Rolling Folding Shop Loft Ladder

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 -

*This post is sponsored by DAP Products and The Home Depot #thdprospective, and contains affiliate links. 

Where have we been?! Well, have you been following along with our custom house and dream shop build? We recently finished building an ultra-modern house, as well as a 1,200 sqft detached workshop on a budget and have been up to our eyeballs with projects.  If you want to see what we've covered so far, make sure you head over to YouTube where I've set-up a whole playlist, covering every step of the process #BuildingModernOnABudget

Our goal is to try to keep the 3-car garage attached to the house as junk-free as possible. In order to do that, my husband Bryce built us a 3' x 4' storage mezzanine/ loft in the shop. Extension ladders are sketchy as hell, so I decided to build us a set of mobile stairs to access the storage space. I came up with a design that will allow the DIY wood staircase to both roll (like a library ladder) and fold up towards the ceiling (like a drawbridge). 

Watch the video below to catch the full building process and once you're done, keep scrolling to learn about the 4 hacks we implemented to help make this build a little bit better. 

Hack #1

The first hack we came up with was the material we used for the sliding hardware. You can definitely find library ladder kits online, but they are quite expensive and to be honest, a lot of them are decorative. Very few are beefy enough to support the weight demands of shop stairs. 

For the rail, we decided to use 1/2" diameter black gas pipe. To span the entire 30' wide loft, we used three, 10' lengths. We did need to trim off a few inches, which was easily accomplished using our new Ryobi HP Brushless Angle Grinder

I've used plenty of angle grinders in the past, but have found the battery powered ones are typically SUPER heavy and unwieldy. The new Ryobi HP line of tools come with powerful brushless motors, but in a lighter, compact package. Even with my tiny hands, it's easy to control the HP angle grinder.

The Ryobi HP 18V Cordless Angle Grinder also came in handy with the second part of the sliding hardware. For the connections on the top of the ladder, we used j-shaped rope hooks. 

They were an inexpensive, heavy duty but simple option to hang the wood ladder from the rail. 

Once the ladder was installed, we noticed the hooks hung down and interfered with the handrail brackets used to hold the rail up on the face of the loft. Once again, our Ryobi HP Angle Grinder came in handy, and we were able to nip the extra length off the end of the hooks. After that, the ladder could slide like butter. 

Hack #2

Building the wood stair structure gave me a chance to use my classic "dual glue trick". 

I almost always use the "dual glue trick" when I'm assembling my wooden projects. I apply a thin layer of Weldwood Original Wood glue to the joint, but then follow up with a couple drops of quick setting RapidFuse All Purpose Adhesive. The RapidFuse grabs the wood quickly and dries within seconds, acting almost like a clamp while the longer lasting Weldwood Wood Glue fully cures. 

Try it. I promise you'll never go back. The "dual glue trick" is especially handy when you're working quickly and don't want to take the time for glue to dry before moving on to the next step. 

Hack #3

I'm a pretty frugal person. I guess it's a natural result of being raised poor. I typically try to build each of my projects as inexpensively as possible, even if it means spending more time and energy. For example, the original idea was to be able to hoist the entire rolling/folding staircase by hand - simply by yanking as hard as I could on the nylon ropes. 

As I've gotten older, I've realized that old saying "time is money" is sometimes true. For example, in certain circumstances, you can actually SAVE money by investing in your workflow, like hiring a specialist or buying a specific tool/supply. Once the staircase was built and hooked up to the DIY pulley system we rigged up, we came around to the idea of buying a winch. BEST. DECISION. EVER. 

The worm-drive trailer winch we picked up cost us $29 on sale, but the amount of frustration it will save use every time we use the lift system is priceless. 

Another great decision was to utilize our new Ryobi HP Multi-tool. If you haven't used a multi-tool before, I highly recommend picking one up. A multi-tool can cut, grind, or sand, all with a quick change of an attachment. 

The Ryobi HP 18V multi-tool is cordless, running on the same Ryobi battery platform that powers over 175 different tools. Like the rest of the tools in the new HP line, it come with a long-lasting brushless motor, but is significantly lighter weight than most competitive models. 

It's not just power tools in the new Ryobi HP line that pack more power in a smaller package. The batteries have been completely redesigned too! For example, I have a new Ryobi HP 18V, 4ah battery that is almost the exactly same size and weight as my old 3ah batteries, but provides 25% more worktime. 

Hack #4

Whenever you have a metal-on-metal fastener connection, don't forget the threadlocker! 

I've used a few different thread-locking products before, but I've never been as impressed as I am with the new Tank Bond threadlocker by DAP. It comes in multiple formulas for several different applications, some permanent and some temporary. 

My favorite feature of both Tank Bond Threadlocker - permanent and Tank Bond Threadlocker - removeable is the thicker, gel consistently. It makes applying the product much more precise with significantly less mess. 

I've heard a few people theorize that the folding and rolling features of our new loft stairs are just gimmicks. 

We've had the finished staircase installed in the shop for about two weeks now, and speaking honestly, the mobile design has been invaluable! 

It's true that most of the time the stairs will be drawn up and stored out of the way, but having it fold and lift upwards gives us a large amount of open workspace down on the ground. 

What do you think? Ready to build your own? Each loft and staircase come with their own unique dimensions, but let me know in the comment section if this is a project you'd like to see free building plans for. 

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