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Loft ladder folds in and out of the way.

Loft ladder folds in and out of the way

To ease the ascent to a sleeping loft tucked beneath his home's cathedral ceiling, architect Lawrence Steiner designed this two-position, swing-out ladder.

During the day, the hinged foot folds in so the ladder stores flat against the wall. When it's time for bed, guests simply swing the ladder out and flip down the foot; it anchors the ladder at an easy-to-climb 20| angle.

For the side rails, Steiner used two 92-inch lengths of clear redwood 2-by-3. Spaced 17 inches apart, the rails extend 10 inches higher than the floor of the loft to provide room for handholds. Sturdy 4-inch strap hinges attach the ladder to trim on the joist along the loft's outer edge.

Steiner spaced the treads 12 inches apart. For the top six treads, he used mahogany 1-by-3s cut into 18 1/2-inch lengths. He glued and nailed them into dadoes routed at a 20| angle across the side rails. This way, when the ladder swings out, the treads lie parallel to the floor.

In profile, the ladder's foot looks like a right-angled triangle with the top cut off. It consists of a slightly longer and narrower mahogany tread attached to a center stabilizing panel and two wedge-shape side panels.

This lowest tread measures 2 by 20 3/4 inches. It slides into dadoes routed just below the top end of each side panel. The center panel slips into dadoes cut vertically down the middle of each side panel. (The pairs of dadoes meet at a 90| angle along one edge.) Center and side panels were cut from 3/4-inch mahogany plywood; visible edges were banded with matching veneer tape.

Steiner glued and nailed all dado joints. He used 4-inch strap hinges to attach the foot to the bottoms of the side rails.

Because the stored ladder clears the floor by a few inches, it's easy to vacuum underneath.

Photo: When not in use, ladder stores flat against the wall. For safe access to loft, it swings out on hinges and lowest tread pivots into place

Photo: Hinged foot flips down to create a flat, sturdy base
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Date:Apr 1, 1988
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