Minimal Dowel Ladder DIY

this is the finished dowel ladder diy. read on to find instructions!

It took pinning about 50 living rooms with blanket ladders to decide my own home needed one. My husband took one look at my inspiration photos and said ‘oh I can build that.’ I’ve heard that phrase many times, so I knew we had to take action steps ASAP before the idea was pushed under the rug. The following morning, we made a quick run to Home Depot and came up with a game plan for how to make a minimalist ladder that required few materials.

We landed on the idea of a dowel rod ladder - I love the look of light, unfinished wood so dowel worked perfectly. Not to mention it’s affordable and easy to find at your local hardware store. If you don’t have a saw at home, just kindly ask a sales associate and they’ll be more than happy to help you.

I loved the way dowel ladders look so I found some dowels and we got started on our diy
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Tools needed:

  • Drill

  • Drill bits

  • Saw (you could ask an employee of the hardware/building supply store to cut all the pieces to size for you if you don’t have one)

  • Tape Measure

  • Construction Pencil (if you accidentally make an incorrect mark, don’t worry, you can sand it off later. If you use a marker, mark sparingly, marker doesn’t sand of as easily)

  • Tape (Tape the two handrail pieces together to keep them from rolling while marking the drill spots)

  • Sand paper (I only used 220 grit, no need to go higher.)

Justin helping measure the dowels for the dowel ladder that we did ourselves. it is so easy to diy a ladder!

How To Make It!

  1. Purchase (4 4’) 5/8” dowel rods + (2 8’ pieces) 1-5/16”full round handrail from local hardwood/building supply store.

  2. First, cut hand rail to desired length. I made ours 6’ long.

  3. Next, decide amount and spacing of ladder rungs + measure and mark spots to drill holes for dowels (rungs). I made ours with 4 rungs.

  4. Drill holes same size as dowels (5/8” dowel = 5/8” drill bit). Start with a smaller bit size and work your way up to 5/8”. I started with a small bit and worked larger. ie: 1/8”, 3/8”, 5/8”.

  5. Now, decide length of ladder rungs. I made ours 17” long.

  6. After all the dowels/rungs + handrail pieces are cut, sand with 220 grit sandpaper.

  7. Next, fit the dowels into the drilled out holes. I cut the dowels a little long for ours so it would stick out on both sides 1”.

  8. If you heart desires you can paint, stain, clear coat, etc. to give it the finished look you’re hoping to achieve. We decided to leave ours raw without a finish or polyurethane since we liked that look best.

  9. Lastly, throw some blankets on your work of art and show it off to your friends! They’ll likely think you’re a badass DIY master!

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Ladder decorations are cute and simple. I made thee little hanging flowers to reach down from the top rung of the ladder that we made ourselves!
Blankets are a fun was to bring an aesthetic to a room (or diy ladder) and they are cozy!

Other Tips:

  • If you are having a hard time getting the dowel rod to slide through the drill hole, run the 5/8” bit through the hole a couple extra times. This should slightly widen the hole and make assembly a little easier. You may need to tap the dowel through the hole, just make sure to use something that won’t dent or mark up the wood.)

Have you ever thought of decorating with magazines? it is one of my favorite ways to spread some art around my home
Blankets are a fun was to bring an aesthetic to a room (or diy ladder) and they are cozy!
I hung a magazine on my diy towel ladder to give the some some super 3d wall art
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To decorate the ladder, I first folded a waffle weave blanket over the lowest rung. Then I added this beautiful print magazine by Cageless Birds to the next rung. To top it off, I used two white ‘S’ hooks to hang air plants in geometric vases.

If you lovelies end up making on of these ladders for your own abode, tag me @emilyrhess - I can’t wait to see your take on this simple DIY!