In the above quick video Bill Anderson and I show how Roy Underhill’s famous “folding ladder” works. Roy’s design is based on a folding ladder used by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. You can learn more about Thomas Jefferson’s folding ladder here.
Here’s the best price for the season 8 DVD of “The Woodwright’s Shop” where Roy shows how to build this ladder: here or here. You can also download the single episode here for around $5.
What amazing woodworking inventions have you discovered?
In Roy’s book “The Woodwright’s Eclectic Workshop” 1991 Chapel Hill Press, page 87 he gives exact dimentions of the ladder, rungs, grooves and all and some of its history. The only thing I could see with the ladder is its width. I’m afraid it would be to narrow for my big feet. If you made the rungs wider then they would probably be spaced too far apart to step up on the next rung. I know after seeing that episode… Read more »
Thanks Jason. I’ve borrowed that book before, but I must have just thumbed through. Yea, I’ve tried to climb Roy’s ladder a few times (while filming) and had a hard time fitting both feet. I’m going to try and make a wider one. Yup, I love Jefferson’s inventions too. I live just a few miles from Monticello, so I get to see them a lot!
Wow! I’m afraid I’d be at Montecello most weekends. One of these days I’ll see Mt. Vernon, John Adams’ Peacefield, Montecello, and Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis Md. Hammond-Harwood was built by a nephew of my 4× great grand father. Thomas Jefferson visited Hammond -Harwood and found Matthew Buckland’s design very pleasing. Matthew Buckland designed Gunston Hall, George Mason’s home who had a Jefferson folding ladder in his library as well.
Thanks for posting this. Very clever indeed. That design is beyond what I can do with the limited tools I have. But the picture of the one by Jefferson or his woodworker is within reach. Here: http://www.monticello.org/site/house-and-gardens/folding-ladder The design is somewhat different, it appears simpler to me at least. In plan view, the sides of the ladder are “L” shaped. And the rungs of the ladder just run between the two “L’s” which are turned opposite directions. The rungs appear… Read more »
Hi Matthew, I don’t have Roy’s ladder with me, but I’m pretty sure there is a nail through the dowel to assist in pivoting. I’ll look closer next time I’m at his school. Congrats on following your passion! I loved the paintings of Greece and France.
p.s. Tried to send you a message through your contact form, but it wouldn’t go through, it seemed to just keep thinking…. with a few arrows going in circles indicating it was processing, but never sent the message. No big deal, just thought you’d want to know. Maybe its just my computer?
Matthew, thanks for letting me know. Which internet browser were you using? That may be the problem. Is the problem persisting? If you’re having this problem, then others may have it too, so I’d love to get it resolved.