I've been wanting to build K a brachiation ladder for quite a while. I even bought the dowel & hardware last fall but kept putting of building it because with the directions in Glenn Doman's Physically Superb book you need to drill holes & without a drill press it is hard to line them up just right...............at least for a carpenter with my experience ;) . I'm sure I would have ended up having to drill out the holes to get the dowels to go through & of course they wouldn't have been as snug.
Through the summer we have a old set of monkey bars in our yard but as fall closed in this year I again thought about ways to make a brachiation ladder. Being able to use them indoors makes a huge difference here in Canada where we have fairly long & cold winters. I posted the question on the Unlimited Potential (UP) group as well as the Down Syndrome Action Plan group. I got a great response from both groups & on the UP forum there were even a bunch of pictures posted. Check it out here.
None of the ideas seemed exactly right for what I wanted to do but they did get me thinking & I came up with a plan to make a brachiation ladder that was a little simpler to make.
This tutorial is for a ladder that is mounted directly to a wall or across a narrow room. The plus side is that you don't need to build the end supports but the negative is that it's not as easily adjustable.
note: I was concerned that because our ladder was going to be up against the wall that it would need to be a little wider. As it turns out that really wasn't a problem. This tutorial is to make a little wider ladder but you could always make the end boards & dowel a little shorter to make the ladder a little more narrow. Basically you can just build it to what suits you & your child.
First of all - this brachiation ladder is meant to be installed across a narrow room, hallway or any space that isn't too long. Before you get started you need to measure the length of your space to make sure you buy long enough boards.
Tools - drill, hand sander, saw, tape measure, level, an extension cord will be handy
Two long - 2X6's - This type of brachiation ladder is meant to be fitted into the wall or across a narrow room so you will need to measure your space & buy the appropriate length boards
Two 23" - 2X6's - I explained about K's physical program & K batted her beautiful eyes at the nice lumber yard guy & he walked over to his scrap pile, found a large 2X6 & cut it into 3 large chunks - way more than we needed!
tip - many hardware stores will cut the boards for you after purchase. Measure carefully though as you want it to fit very snugly into the space you are putting it in.
1" dowel -for the length of ladder I was making I needed 3 lengths of 1" dowel. Again, this may vary depending on the length of your ladder space & which lengths are available at your hardware store.
3/4 " hole straps - don't buy 1" ones like I originally did as they are too big & don't hold the dowel tight enough - even these were a little large (as you'll see as you get a little farther in the tutorial) you may even be able to buy 1/2 " ones but check first to see if the dowel fits through.
Sandpaper - I bought a few kinds - some courser & some finer grit
twenty four - 3.5" screws - 12 for putting the ladder together & about another dozen to secure it to the wall.
approximately forty eight - 1.5" screws
I just noticed that our newly adopted little dog & one of K's best buddies is in this picture. Isn't she cute?
The first thing that I did, which I don't have a picture of is to sand all of the boards excluding the dowel, first using the coarser sandpaper, then the finer grit.
Pre drill 3 holes on each of both long 2X6's.
Cut the shorter boards to 23 " & use the 3.5 " screws to fasten them to the longer boards using the predrilled holes.
Re sand the spot that your daughter drew on because she was being a carpenter & had to write some fancy symbols on the wood - normally I leave this kind of artwork but not this time :)
This is what makes this method so much simpler than a traditional brachiation ladder.
The clampy thingies were still a little to loose so I bashed them with a hammer to make them a little flatter.
Continue to mount the dowel along the full length of the brachiation ladder.