Building a ladder

A friend of mine talked me into building a ladder. Saying yes was the easy part.
He wants a loft ladder, 8.5 ft tall (vertical which I don't like but he insistented on). Vertical means no shear on the sides so I figure 1.25 x 5 oak will do. I think 1 x 3.5 oak for the rungs.
What I can't decide is how to tie the rungs to the sides. I've considered thru tenons, wedged thru tenons, tenons with dowels on either side and a few other things. I'm mainly worried that the rungs will work loose. We both would prefer no mechanical fasteners.
Suggestions?
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On Dec 17, 10:00 pm, snipped-for-privacy@pdq.net wrote:

tusk tenons sliding dovetails
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the

SFWIW, I have built several ladders using construction grade 2x4s of various lengths.
The rungs are 2x4x13-1/2
Dadoes are cut 1/4" deep, on 12" centers in the side rails.
I used a router with a home made jig to guarantee repetitive spacing. Cut the dadoes on a 10 degree angle which means a left hand and a right hand jig.
Trin the ends @ 10 degree angles.
Assemble with 3" deck screws, 2 per step on each side.
I wasn't interested in furniture, but a ladder I could use to lay fiberglass.
BTW, the ladder is 16" wide when assembled.
Length as required.
Lew
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On Dec 17, 10:00 pm, snipped-for-privacy@pdq.net wrote:

Mechanical fasteners are easier to fix. Worry about breaking your neck, not what the ladder looks like.
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On Dec 17, 10:00 pm, snipped-for-privacy@pdq.net wrote:

I did a similar animal some years back, and I used wedged through- tenons. Simple enough to do, they look great and are rock solid. For the sides I used 5/4 oak that was, IIRC, about 2 1/2" or 3" deep.
From your description it's not clear if you're intending to have the rungs skinny side up or have a broader base to step on. Be aware that broader steps on a steeper ladder are not necessarily more comfortable...unless you're bare footed or plan on hanging out and admiring the view while you're halfway up.
R
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<elided>

broader steps. I based the step width on ladders I had.
Are you suggesting 2"/2.5 inch or so? My experiments (stepping on things) gave about 3 1/2 inches as a little larger than the area my shoe sole contacted.
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I built a loft ladder for my little barn this fall. 5/4 rough white pine (very soft). Both the treads an stringer were just over 4" in width.
The steps were attached with twin through-tennons, wedged and housed in a shallow dado. The ladder is about 18" wide, including the stringers and about 7' high. It's overbuilt and rock solid. Based on my experience with pine, 1.25 x 5 with oak is way more than enough.
Whatever joinery method you use, I think wou want to carry the weight of the tread (person) in a shallow dado. A simpler alternative would be consealing screws beneath a plug, Just insert a wide dowel in the underside of the tread to offer some side grain for the screw to bite into.
-Steve

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snipped-for-privacy@pdq.net wrote:

When I had need of one I used PT southern pine 2x4s for sides. Rungs were the same ripped to1.5 x1.5 then routed round with a 3/4" round over bit except for 1 1/2" at each end. The rails had notches cut to fit the rung ends which were then glued and screwed into the rails. Plenty stout. You could just glue in the rungs or pin with a dowel too.
Personally, I think round rungs are better but If you want the rungs flat and wide I'd use sliding dovetails...easy to make and very strong.
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dadiOH
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I woul duse fox tennons (wedges through tennons) or a sliding dovetail. Both of these provide a joint taht can't work loose - important in a ladder.
-JD

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On Dec 17, 10:00 pm, snipped-for-privacy@pdq.net wrote:

Rout a dado for each step, Use through tenons (extension of each step) with wedges through them The tenons extending through the rails). But, of course, that is rather "mechanical, isn't it!?)
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When I first built our garage, I built a "ships ladder" using pressure treated 2x8's. I cut dado's in the side rails for each step, and used three 3" deck screws on each end of the step. It was very sturdy and lasted over four years till I took it out and built a proper stairway.
If you want to avoid the screws, I suppose you could cut dovetails instead of dado's and slide the ladder treads into place. Maybe lock them into place with a dowel or something.
Or, just use screws and countersink them so you can cover them with wood plugs.
Anthony
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HerHusband wrote:

My Dad build a ladder for his dock out of PT 2x4, he used one on each side then nailed short ones to that to hold the rungs, with each running the full distance between the rungs. The part of it that's below low tide has a lot of barnacles on it but it's still intact 30 years later. I think he learned to do it that way in the Seabees. Wasn't elegant but it was strong.
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I've read the above three times and I still can't picture what was built. Care to clarify it a bit?
R
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Nevermind. I understand what you meant and I should have understood it in the first place.
Note to self: Don't post after skipping breakfast. The blood sugar is way too low and you'll post stupid things. Print this out for future reference.
R
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