Making Two and More

I am almost through the series on making a beautiful stepladder. What makes a stepladder beautiful? It’s beautiful because I made it with my own hands, my own power, my own strength, my own mind. It’s beautiful because it’s simple to look at. It’s simple because it’s functional and it’s beautiful because I see form follows function. There are other reasons that it’s beautiful. It’s made from wood that’s being revitalised from its condemned state. It’s beautiful because it’s Brazilian mahogany. It’s beautiful because it’s so very lovely to work with. It’s forgiving, strong, light colourful, rich and these elements make it beautiful too. Mostly it’s beautiful because I have made the stepladder twice and it’s beautiful because of another wonderful, very wonderful thing. I made it with my friends watching and listening as I made first the prototype but now the actual film series. It’s beautiful because Ellie and Phil trace my hands with the cameras, listen to what I want to express visually and suggest ways to make the vision a reality of beauty for those who will watch it and make it along with me and us. It’s beautiful because Mark at the opposite side of me looks at me when we film and when “it’s a wrap” gives me the thumbs up and smiles  to encourage me in his liking of it. It’s beautiful because Cristina takes care of what’s important and then more and she does it because she cares about my work and my working.

Joseph jumps in periodically to help steer things, makes a change, and the whole thing snaps in place. So you see I see faces that make a very beautiful thing on the other side of the lenses. And now there’s Hannah too who shares our enthusiasm for the very lovely work we do. You see it’s not just a couple of lovely, no beautiful stepladders I am making, but videos, beautiful videos, with a backdrop of behind the scenes people that make it happen.

You see too that, just when I might retire, a new world started to unfold for me where six more young lives began working together in a very different world than the one I knew. This is why I continue to say to myself every single day it’s not what you make that’s so important but how you make what you make because that alone determines the outcome and that is beauty.


  1. Looking forward to the film (video) being released.
    Oh how I wish there was a wood reclamation centre near where I live so I too could procure such species (Brazilian Mahogany or the like). Thank you Paul and the team, a lovely thing you do.

  2. Thanks for these interesting postings. I hope you can keep them coming for a good long while!

  3. Can we get some details on the hinge used, so we can get ready? Thanks

    1. Eric,
      Just enter step ladder hinges or trestle hinges in your search engine, and I’m sure you will find many examples as I have just done.

  4. I agree, there is beauty in simplicity of form and function. I think that is why I am not only love woodworking, but am enamored with woodworking hand tools. The beauty of the lines of a spokeshave, a chisel or plane is enhanced by their simplicity. The fact that each is uniquely suited to it’s purpose despite that simplicity only makes them seem more special.

  5. What a great idea for a new series. My current stepladder is literally on its last legs (ho, ho, ho), so this is very timely. Without suggesting you test the stepladder to destruction, are you able to calculate a safe maximum loading weight for it. Porkers like myself (17 stone / 108 kilos), might be just too much for them.

    1. I would make the sides thicker b nit much and then thicken the treads. A good test for thickness of treads is to span a board over two bricks and put the dead weight as centred as possible. Add extra weight in two hands to see how it feels. Two bags of chicken feed is 50lbs per bag.

      1. Another pearl thanks Paul. I was reading a book about traditional timber frame construction the other day and it was talking about load bearing weights. It said that a 6×6 inch pole made of oak is strong enough to support the weight of a house. Obviously that’s along the grain with the pole standing straight up. I think that’s amazing.

  6. An additional element of beauty is that Paul’s lessons, videos and writings are available not only for those of us who enjoy and employ them now but that they are captured and preserved in usable form for future generations of beneficiaries. Those who follow will have equal opportunity to use them in exactly the same “straight from the plane and straight from the horse’s mouth” way and with nothing lost in translation. Well, at least nothing more than the “English to English” issues we must now endure :).

    Paul continues to remind us that the hand tools and techniques in his teachings date back hundreds if not thousands of years. It’s comforting to know that the fortunate coincidence of technology and communication afforded by the web has now provided him both the motivation and opportunity to indefinitely expand his sphere of influence and share the knowledge, wonderment and life experiences he has gained through his chosen work.

  7. I’m really looking forward to this series! Thank you for the regular inspiration and encouragement.

  8. When I read your blog and watch your videos I am reminded of a certain trustworthy saying which is proven true in Paul Sellers’ case.

    “Have you beheld a man skillful in his work? Before kings is where he will station himself; he will not station himself before commonplace men.” – Proverbs 22:29 

    And I am glad Paul is gracious enough to share his passion with us all. Thank you!

  9. Retire ? No, No , a thousand times NO. You have way too much to pass on to the rest of us.

  10. Traditionally, would ladder components be riven rather than cut to increase strength?

  11. Hi Paul…I can still see your tantalising collection of moulding planes?

    I have a small collection ….about 50 and would love to see you using them….with a sticking board…….I have asked before, along with others.

    I spend hours just using them with help from Utube and a Bill Anderson (USA) video


    Regards John

  12. Hi Paul,

    I very much like the ladders that you have made.
    Any idea when the videos might be available?



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