Use Old Spindles to Make a Farmhouse Ladder
Lately, I’m obsessed with spindles. I look for them everywhere and a few spindly chairs have met their demise in my pursuit of said spindles. I’ve seen them incorporated into so many crafts and they definitely have that farmhouse feel I want in my home. I had been wanting a small farmhouse ladder for myself, and I thought I’d make a few for resale too. I have a large one in my living room and it’s one of my favorite décor pieces I’ve made. I finally acquired the right pieces to make a few. So this week I got busy making my spindle farmhouse ladders.
You certainly don’t need a lot of materials to make these decorative ladders. Just a few spindles and about four feet of trim wood.
I got my spindles at my favorite thrift store, for $1, in the form of an old magazine rack. I used a rubber mallet to disassemble it. I promise I don’t make a habit of destroying good furniture, but y’all – spindles! The remaining pieces of the magazine rack will be put to good use as soon as I figure out what that is. I picked my trim pieces up for free when they were listed as a curb alert on Facebook Marketplace. I used wood glue to hold my ladder together and 2x matte white spray paint by Rustoleum.
How to Plan your Project
I decided that an odd number of rungs looks best and I settled on three because I didn’t want my ladder to be very tall as I’m going to use it for hand towels in our master bath. I laid out what I had in mind before I cut my trim pieces and spaced my rungs evenly. Twenty-two inches was the right height and the spindles allowed my ladder to be about 7 inches wide. Now I’m ready to cut my pieces.
Cutting Your Pieces
The width of my ladder was determined by the length of spindles I chose so I don’t need to do anything to them. I do need to cut my side pieces and I use my compound miter saw to do that. If you use power tools, wear your safety glasses. If you don’t have this equipment you can buy a cheap miter box kit off Amazon or at your local hardware store. They’re about $10 and you can turn out some nice projects with this simple tool. I cut two trim pieces 22” long and I was ready to go on to the next step.
Measure and Drill
Now to decide the placement of the ladder rungs. I want to place the first rung about four inches from the top of my ladder and the third rung the same distance from the bottom. Then the middle rung will be centered between the two. I mark my side pieces everywhere I need to drill a hole. I use the end of my spindle to decide what size drill bit I need to use. I drew a circle the size of the hole I wanted to drill where I had previously marked. I did this because I wanted to make sure my holes ended up being even and aligned on both sides of my ladder. I also didn’t drill all the way through my side pieces – I want my spindles to nestle tightly in these holes about ¼” deep. Now I’m ready to assemble my ladder.
Wood glue is great for this project. My spindles are too thin for me to feel comfortable using my brad nailer. I put glue in each of the three holes of my first side piece then I insert my first spindle. My spindles have dowel ends that fit nicely in the holes I drilled. To get a tighter hold I tap it in a little with my rubber mallet. I repeat this process with the second and third rungs. After the glue has dried I do the exact same thing to attach my second side piece. When the glue is dry I can paint and finish my ladder.
Painting and Finishing Your Piece
I knew I wanted to distress my spindles while keeping the side pieces white and intact. I took my ladder outside and spray-painted the whole thing white. In order to distress the spindles, I need to cover their original dark color with a lighter color. It only takes one coat and I wait for the paint to dry. To distress my spindles I use light grit sandpaper and sand the high points and a few random places on both sides of all three rungs. I give everything a coat of clear wax to seal the paint and it gives the finish a luster that I like.
Styling Ideas and Reselling Tips
These sweet little ladders can be used as a hand towel rack in your bathroom or as a rack to hold dish towels in your kitchen. They also work well leaning against a fireplace. You could even use hooks to hang a small picture frame from each rung. I’ve also seen them hung on a wall horizontally.
Last year I saw these ladders in droves, and in every size, at every craft show we did. They sold like hotcakes and I’m sure they will again this year. To encourage sales of décor items at my shows I style them the way I would in my home. I hang a dishtowel from the top rung and create a vignette with lamb’s ear greenery, and a few vintage wooden spoons with a rolling pin in a pitcher. Sometimes people like what they see but aren’t quite sure how to use it in their décor. Give them a visual and more times than not they’ll want to buy the entire grouping.
Well, if you need me, I’ll be out hunting spindles with my rubber mallet. Happy crafting!