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Rustic Blanket Ladder from Upcycled Trees

  • November 21, 2017


Upcycle tree trunks and limbs to build this rustic blanket ladder.  While this is a highly irregular project, the steps can be adapted to work with various sizes of wood. The tips and tricks given below will help you be successful building your own simplified version of a tree trunk and limb blanket ladder.

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  1. Project Steps

    1. Step: 1

      Use a vice clamp or other clamps to secure the branches before beginning any work.

    2. Step: 2

      Trim your limbs to remove any extra small branches. A reciprocating saw with a pruning blade does a fine job of the larger limbs.

    3. Step: 3

      For smaller twig type branches, a Ryobi Job Plus with the cutting blade gives finer control.

    4. Step: 4

      Use a paint scraper or putty knife remove bark.

    5. Step: 5

      Sand branches smooth with an orbital sander. I chose to leave parts of the brown cambium layer in some places for a more rustic look. You can also sand this brown layer off entirely.

    6. Step: 6

      Once the branches were smooth, I trimmed the verticle uprights for this ladder to 6'5" tall.

    7. Step: 7

      Then I rotated the sliding miter saw to a 10 degree cut and cut just the bottoms. This allows for ladder to lean appropriately to the wall.  Be sure to mark the shorter side as the back of the ladder for future reference.

    8. Step: 8

      The horizontal rungs were cut to around 22".

    9. Step: 9

      Set out the ladder pieces and check for alignment.  Because of the curvature of the trunks adjustments may need to be made.  I decided to make the rungs consecutively smaller at the top by about 1/2 an inch. Mark the position of each branch rung top and bottom onto the vertical uprights.

    10. Step: 10

      Once the ladder rungs are cut to the appropriate size, reclamp to workbench and drill a hole for the 1/2 dowel using a Forstner bit. Repeat this process for each side and each rung.

    11. Step: 11

      Cut dowels to appropriate lengths. I used 1 1/2 inch pieces.

    12. Step: 12

      Clamp trunk securely to a drill press and drill one 1/2 inch hole for the first rung at the top of the ladder. Remove from press and add dowel. Repeat this for the other leg of the ladder.

    13. Step: 13

      Tie a string to the top dowel and let it hang down the trunk.  Mark the position of the string to find the center down the trunk for the remaining dowel holes.

    14. Step: 14

      Reset trunk onto drill press, clamp and drill remaining holes for the rungs.

    15. Step: 15

      Use wood glue to adhere dowels into the branches and assemble.

    16. Step: 16

      Clamp ladder together and allow glue to dry.

    17. Step: 17

      If the sides of the ladder will not stay tight due to the irregular nature of the wood, drill pilot holes at an angle in the back side of the ladder and secure with wood screws.

    18. Step: 18

      Finish as desired and once dry, display your blankets and enjoy your natural work of art!

Comments (1)


  • Wow! I just love this project! Great Job! Can you build one for me? ; )
    By maryhale4, on February 3, 2018

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Rustic Blanket Ladder from Upcycled Trees

by Deeply Southern Home
Nov 21, 2017

Upcycle tree trunks and limbs to build this rustic blanket ladder.  While this is a highly irregular project, the steps can be adapted to work with various sizes of wood. The tips and tricks given below will help you be successful building your own simplified version of a tree trunk and limb blanket ladder.

Project Steps

  1. Step: 1

    Use a vice clamp or other clamps to secure the branches before beginning any work.

  2. Step: 2

    Trim your limbs to remove any extra small branches. A reciprocating saw with a pruning blade does a fine job of the larger limbs.

  3. Step: 3

    For smaller twig type branches, a Ryobi Job Plus with the cutting blade gives finer control.

  4. Step: 4

    Use a paint scraper or putty knife remove bark.

  5. Step: 5

    Sand branches smooth with an orbital sander. I chose to leave parts of the brown cambium layer in some places for a more rustic look. You can also sand this brown layer off entirely.

  6. Step: 6

    Once the branches were smooth, I trimmed the verticle uprights for this ladder to 6'5" tall.

  7. Step: 7

    Then I rotated the sliding miter saw to a 10 degree cut and cut just the bottoms. This allows for ladder to lean appropriately to the wall.  Be sure to mark the shorter side as the back of the ladder for future reference.

  8. Step: 8

    The horizontal rungs were cut to around 22".

  9. Step: 9

    Set out the ladder pieces and check for alignment.  Because of the curvature of the trunks adjustments may need to be made.  I decided to make the rungs consecutively smaller at the top by about 1/2 an inch. Mark the position of each branch rung top and bottom onto the vertical uprights.

  10. Step: 10

    Once the ladder rungs are cut to the appropriate size, reclamp to workbench and drill a hole for the 1/2 dowel using a Forstner bit. Repeat this process for each side and each rung.

  11. Step: 11

    Cut dowels to appropriate lengths. I used 1 1/2 inch pieces.

  12. Step: 12

    Clamp trunk securely to a drill press and drill one 1/2 inch hole for the first rung at the top of the ladder. Remove from press and add dowel. Repeat this for the other leg of the ladder.

  13. Step: 13

    Tie a string to the top dowel and let it hang down the trunk.  Mark the position of the string to find the center down the trunk for the remaining dowel holes.

  14. Step: 14

    Reset trunk onto drill press, clamp and drill remaining holes for the rungs.

  15. Step: 15

    Use wood glue to adhere dowels into the branches and assemble.

  16. Step: 16

    Clamp ladder together and allow glue to dry.

  17. Step: 17

    If the sides of the ladder will not stay tight due to the irregular nature of the wood, drill pilot holes at an angle in the back side of the ladder and secure with wood screws.

  18. Step: 18

    Finish as desired and once dry, display your blankets and enjoy your natural work of art!