Wednesday, March 10, 2010

DIY: Decorative Bamboo Ladder

Me and my mom were looking through the eco friendly Viva Terra catalog the other day (together ova' the phone) when she fell in love with their towel ladder featured as a super zen bathroom accessory. I remembered a few years back when they had one made of bamboo all decked out with organic towels hanging from it, and told her I would try and make one that was free, simple and with stuff I had around the house.

Here are the supplies you need:
  • bamboo
  • hand saw (or electric)
  • cutting shears (optional cause you can use your saw)
  • hammer (or something similar to pound with)
  • string (like hemp, jute or organic cotton)
FIRST: I cut two large pieces of bamboo approx. 5 feet high for the side pieces (posts), using a hand saw. The two sides must be the exact same size.

SECOND: I cut 5 smaller pieces of bamboo with my cutting shears (super easy!)
The 5 rungs of the ladder to hang your towels on can be a wide/ long as you like - depending on the width you'd like your ladder to be. Make sure these are all the same length though, more or less...
THIRD: I took the rungs and placed them on the ladder how i would like them to sit, then with a pencil marked lines on the right and left side of each end piece - meaning each rung had four marks, two for each side.
FOURTH: I used the hand saw to cut in grooves, for this neat little magic trick you can do with bamboo... you saw two parallel lines deep enough to hit the hollow part and.........
Then you take a hammer (or some kind of pounding tool) and bang the center between the two parallel lines - which causes a perfect square to open up. Usually it takes a hit or two before it breaks, and split in the middle and the very edges where your saw line ended.
Like this pic below... it just pops open, into a perfect square (or rectangle) - and you pull off the broken pieces with your fingers.
FIFTH: After cutting the grooves on the right and left side of the ladder for all 5 rungs, you can then place the rungs into the grooves.
SIXTH: With the rungs in place, it's time to take some eco friendly string (hemp, jute?) and tie them to the posts of the ladder. I used organic cotton fabric which I cut in strips because it was what I had around.
The type of string you use will change the look of the ladder - for a more island, zen look I think brown hemp rope would work best. But for me, I like the funky bold white ties cause it gives it a handmade primitive look. :)
I bet you could also paint your ladder with Milk Paint too, if you wanted it a certain color to match your decor!

Check out my end result - I totally think it's a big success!!!! And was FREE.


Anonymous said...


Kittie Howard said...

One day I'd like one of these, but smaller, on an enclosed sunporch with mags/newspapers hanging. Happy you're keeping busy. Hmmm, is the laddar kinda symbolic of the Laddar to Heaven? Offered up a prayer for Mimi. Read your comment about angels with father, long passed, woke me up once talking to real I expected him to be in the room. I think this stuff is for real. (My mom used to live in Harahan.)

Lou Cheese said...

Why not turn the punched out squares on the main poles inward so they face each other and stick the smaller step-type poles inside the squares? They'll probably still need to be tied down, but they should hold more weight that way (sorry, it's an engineer thing).

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Anonymous- Thanks, i think it's cool too.

Kittie- I like the idea of hanging other things on it - it would be neat to make a tiny on for the kitchen to hang hand towels/dish towels on.
PS- the stuff is as real as anything else. :)

Lou Cheese- When i first planned it, i was thinking if putting the rungs into the holes, but this method of pounding out the opening is not an exact science, so i didn't want to end up with openings too loose for the rung and a more unstable ladder.
I am surprised still how sturdy the way i did do it came out, it's pretty tight.
Of course using some type of glue would increase the strength, but i try to do everything chemical free. Most structures like this sold in magazines probably use alot of wood glue.