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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I've been silent here for a while. Lots going on.

I'm currently working on making a "ships ladder" for my granddaughter's "tree fort" that I want to have hand-holds cut and routered into the side rails. The openings would be on the order of 1 1/4 - 1 1/2" wide, 12-18" long. Side rail material are 2x10 lumber.


I am concerned that her hands may to too small to grasp the full width of the 2x lumber, so am considering reducing the width along the hand holds, to 1" and using roundover bits to curve the corners. This would leave sharp transition from reduced with to the raised portion of the non-reduced rail, which I would like to also roundover.


This operation would require a roundover bit (>= 3/8" radius) that can cut flush with a surface rather than be guided by a bearing. That is, the roundover bit would have to not have a bearing mount and would have a flat/flush cutting "end". I found a couple Freud bits but the radii are way too small.


Is anyone aware of a bit that would serve my needs here? If there is another way of accomplishing this, please let me know. I have debated with myself whether reducing the width is even necessary or desirable. For the moment, I am pursuing this, although I am very open to being convinced it isn't necessary, ie., if she is too small to grasp a 1 1/2" wide hold, then maybe she is too small to be climbing a ladder 8ft high, etc. Or, she is almost six and on the big side for her age, so she actually can grasp that wide of a hold. I should determine this directly, which I will do when there is an opportunity. But, in the meantime...

Thanks,

Rick
 

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I'm not understanding why it can't be a bearing guided bit Rick. That's what I would use to achieve what's shown in the picture. At least a 1" radius. That would leave a flat in the middle for the bearing to ride on. You could go over 1" but they start getting pretty pricey over that size. You might have to go down in steps if the slot is narrow enough that the bit will touch both sides when at full depth.

By the way, the bearingless bits are called ovolo bits. That might help you search for others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Chuck,

I'd love to be able to use a regular roundover bit with guide bearing. However, there is no cavity into which the bearing would project, to be guided by. It is the 3/8" radius (in the photo above) that I want to radius, where the mating plane is flat.

Ovolo bits! That is the ticket. Found them at Infinity Cutting Tools but I'm sure other suppliers would have them. I just need to find out if stores I might be near this weekend have what I need in stock.
https://www.infinitytools.com/ovolo-router-bits-4993
Tool accessory

Thanks,

Rick
 
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Is this a continuous, full length of the rail, or just spaced out hand holds?
If it is full length I would rip the step on the table saw and then use the router with an edge guide the length of the rail and a template bushing to make the cut with the bit you choose.
If it is hand holds spaced out, then a plywood template and router bushing along with a straight bit , then the round over bit and a 3/8" larger template cutout. The top round over (1") can be a bearing guided 1/2" BB Bit.
Just a suggestion.
Herb
 

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Okay I think what you are wanting to do is rout finger groves on the sides rather than finger holes? If that's the case then you are on the right track with ovolo bits. They are fairly common I think but maybe not in larger diameters.
 

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Good suggestions. A comment on the top of the ladder: I would extend the handrails up another foot or so because as she climbs the last couple of steps, she will run out of handrail. As an old guy, when I get on an extension ladder, I always run it up at least 4 ft or so higher than the roof I'm trying to reach. That gives me something to grip as I swing off the ladder and onto the roof. You can stop the rungs at the platform level, but extend the side rails another 18-24 inches.

I like the way you swept the handrails forward in your design because with a little more height, she will be able to hold on until she transfers her footing firmly onto the platform. The more vertical the ladder, the more you need that extra side rail length.

She is pretty young for a ladder that tall. An 8 ft fall is a bone breaker and concussion risk. What would happen if you created some large loops to catch her if she loses her grip? like the safety cage in the pix. You could use aluminum for the rings, wood for the vertical parts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Is this a continuous, full length of the rail, or just spaced out hand holds?

If it is full length I would rip the step on the table saw and then use the router with an edge guide the length of the rail and a template bushing to make the cut with the bit you choose.

If it is hand holds spaced out, then a plywood template and router bushing along with a straight bit , then the round over bit and a 3/8" larger template cutout. The top round over (1") can be a bearing guided 1/2" BB Bit.
Just a suggestion.
Herb
Thanks for the thoughts. I have not decided yet whether it is full length or just at the hand holds. Yes, the hand holds are spaced out, as in the photo, just not as long (12").

I would really like a full length step. I would like to rip the step as you suggets, but I think I do not want to attempt it with the table saw that I have (Sawstop Jobsite). I love the saw, mostly, and am simply thrilled to have a table saw. That said, I am seeing more reasons all the time why I should "make" the room for a larger saw. With the router table and the saw, a comparable amount of floor space is occupied as would a larger Sawstop with router extension table. Both of the latter would be much better than what I'm working with now.

The existing fence, while OK for a lot of uses, is not really up for ripping a 2x8x8ft edgewise. At least not without a lot of help, in form of fence extensions, both longitudinal and vertical and I would want another person to help with the heavy lifting and holding during the ripping. I do not have another person to help with this.

So, I'm not sure yet what I would do to put the step in at each hand hold, except to say that it will involve templates and bushings, etc., as you suggest.

"...the bit you choose..." is the operative question, which is the only point to my initial question/post. I believe the Ovolo bit is what I want.

My dilemma is where to find/get one. I need to go to a major city to get some vitals from Costco. Woodcraft is having a sale event Sat. Both are located 1) three hours east in Boise, ID or 2) 6 hours west in Portland, OR. I have a gathering of friends that I could attend in the Portland area, but was not going to go because I really didn't want to drive 6 hrs twice in three days. But, I may break down and do the trip to Portland. Better chances of finding the Ovolo bit I want there also.

So, the beat goes on...

Rick
 

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Nice. But if I were making a "ship's ladder" I would go more for a real ship's ladder, with pipe hand rails. As Tom said, a cage would be a good idea, they do have cage ladders on ships, but they all seem to be vertical. But be easy enough to adapt a cage. I would just put pipe handrails on what you already have, be more authentic, and be different.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow, that has been a lot of information. Good thing this ladder is not really moving that fast with me likely making a trip to Portland this weekend, maybe I'll have time to think about it all.

Most likely, I'll continue down the path I've already laid out. Making this version of a ship's ladder, without bona fide rails, is actually a huge step up in safety from what they will be replacing. In addition to making this ladder, I recently completed installing guard rails on a small platform off of an elevated fort that had been built (by the previous owners of the place my daughter and granddaughter recently moved to) and used as a launching point for a rope/tree swing. The platform is about 8ft above the ground.
Shack Tree house Outdoor structure

The existing ladder, assembled by my granddaughter's Mom, consists of two sections of above-ground-pool ladder, lashed one above the other, onto two 2x2s as uprights, all of that lashed to platform. Scared the heck out of me, for my granddaughter's safety, as I did not dare climb that ladder. I put the orchard ladder there just so I could climb into the fort, but it cannot remain there full time. I definitely agree that a fall from that height could be seriously injurious or fatal. All of this is why I'm building the ladder in the first place.

Even building the ladder was not a given, given that it isn't my place and it isn't my child, so I was not the one making decisions. I was glad when my daughter was not only receptive but welcoming of my offer to build a sturdy ladder (I think she was afraid to climb the one, also). I'm pretty certain that reception would not extend to a gage-enclosed safety element.

Getting late, later,

Rick
 
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