Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rope Ladder


We're almost there guys. The interior is down to the moldings, we begin staining and varnishing tomorrow and it might have been the heat, but I swear I saw Tom staring blankly at some plumbing earlier. The progress has come on quick these last few weeks, despite the intense heat, and Mateo is relishing his new loft bedroom. Tired of having to ask our help everytime he wants to get up there he insisted on making a ladder. Here's how it went.


After opting for a rope ladder as opposed to cutting holes in a plank as we had first intended we set about locating some rope. The stuff holding up our long-since-redundant hammock in Tom's shambolic wood yard seemed ideal.


Next, after deciding that we didn't want to spend any money we went for bamboo. Luckily these choice specimen have been littering our yard for months so we grabbed them and headed for the shop.

Thankfully no carpenter ants living inside the bamboo came out as we were setting up. With the sun beating down we lazily prepared the essentials. For anyone wanting to recreate this project they were: rope, sticks of some description, drill with drill bit same diameter as rope, saw.


Bamboo can be tricky to work with. It grows in sections, each of which is sealed from the other by a kind of a knuckle. When making the ladder we had to make a choice about whether we wanted the ends of the rungs to be open or sealed. After cutting it we were able to see how it was inside, and realizing that there would be a lot of waste if we went with the sealed option, we decided to cut either side of the knuckles leaving the rungs open-ended. Just how we like things! (That blue on Mateo's face is chalk. I enjoyed a lie in this morning and when I woke up everyone, including the baby, looked like postmortem clowns).


With the pieces generally cut to size we then had to clean them up. There are probably many ways to go about this, but the easiest Tom found was to nip the rough bits off with the chop saw. This however is not advisable as when the material is not properly secured the saw blade can stick causing the material to kick back, which if you're unlucky can pull your hand into the path of the sharp and rapidly rotating blade.


To my amazement no one was hurt. Just as well, we haven't had health insurance for years!


The next stage is to drill holes in either side of each rung. At this juncture it is important to envisage which side of the rung will be your top and which will be your bottom. We chose the most concave side to be our top. Holes must then be drilled vertically through each end of the rung. We went with the gold Dewalt bit, its for metal really, but the other one was just too big.


Et voila!


Next up, carpenter ants or not, you probably need to finish the rungs. If using nice bamboo you might want to keep its natural waxy luster, but as ours had been alternately sodden and baked out by our trash cans since the winter we didn't have much to lose. Back at the house we gathered some scraps of sand paper and got to work.



Also, with bamboo, it has this furry stuff that grows on the inside that could get gross so we dragged a pair of Tom's old boxers through the holes to rid them of their funk.


Mateo liked this part.


Bad bug time then descended upon us, forcing us to flee inside from swarms of hungry mosquitoes. Once safe within we set about threading the rope through the rungs.


Mateo seemed to get the order this needed to be done in quite well. Start from the bottom, knot first then rung. Check the spacing, another knot, followed by another rung and so on. At this stage it is important to know exactly how long your ladder needs to be. Maybe placing the rungs out will help decide the order and always leave yourself more rope than you think you need as the knots use up quite a bit. Also, depending on the type of rope you use, it might be helpful to put some tape at the ends to stop it fraying.

With the ladder lashed together it was time to test it.


Impatient to see results we headed back to the bus.


Installing the ladder was simple, if not sweaty. All we did was drill four holes, two top and two bottom, and thread the rope through, knotting it at the back. Of course, everyone wanted to help!

And there you have it. One awesome rope ladder...


and one happy camper/jungle boy...


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