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Thread: Opinions...Is glue enough?

  1. #1

    Opinions...Is glue enough?

    Building 11' ribboned Sapele ships ladder. Sides are 5/4 by 6". The 9 treads are 18" wide 5 3/4" deep and 7/8 thick. Treads will sit in 1/2" deep stopped dados.

    Obviously all face to end grain glue joints, but would you trust going without fasteners?

    I was thinking screw/plug 4 treads (top, bot, middle) but want to get opinions. Thanks.
    Thanks,
    Fred

  2. #2
    Fred

    I think I would definitely use some type of fastner. I've never built a ladder. But with the dados that will give you some strength for the treads but I'd be concerned about any side to side movement.

    Sapele looks like a beautiful wood. Almost resembles a Mahogany. It has a Janka hardness of 1400 so it's around the hardness of Sugar Maple. I'm sure you won't get any vertical flex.

    I think if it was me building it I like your idea of a fastner and a dowel plug. Of course you could use a contrasting wood for the plugs and add some character to the ladder.

    Bill

  3. #3
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    No, glue alone is not good enough. It is an end-grain glue face, there's a fair amount of racking force, and the consequence of joint failure in use is severe.

    I'd add a 2"-tall stretcher under all treads, so the step cross section is T-shaped. Then I'd use three mechanical fasteners -- screws, miller dowels, etc -- at each end of all steps.

  4. #4
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    Traditional ladders have a metal rod that goes under the tread secured with nuts on both sides which provides both support for the tread and holds the joints together. Jamie's solution will give you an even stiffer tread, but I wouldn't rely on screws in end grain to keep the joints together. Miller dowels or cross dowel bolts would be a more robust solution.

    John

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    No, glue alone is not good enough. It is an end-grain glue face, there's a fair amount of racking force, and the consequence of joint failure in use is severe.

    I'd add a 2"-tall stretcher under all treads, so the step cross section is T-shaped. Then I'd use three mechanical fasteners -- screws, miller dowels, etc -- at each end of all steps.
    You guys always teach me something new..... I never heard of miller dowels, but they look very useful.

    Not sure I understand the need to a stretcher as at 7/8" Sapele is rock solid and will not flex when treads are stepped on. Would you add this to prevent ladder from pulling apart?
    Last edited by fred everett; 04-13-2019 at 11:05 AM. Reason: spelling
    Thanks,
    Fred

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    Quote Originally Posted by fred everett View Post
    You guys always teach me something new..... I never heard of miller dowels, but they look very useful.

    Not sure I understand the need to a stretcher as at 7/8" Sapele is rock solid and will not flex when treads are stepped on. Would you add this to prevent ladder from pulling apart?
    The stretcher's purpose isn't to make the tread stiffer. Its purpose is to make the tread taller where it joins the ladder rail. The added height gives more leverage against racking forces.

  7. #7
    I've built dozens of small ladders for children's beds in a manner very similar to what you describe, except my mortises where always 3/4' or deeper. IMO, 1/2" isn't much better than a butt joint I never had a ladder fail.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    .. but I wouldn't rely on screws in end grain to keep the joints together. ..
    It is true that an end grain screw has less holding power than a face screw for the same length of screw. So make the endgrain screw twice as long, or three times as long.

  9. #9
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    Personally, I'd be more comfortable with the addition of a sturdy metal fastener countersunk and plugged. If this is for a true marine application, be sure to use metal fasteners appropriate for that environment, even when they are hidden. The ladder I built for my recent bunk bed commission was glued but it also had sturdy #10 x 2.5" screws countersunk and plugged for added strength over time. "Long" fasteners is a good thing. Proper pre-drilling is essential.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by fred everett View Post
    Building 11' ribboned Sapele ships ladder. Sides are 5/4 by 6". The 9 treads are 18" wide 5 3/4" deep and 7/8 thick. Treads will sit in 1/2" deep stopped dados.

    Obviously all face to end grain glue joints, but would you trust going without fasteners?

    I was thinking screw/plug 4 treads (top, bot, middle) but want to get opinions. Thanks.
    No, you need something to TIE the two sides together in several places (top, middle, bottom). Glues and screws as you decribed is no good.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Personally, I'd be more comfortable with the addition of a sturdy metal fastener countersunk and plugged. If this is for a true marine application, be sure to use metal fasteners appropriate for that environment, even when they are hidden. The ladder I built for my recent bunk bed commission was glued but it also had sturdy #10 x 2.5" screws countersunk and plugged for added strength over time. "Long" fasteners is a good thing. Proper pre-drilling is essential.
    Thx. It's a loft ladder so no environmental issues. Seems long screws plugged is the consensus. Would you screw every tread? Obviously the goal is to not interrupt the beautiful Sapele ribbons....or interrupt as little as possible would be a better way to say it. Of course I don't want it to fall apart.

    I have experience plugging Sapele....it is very tricky. Doable, but tricky with the way the ribbons change at different angles.

    So I guess a new consensus question. Would you guys screw every tread?
    Thanks,
    Fred

  12. #12
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    If you don’t want anything showing on the outside of the rails, I suppose you could think about dovetailing the steps.

    If you are using screws, then yes I would definitely screw every step. I have kids, and they have a way of making things move that are not supposed to move.

  13. #13
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    Lag Bolts

    I have both built and repaired boat lots of boat laddersThe standard is usually 2 lag bolts on each side of the steps counter-sunk and plugged. You can get a plug cutter to fit an electric drill and make your own. I also always used the non-skid black stair treads which are quite pricey They are made for boat use. We have lived on my boat for over 20 years and I can tell you from experience, this project is not the place to cut corners. Actually, there is no place on a boat to cut corners, so to speak. I have always used white oak with a clear lacquer or a high grade marine varnish finish - no stain. And a high grade marine varnish is not something you can find in Home Depot. The lighter color will make the interior feel much bigger.
    Retired, living and cruising full-time on my boat.
    Currently on the Little Tennessee River near Knoxville

  14. #14
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    Yes, trying to grain-match plugs on a chatoyant wood like sapele is very difficult. Instead consider a contrasting wood like wenge or ebony.

  15. #15
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    I would look at the photos of the San Francisco fire department ladder shop. I am sure they know how to make. proper ladder that will hold up for years.
    Bil lD.

    Looks like tie rod every forth rung or so with brackets at top and bottom. I am very surprised the rungs are round but it really is a non issue with ladder soles in their boots. I bought a pair of fire boots for pressure washing on a ladder and they have a ladder sole. No pressure on the arch at all with a steel plate inside the sole to spread the rungs presssure out.

    https://hookandirons.com/blogs/hook-...co-ladder-shop
    Last edited by Bill Dufour; 04-13-2019 at 5:55 PM.

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