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Free Wood Swimming Ladder Plans

This works great for a lake dock or a swimming pool in your own backyard!  If you like it, be sure to come back for more. Thanks to our customer Jay N. for creating this plan and submitting to us!


Free Wood Swimming Ladder Plans
Premium Wood Swimming Ladder Plans
This will work on the dock at the lake, or in your own swimming pool

This particular wood plan shows you how to building a wood swimming ladder that you can take anywhere, from your pool to the lake!  Please enjoy this nice set of free wood plans! 
 Please make sure you check out our custom shed plans in our shed plans package before you leave our site and see if they meet your needs as well.  Our shed plans package has thousands of wood plans just like this, not just shed plans!

We also have a great set of Jungle Gym plans for your backyard.  Plenty of plans to keep you and your kids occupied.  They are all available for immediate download!

free wood swimming ladder wood plans free wood swimming ladder wood plans

Rise to the Occasion!

Jumping in the lake is easy enough, but heaving yourself back out again can be a strenuous and ungainly maneuver. Here’s a swim ladder for water lovers that guarantees a swift and graceful exit.

Last year we constructed a new floating cedar dock for the cottage; hardly a sensational event, but significant nonetheless as the old one had been built by my late father-in-law, Morley Abbott, some 20 years ago. Complete with an old-fashioned ramp, it is a simple and functional dock, as such structures go. Unfortunately, we gave very little consideration to the swim ladder, that most essential of accessories (all of us are well past the age when we could lunge gracefully up onto the dock). On a run into Parry Sound one day, I purchased one made of plastic and metal, which we installed that afternoon. It is certainly practical, but frankly, it just doesn’t fit; unlike the dock, the ladder is not pleasing to look at.

The fact is, I had not even considered a wooden ladder until I saw some pictures of a swim ladder It was built out of
Douglas fir salvaged from a boat dock. Besides looking good, the ladder is inclined, a terrific feature for the more mature cottager. No more flopping around on the edge of the dock as you try to pull yourself out of the lake; with this ladder, you can ascend from the deeps with dignity and grace.

2 pieces 2" x 8" x 7' cedar *
1 piece 2" x 4" x 7' cedar *
1 piece 2" x 6" x 7' cedar *
#9 x 3" outdoor screws
#9 x 2" outdoor screws
waterproof glue
1⁄4" x 3" lag screws
1⁄4" x 4" lag screws
2 2" L brackets
* (Specify “clear” or “select tight knot”)


To begin, transfer the measurements for the ladder rungs (Figures 3 and 5) onto the two pieces of 2" x 8" x 7'. (The legs only measure 71", but I used 7' pieces to compensate for any end checking.) Pay close attention to knots; you want to avoid any at the top of the handle cutouts. Because the ladder itself is designed with a 3⁄12 pitch to make getting up and down easier, the rungs must be set on an opposing 3⁄12 pitch so they’ll remain level (Figure 2). Remember to reverse the layout on one of the leg pieces so that the dados the rungs fit into will be on the inside of each leg, not on the inside of one and the outside of the other. (Raise your hand if you’ve never made that mistake!)


Rip the bottom 47" of each leg to a width of 51⁄2". This is easily done with a table saw, but a circular saw and a guide will work just as well. (Remember to stop short of the notch if you are using a table saw.) Take out that trusty – not rusty – old handsaw to finish off the rip cut and to cut the notch where the ladder will rest on the dock (Figure 5). Clean up the cut with a flat file.


Cut a curve at the top of each leg. A friend of mine has a band saw, so a few minutes spent in his basement was worth the burger and beer I offered in exchange. Obviously, not everyone has a friend with a band saw, so you could try cutting the curves with a jigsaw. However, as I’ve pointed out in previous articles, despite the quality of the saw and/or the blade, a less- han-perpendicular cut is often the result when working in thicker material – frustrating to say the least. As an alternative, you might want to try making a template fashioned out of 1⁄8" masonite or 1⁄4" plywood (Figure 1). Keep in mind that the template provided is only a rough guide; the actual width of your working template will depend on the size of your router’s base. Secure the template to the ladder leg, then use a plunge router and a 1⁄4" or 1⁄2" straight bit to cut the curve. Unfortunately, this method works best only if you own or can borrow a router with a round base, and it is difficult to find a 1 ⁄4" or 1⁄2" bit long enough to cut all the way through 11 ⁄2" lumber (on a previous project, a picnic table, I had to finish the job with a jigsaw). This method does have an advantage over the band saw, though: If the bit is of good quality, the finish cut is generally very smooth, so a lot less sanding is required.


Drill 2" holes at A and B in each leg (Figure 5), using a Forstner bit or a hole saw. Draw straight lines to connect the holes in each leg to form 2"-wide slots. These will create the handles for climbing up. Cut out the slots either with a jigsaw or by using the router method described above (a simple straight router guide will keep your cuts parallel).


Before cutting the dados that the ladder rungs fit into, check the leg layout one more time. Construct the simple jig featured in Figure 4 from scrap wood. The distance between the guides, as noted in the diagram, depends on the size of the router base and the width of the dado. In Figure 3, I have included a plus or minus symbol in reference to the 11⁄2" dado width. There is some variation in lumber dimensions, so set the guide according to the thickness of the material you’re using for the rungs. Cut the dados to a depth of 1⁄2". A plunge router makes cutting the dados an effortless task, though an ordinary router will do the job, if more slowly. (You will have to reassemble the guide to do the other leg.) Drill 2 holes through each dado with a #8 countersink bit for the #9 x 3" outdoor screws that will be used to secure the rungs to the ladder legs (Figure 3).


At 31⁄2" wide, the braces that secure the ladder to the dock looked too bulky, so I decided to cut the 2" x 4" pieces to length, then rip them to 23⁄4" (Figures 3 and 5). A simple butt joint probably would have done the job, but I chose a little fancier, and perhaps more secure, union. The only drawback is that the braces must be the exact length (actually, a little longer wouldn’t be difficult to correct, but a little shorter would cause inappropriate language and hand-wringing). The brace length indicated in Figure 5 should only be considered an approximation; check your own dock for an accurate measurement. Join a brace to each ladder leg using waterproof wood glue and # 9 x 3" outdoor screws. Do not drill the holes for the lag bolts that will attach the other end of the brace to the dock surface until you have the ladder in place on your dock.


From the piece of 2" x 6", cut the rungs to a length of 19" (Figure 3). Round the front top edge of each rung and the inside and outside edges of each ladder leg, including the inside of the handrail slot using a router and a 1⁄2" round over bit. Sand.


Assemble the ladder, using waterproof glue and #9 x 3" outdoor crews to secure the rungs to the ladder legs. Wipe off any excess glue.


Cut the spacer block (Figures 3, 5, and 6) from the remaining piece of 2" x 4". Drill and countersink attachment holes as per Figure 6. The position of the spacer block between the ladder and the face of your dock will determine how wide it should be. It’s a bit of a fiddle, but since floating docks come in all shapes and sizes, the final size and position of the spacer block must be custom fitted. The position of the spacer block featured here corresponds to the top of the flotation skirt on my dock.

STEP 10.

Give the ladder a final sanding and finish with varnish or leave au natural. You might also consider adding some type of tread strip to minimize slipping, as we did. Bend the L brackets to match the 3⁄12 pitch of the ladder, and attach them to the ladder above the notch (Figures 3 and 5), using #9 x 2" outdoor screws. Attach the other end of the L bracket to the dock surface the same way. Fasten the braces to the dock surface with 1⁄4" x 3" lag screws. Finally, secure the spacer block to the face of the dock using 1⁄4" x 4" lag screws. This ladder is a little heavier but far more attractive than the metal or plastic versions. And the cedar should guarantee it a relatively long life

Free Wood Swimming Ladder Plans
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free wood swimming ladder wood plans
free wood swimming ladder wood plans

free wood swimming ladder wood plans

free wood swimming ladder wood plans

free wood swimming ladder wood plans


If you like this free set of wood plans, you should check out the plans we charge for!  Please make sure you check out our shed plans in our shed plans package before you leave our site and see if they meet your needs!  Our shed plans package has thousands of plans like this included in an easy to print PDF format.