Creating Ladder...suggestions?

I'm finding out rather quickly the learning curve for a new woodworker is relatively steep (read: last project I learned way more than I wanted to via mistakes and improvisation). Anyway, I'm creating a fixed ladder for my closed stairwell and was wondering if anyone has created a ladder in the past and has some wisdom to impart upon me.
I'm using 3" (actual) Oak for the sides and 3 1/2" for the steps. I believe I'm going to use 1/4" dados for the steps, copying a design from a ladder I saw at Borders. The ladder will be 12' when it's finished.
In my research I've noticed most library ladders have a very long and narrow bolt (probably 8 gauge) that stretches from one side of the ladder to the other. Is this elongated bolt necessary? Does anyone know where I can find these bolts...web searches have turned up nothing at this point.
Thanks in advance, jeb
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On Wed 13 Aug 2003 09:50:18p, apt snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Jeb Sawyer) wrote in

For what you're doing - correct me if I'm wrong: you're putting it under each rung to both support the tread and keep the sides tight - I think threaded rod would do just fine. Pretty cheap at your local hardware store, or the BigBox if you're into that sort of thing.
As to whether it's necessary, my opinion is if the treads are joined properly to the sides and if very large people aren't going to be climbing it all day every day, no it's not. If it's getting a lot of use and you're worried about your joinery, it couldn't hurt anything except maybe the aesthetics. I guess if I was a head librarian I'd want overkill just to be on the safe side.
Dan
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"Jeb Sawyer" writes:

Believe it or not, I have built several construction ladders from standard 2x4 construction lumber for use in building my boat.
The following works for me and is offered for your favorable consideration.
1) Build steps on 12" intervals.
2) Incline the steps 10 degrees to the side rails.
3) Cut dadoes 1/4" deep into side rails for the steps.
And now the real trick.
Build a right hand and a left hand fixture for your router to cut the dadoes.
This will insure that the step spacing remains constant which is very important.
For further info on ladders, I refer you to "Skenes Elements of Yacht Design" ( long out of print) but available at the library and Fred Bingham's "Practical Yacht Joinery".
They both discuss ladders for sail boats in detail which is what I used as a model for my ladders.
HTH
--
Lew

S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland)
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I wrote:

"Jeb Sawyer"asks:

Make a frame that slips over the rail at a 10 degrees angle that allows the router base plate to contact each edge + thickness of step.
This will allow you to use a router to cut the dado.
Add an extension and add a pad the slips into the last cut dado, to insure an even spacing.
Get some scrap wood, say 1/2" plywood, and play with it. You'll get the idea.
HTH
--
Lew

S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland)
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Can you tell me more about what this fixture would look like. It's a great idea, I just don't have a sense of how to make something like this. Thanks, jeb
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The rod is to keep the sides from separating, which you know. If yours is a "fixed" installation, there will be little need for the rods. Now if you have splayed legs on the ground, or lean a lot, you might want to try them - or sliding dovetails.
If you've just gotta have 'em, thread your own mild steel rod.
Anyway, I'm creating a

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