Stepladder: Info Page

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This is the introductory page for a paid video series. Want to watch more of this project? Select the best option below to get started.


Stepladders made from wood have almost disappeared, but not because they don’t work or work well. Paul introduces a design he has developed which includes key features to enhance stability, usability and long term durability. A real lifetime ladder that you will enjoy making as much as having around the house and workshop.


The trestle hinges that Paul uses are 6″/150mm but the length is not critical. There are some 9″/230mm hinges available that should also suit. They tend to open to 30 degrees out the box. In the video Paul shows how to adjust them to open to the 38 degrees needed.

The tools you will need are:

  • Knife
  • Square
  • Combination gauge (or marking gauge and mortise gauge)
  • *Cutting gauge
  • Tape measure
  • Rule
  • Straightedge
  • Sliding bevel
  • Chisel hammer
  • Chisels (at least) 1/4”, 1/2″ (or ⅝”), 3/4″ and 1″)
  • Hand router (see how to make a ‘Poor Man’s Router here)
  • Smoothing plane (No 4)
  • *Scrub Plane
  • Handsaw
  • Tenon saw
  • Dovetail saw
  • Coping saw
  • *No 80 Cabinet Scraper
  • *Card scraper
  • Brace & bit
  • Hand drill or drill driver
  • Rasp
  • File
  • Pair of compasses/dividers
  • Screwdriver
  • Square Awl
  • Small steel hammer

* = optional

Joints List:

  • Mortise and tenon
  • Housing dado
  • Housing dado with tenon


  1. David B on 4 September 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Exciting. And well telegraphed a couple of months back.

  2. Dan Roper on 4 September 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Without question this will be a wonderful addition in my house. Actually, there may be two of these in my future. I built barrister bookcases for a friend that are seven feet tall. I think one of these as a surprise gift that will enable her to reach the top shelf will be fabulous. I have been anxiously awaiting the announcement of the next project. Now my anxiousness has turned to excitement. Thank you for this upcoming exciting project. I love the detail of the joinery I was able to pick up in the closeup shots. Oh boy, this will be a fun project.

    Dan Roper

  3. cobberpete on 4 September 2017 at 3:10 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this project since its first public viewing a few months back (Facebook). I think I will be starting immediately from the first episode. Please, please tell us where to get the special hinges. I have family who live in the UK, and would be able to get them for me and post to Australia.

  4. pkinneb on 4 September 2017 at 6:15 pm

    I look forward to this build!

  5. sambo2212 on 5 September 2017 at 1:41 am

    Can’t wait for this project. Excited about it.

  6. mking1 on 6 September 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Looking forward to making this project.

    I think some more guidance on the requirements for the hinges would be helpful, please. I managed to find some 6″ trestle hinges online but it says they only open to approx 30 degrees, the drawing looks like they need to open to 38 degrees. Am I right to think this could be a problem? Thanks.

    • sanford on 6 September 2017 at 5:45 pm

      Yes, more info on the hinge would help since I suspect many of us never heard of these hinges. A search for them from the U. S. brings up a lot of European and British sites where the hinges are very modestly priced in pounds and euros. Similarly what looks like the same hinge can be bought on ebay and shipped from the U.K. But on Amazon here there is only a rather expensive “Trestle Paste Board Joint Hinge” for a lot more money. It looks to be the same hinge and is from what I think is a U.K. company, Ironmongery World. And none of the ones I have been looking at online say how widely the open! Thanks for any advice here!

    • Philip Adams on 8 September 2017 at 9:43 am

      Hello Mark,
      The ones Paul bought opened to 30 degrees and he adjusted them to open to 38 degrees which is fully covered in the video, so the 30 degree ones will work well.

  7. stevewales on 6 September 2017 at 8:43 pm

    For UK, Ironmongeryonline £5-45/pr — opens to “Approx 30′”

    Shipping outside UK – Ouch!!

  8. Jason on 7 September 2017 at 6:57 pm

    I can’t tell what happens with the top step when the ladder is folded. Does it flop over and rest against the non-step side of the ladder? or is it levering against the hinges?

  9. Harvey Kimsey on 7 September 2017 at 11:50 pm

    Paul says that this project would be fine done in pine. Would you alter the plans and make the treads thicker? Pine seems like such a soft wood for such a structure.

    • Philip Adams on 8 September 2017 at 9:47 am

      Hello Harvey,
      This depends very much on the type of pine. However, most pines would work just fine. Paul says that historically, pine has been the preferred wood for creating vernacular stepladders. Also, spruce is the strongest wood for weight to strength ratio of all woods.
      Best, Phil

  10. uumikew on 8 September 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Is there a typo in the cut list? The Mortise pieces are listed at 9.5 inches in the list and 8.5 inches in the drawing? My guess is the drawing is right and too long is easier to fix than too short but just thought I would ask. Thanks, –mike–

    • Philip Adams on 8 September 2017 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Mike,
      They are left long to facilitate fitting and taking apart, then sawn off once glued up.
      Best, Phil

  11. piper on 20 September 2017 at 10:37 am
  12. dovetails on 12 October 2017 at 3:19 am

    I can’t build this project if it is going to cost me $84 for a pair of hinges shipped from the UK…

    • Alan on 12 October 2017 at 6:30 am

      Hi Nick, I tried testing a few US States for postal destinations, and they should be approx. USD $20 per pair, USD $19 Postage, USD $39 Total.

  13. Greywolf on 16 October 2017 at 3:43 pm

    I am sure this will be covered in a later episode, but I am curious as to how the front lip will be joined to the top lattice. Not looking for a detailed explanation, just trying to make sure I have a basic grasp of the various steps to completion of the project. Thanks.

    • Philip Adams on 26 October 2017 at 10:30 am

      Sorry, missed this one. It is glued long grain to long grain. Thanks, Phil

  14. Karey on 9 December 2017 at 3:41 am

    The U.K. will not ship the trestle hinge to the us. A solution would be to let us buy through woodworking mastclass. We send you the money then you send us the hinges. I have all pieces cut out. The hinges are going to be my hold up. Or is there another type of hinge that can be used instead of the trestle hinge. It’s a little frustrating to build a project and then can’t get the hardware. What other options might there be?

  15. Clifford on 9 December 2017 at 3:49 am

    I purchased a pair of 200mm trestle hinges from EBay.UK which shipped them to me in the USA. And yes the shipping was nearly the cost of the hinges!

  16. Bruce Berckmans on 18 January 2018 at 11:03 pm

    Trestle Joint/Hinge Information.
    Just received my: Cast In Style N1045 Kirkpatrick 1776 Trestle Joint size medium 8″ / 203mm (How nice of Mr. Kirkpatrick to commemorate the date of our declaration!!) cost per pair 18.98 GPB and almost as much for shipping to the States.
    Very well made and the pin is supported by an additional washer that will require a bit more clearance to lay flat but not an issue.
    Should be noted that the opening is approximately 45 degrees so unless you do a bit of smithing you will not have parallel arms, not an issue for me.



  17. mike forbes on 28 July 2019 at 12:30 am

    Looking forward to this, I have some 60 some year old 3/4 pine, may use that, have to laminate for the back leg but it also means free wood 🙂

  18. John Hoogerheide on 3 December 2021 at 11:32 pm

    The cut list specifies 7/8″ pieces. Would 3/4″ or 13/16″ be suitable, or would those thicknesses compromise the capacity or safety of the finished piece?

    • Katrina Sellers on 9 December 2021 at 8:56 am

      Sorry but we can’t give an answer to this because there are too many factors to take into consideration. You would need to think about wood type, intended use of the step ladder and who would be using it and other factors.

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