Building a Ladder Shelf

Ladder Shelf-11I had recently branched out to selling some of my products at a little shop in town.  I rented out a small square footage to display my soaps at the Blackwater Trail Antiques shop here in Milton.  Then, all I needed was a display case.  Since I’m just testing the waters at this point, I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in a piece of furniture.  It also needed to have a small footprint to fit into a small space.  So I decided to build a ladder shelf.  It’s a piece of furniture that can hold a lot without looking bulky or getting in the way.

I’d love to get all Ana White on you and show you plans that I designed myself, but that’s not going to happen.  In fact, she has a ladder shelf plan but it was wider than I needed.

I found my favorite set of plans at  Since you can check them out at there, I won’t be spelling out the cut list and all the details.  However, I would like to show you how my project turned out!

Like all projects, it took a little longer than I’d anticipated to finish.  The building went pretty quickly but I decided to stain and polyurethane instead of painting so that added several days.

Ladder Shelf-4

I have a work shed but I tend to do a lot of my work outside in the yard.  Especially when the weather is so nice.  The boys were helping me a bit.  Do you see their “equipment”?

Ladder Shelf-6

Ladder Shelf-2

The shelves came together quite nicely.  The shelf bottom was glued and nailed to the back and then the sides were glued and nailed on.Ladder Shelf-3

See the difference in shelf depths?  Each one is 2″ deeper than the next, all the way to the bottom.

Ladder Shelf-7

The hard part for me was figuring out how to cut a 10˚ angle into the side uprights and cleats.Ladder Shelf-8

After much thinking, and a little trial and error, I realized that along with leaning my table saw blade 10˚ – I also needed to cut all my pieces standing up on their short sides.  I didn’t feel entirely comfortable cutting this way but the work went quickly and smoothly.Ladder Shelf-12

Here’s a picture of the shelf after I put it all together.Ladder Shelf-9

This is the first coat of stain going on.  Pine isn’t a great wood to stain.  It doesn’t take it evenly and can look a little blotchy.  Still, I just can’t bring myself to paint a brand new piece of furniture.  The first coat of stain is always pretty frightening and I begin to think I’ve ruined it.  Do you ever get that 1st coat panic?  The best thing to do is to power through and remember that after another coat of stain and several coats of poly, it will look much better.  Or . . . you can always paint it if it doesn’t.

Ladder Shelf-15

Here’s mine at the shop.  Ta da!  I still need to dress it up quite a bit and add a few more items but I’m pleased with how the shelf turned out.  I’ll make sure and add some new pictures once I get this set up to my liking.

Ladder Shelf-17

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