Day 3 of making the ladder (by )

Well, after two days of prior work on the ladder, yesterday I settled down to another day.

I started by welding together the second side of the ladder, to match the first. With that done, I now had the two sides of the ladder, ready to join them together with the rungs:

Both sides are now complete

With that done, I carefully aligned everything on the welding bench and ground the welds on the inward sides down so that the rungs could fit on nicely:

Ready to start welding the rungs in

I set the rungs back half a centimetre where they were attached at the same point as a spacer, so they were welded both to the uprights and to the spacers, as I felt this would be stronger. The pieces of wood you can see under the rungs are maintaining that spacing.

Now, as I mentioned before, I'm not very good at welding; I can make things structurally sound, but not pretty, because my welds often go wrong and I have to go over them again. This usually leads to big, messy, welds, and on a couple of occasions with this job, I actually melted a hole in the metal and had to patch it up. Here's one particularly terrible weld:

Bad weld

I ground the lumps around the edge of the hole down:

Bad weld ground out

Then welded a metal plate over it:

Bad weld bodged

This, in contrast, is I think the neatest weld I've ever made:

A good weld

With all that done, the ladder was actually a ladder:

It's actually a ladder now

I sanded it down to get the weld gunk off, then washed it thoroughly in white spirit to remove the grease the metal came covered in, and laid it out in the kitchen to paint:

Sanded, cleaned and ready for painting

Then I gave it a priming coat and left it to dry overnight (I did it in the kitchen so it would be warm and dry overnight, rather than the cold and damp of the workshop):

Priming coat applied

It'll need another couple of coats of paint, and I need to cap the open ends of the uprights at the top, then I can mount it on the wall.

Part of welding that I always find quite profound is the way that a bunch of bits of metal, initially held together with clamps, and gingerly handled in case it comes undone, slowly transforms into a structure made of solid steel. This was driven home with the ladder project when, finishing the welds on the rungs, I found the best way was to lay it on its back like in the last photos and sit on it so the welds were flat (the best orientation, as molten metal likes to run away when the weld is vertical) and comfortable to reach; it didn't even flex!

I can't wait to be using it to get up on the roof. There's a flap of plastic sheeting lifting up in the wind and letting rain in, and I can't reach it in any other way...

Continue to day 4...

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