How To DIY A Rustic Decorative Ladder By Repurposing Old Spindles

Decorative wooden spindles can be one of the most beautiful things about old furniture. Whatever the design era, spindlework's twists and turns immediately confer a sense of handcraftedness and age. Wood spindles can be seen on any number of furniture pieces, including chairs, tables, and bedframes, or found in older homes or architectural salvage shops harvested from stairwell railings and porches. If you find yourself with a stash of old wooden spindles you aren't quite sure how to use, consider making them into a stylish, vintage-inspired ladder. Not only will it add a touch of rustic decor to any room as a purely decorative piece, but it can also be used for hanging or leaning storage for things like throw blankets, reading material, accessories, and more. You can also use the ladder on a patio or in the garden as a whimsical structure for climbing plants.

All you need to create your ladder are several wooden spindles and two pieces of scrap lumber, equal in length. The more spindles you have, the longer your ladder. You will also need access to a table or jig saw, wood glue, a nail gun, as well as materials for customizing your ladder with paint or wood stain. This cute DIY ladder idea is the perfect alternative to much more expensive, similar ladders available from home decor retailers or Amazon.

Creating a spindled ladder

Begin by trimming your wooden spindles down to an equal length and flattening their ends so that they rest flush against the vertical supports. Mark out the placement of your spindles along the length of your lumber pieces with a pencil (one foot is standard for most ladders, but you can customize it as desired.) Align your spindles with the marks then use a nail gun to drive a nail through the side of the ladder and into the end of the spindle. Repeat on the other side. For thin spindles that don't allow room for nails, drill a hole in the wood to accommodate them and secure them with wood glue for a firm fit. You can also cut the bottom and top of your side supports at an angle for leaning the ladder against a wall. 

Finish and customize your ladder in a variety of ways, including paint, or as TikTok user @kelseydaviskurrin did, with a combination of paint and crackle finish that gives a rustic cottage vibe to the finished piece. For a well-worn vintage look, apply two colors, then sand the edges a bit so the original coat shows through. For a sleeker, more modern farmhouse variation, use a solid matte black all over. If you plan to use the ladder outside in the elements, you may also want to add a clear finishing coat to keep it looking good for years to come.