project completion - Built-in cabinets and shelving, with library ladder and LED shelf lights

Henry W

Senior User
Project for a client that took me waay too long. Here's a few comments:
- Finishing was a bit of a struggle; the LED install (under each shelf) and the making of the ladder was not nearly as easy as I expected.
- 9' ceilings and 11' wide. Had to modify the existing wainscotting on both sides to have it 'work'. I left the existing 11' crown piece in place behind this, as it was installed 'behind' both pieces that t intersected with; removal of that one piece of crown meant disturbing 3 pieces on 3 walls instead of just one piece on the backwall.
- 6 total units - 3 base cabinets and 3 uppers
- Maple face frames on all 6 pieces, installed in place (not a one piece frame)
- 5 piece Shaker doors (maple + ply) with domino tenon joinery. This portion is about the only part that went according plan without (many) glitches.
- Finish is Target Coatings acrylic pigmented 'lacquer' custom tinted to the white in the room already (very close to a pure white). Color and sheen match was excellent - as I can't tell which piece was coated with which coating.
- Thanks to Phil S for his assistance with Target Coatings primer when I needed some quickly.

Pretty happy with the end result, as are the clients.

Further ladder notes (in response to a query about how to make a ladder):

Of course the way to make a ladder is one step at a time, haha (and you follow the instructions...)

In this case I was purchasing hardware (the wheels, brackets, and ladder rail and rail mounting hardware). You can purchase complete kits, including both the wood side-rails (if that's the term) and treads; shipping these long side rails makes no sense since these are wood side-rails and I can deal with finding appropriate side rails (7/8" thick was called for I believe). CSH (a WC advertiser) ladder hardware kits have instructions on sizes of wood treads, the angles to dado the side-rails, and how to glue and screw the treads.

In this case I used Rockler black metal treads (client request), which are screwed into the 'rails' using barrel bolts; there is a male threaded screw with large washer head on the inside, and a barrel nut inserted from the outside. The holes of course need to be sized and placed carefully (good instructions available on Rockler's site).

I created a drilling template to locate these holes at the desired locations, and using a hand drill made both sides simultaneously (to maintain consistent errors if there were any). The challenge to this barrel bolt system is that the barrel bolts are a snug fit (appropriately) and any deviance of the hole from true perpendicular to the face of the side-rail makes assembly a challenge (DAHIKT).

Ladder Lessons Learned?
If I were to do this again I would use a thicker than 3/4" template to better ensure 'hole perpendicularity.' In the end this came together well, but a few bolts were a challenge to drive home. Using a drill press might help, but in my case I suspect that might have been worse because I don't have 8' of clearance on either side of my drill press or stand to support long pieces (these were 9+' feet long and holes spanned a 7+' length). So achieving perpendicular holes would have meant supporting the piece and checking level for every hole.

For a paint grade ladder, these metal treads were a top-notch choice, and I think created the visual contrast needed in what would have been a rather monolithic white piece (at least empty, it will of course have books and display pieces on the shelves). I use ladders a fair bit, and this one was as good as any commercial ladder I have used (except for the disconcerting slight L-R movement that can occur because it is on wheels!); this is also not a particularly long ladder. Metal treads were not cheap - approx $45-50 each I think... but check your vendor for real numbers. I used clear, straight grained hard maple for the sides. Also this is more a visual than a practical ladder, but it is very safe (my impression at least; and I am particular about ladders, especially when I am the one climbing them).

Phil S

Board of Directors, Events Director
Phil Soper
Staff member
Corporate Member
Thanks for your assist! Presuming you have received your primer?!
yep one of the best primers I know of. dries quick, high solids so it fills well and it does not clog sandpaper


Board of Directors, Vice President
Staff member
Corporate Member
Very Nice !. For the person who inquired about making a ladder. Both the Osha CFR 1926 book and some codes books in the back appendix actually have a little detail sketch on how to make one and how to make it OSHA Compliant ......... Who knew ?

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