Charlie Wyman

Pikler Ladder

View model on Fusion360

Preamble

Pikler Ladders are expensive. Building one seemed like a good idea. There’s many different designs out there, but none that I was terribly thrilled with. So I designed my own. Then I roped my friend Charlie into helping me build one (spoiler alert: other friends wanted one too…so we made four).

Design requirements:

  1. Safe to use
  2. As low-cost as practical
  3. Easy to store when not in use
  4. Varied angles of use
  5. Easy to make

Version 1

The original concept was this folding design that had two climbing positions, but could also be folded up. I originally was going to use ¾” diameter dowels, but wood is a rather vexing material in terms of strength — it’s what called an anisotropic material which means that it has different material properties in different directions. This is in addition to the varied strength tree-to-tree. I wasn’t confident that ¾” diameter dowels would be sufficient (“safe to use” requirement) and so I upped it to 1″ during Version 3 of the design. However, this designed was ultimately scrapped because the board along the bottom side was unnecessarily, a bit unwieldy, and wouldn’t fulfill the “as low-cost as practical” requirement.

Version 2

This used a removable bar that could be moved up or down a rung to vary the angle. I think this is actually version 2.5, which introduced the “scalloped” edges on the one side to allow the ladder to fold together all the way.

This design was ultimately scrapped because using 1″ diameter dowels didn’t leave sufficient edge margin (“safe to use” requirement) without going to a 1″x6″ board (which would have increased the cost — “as low-cost as practical” requirement). I experimented with offsetting the rungs, but decided that would make it harder to manufacture (“easy to make” requirement). Also cutting all the “scallops” would have been time consuming (also “easy to make” requirement).

Version 3

This is the design we ended up making (see the build notes for deviations and such) and the one I made the drawings for that you can download. I originally discounted this option because there’s no good way to get a 10″x20″x¾” piece of wood without buying an unnecessarily large sheet (“as low-cost as practical” requirement), but by building several ladders at once it helped make this more cost effective. This design also uses 1″ dowels

Material List

This was designed such that you should be able to buy everything at your local major hardware store (and probably most local stores as well). Poplar is recommended as a good compromise of quality, strength, and cost.

This was not sponsored by Lowe’s, but I did end up buying everything from there because they had Poplar dowels and Home Depot did not.

Total Cost: ~$74 (+tax)

Hillman ¼” Wood Insert Lock Nut, Brass
Hillman ¼”-20 x 1½” Machine Screw
Power Pro #8 x 2½” Wood Screw

Build Notes

  • Charlie and I built a total of four of these at first go and it took roughly 15 hours over five (I think) build sessions. So factor in setup and tear-down time as well.
  • You probably don’t need to secure the rungs with screws (though you will still need them to secure the Plate to the the Long and Short Leg Assemblies). We ended up only using screws for the first of the four we built (the rest just used wood glue). If you decide to use screws, it might be a good idea to use a shorter length for those that don’t go through the Plates — it’s a bit harrowing making sure the screws are sufficiently aligned so they don’t split out the dowels.
  • With the cabinet screws we used you don’t have to drill a pilot-hold for the dowels.
  • We broke the sharp edges on the boards using 120 grit sandpaper.
  • We sanded the dowels with 220 grit sandpaper to help give a good finish for little hands.
  • We put a small chamfer on the dowels to help them seat properly during assembly.
  • We used an edge-glued spruce board for the Plate, in retrospect we should have used a plywood with a veneer.
  • The Plate Assembly is a somewhat complex design to manually make. Because I needed to make eight of them I did some math and made a jig of sorts. However I also designed a paper template1that you can just adhere to your plywood.
  • The Storage Position hole is waaaay to close to the edge and will blow out. I’ve left it in the design because I like the idea of being able to keep the bolt with the ladder when it’s folded. If you want to include it then do what I did premptively blow out the hole and sand it so it looks nice-ish — otherwise don’t drill it.
  • If you’re building lots of these, maybe call ahead to make sure they have enough dowels. I ended buying every single 1″x48″ dowel that Lowe’s had on the shelf.
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  1. a trick I learned from https://www.youtube.com/user/Matthiaswandel  

The Wyman Engagement Photos

The View

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18.0 mm || 1/25 || f/3.5 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

Charlie Pondering His Future

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18.0 mm || 1/13 || f/3.5 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

Test Shoot with Rachel

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24.0 mm || 1/20 || f/1.6 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

Setting Up the Boat

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24.0 mm || 1/60 || f/1.4 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States


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24.0 mm || 1/60 || f/1.4 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States


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24.0 mm || 1/80 || f/1.8 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

Stephanie hoisting the lights

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24.0 mm || 1/30 || f/1.4 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States


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24.0 mm || 1/30 || f/2.8 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

Charlie Pondering His Future, Again

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24.0 mm || 1/50 || f/1.8 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

The Setup

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24.0 mm || 1/30 || f/1.8 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States


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24.0 mm || 1/50 || f/2.5 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

Surprise

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24.0 mm || 1/640 || f/1.6 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

That View

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24.0 mm || 1/60 || f/1.6 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

So Far, So Good

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24.0 mm || 1/60 || f/1.6 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

Dancing to the Music

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24.0 mm || 1/60 || f/2.0 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

What’s This? A Boat? With Christmas Carolers? In January?

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24.0 mm || 1/60 || f/2.0 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

Will You?

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24.0 mm || 1/60 || f/2.0 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

Three Cheers!

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24.0 mm || 1/60 || f/2.0 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

Huzzah!

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24.0 mm || 1/60 || f/2.0 || ISO3200 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

See the rest of the photos at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/afdn/sets/72157650275210685

Most pictures taken with: Nikon 24mm f/1.40

One Year Ago: Photo Time Capsule, Part III

The last month (of travel last year) was an interesting collection of friends from half a world away. I was with Charlie by this point (beginning of July) in Italy where we met up with his friend Andy, who’s from Germany but Charlie actually meet in Ecuador.

While in Italy, we also met up with James, who know both Charlie and me from Seattle, and Mark — who James knows from his time at Occidental.

I left Charlie in Italy and continued on to Switzerland where I met up with Quinn, a best friend from Seattle, at L’Abri. We then continued north and to hang out with Remo and Gunther, who first stayed with my family over 13 years ago in Seattle when Remo was in school.

After traveling with Quinn a bit, Charlie met back up with us in Prague (just in time for the tour). We finished touring together in Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany: Three great friends half a world away.

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18.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/3.5 || ISO800 || NIKON D70
Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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18.0 mm || 1/200 || f/4.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Aigle, Canton de Vaud, Schweiz


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18.0 mm || 1/13 || f/9.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70


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29.0 mm || 1/60 || f/4.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70


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18.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Praha, Hlavní město Praha, Česká republika


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18.0 mm || 1/15 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


Halt! Stou!
70.0 mm || 1/500 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Gmina Oświęcim, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/125 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland

via the Photojojo Time Capsule

This weekend is going to be ridiculously awesome! This evening, Carly and I are going Buzz Putting1 with a bunch of friends to celebrate Beth’s birthday. Then tomorrow we’re going to have breakfast and enjoy the Blue Angles — whom I haven’t been in town to see for the last two years — then a Polish wedding, a bachelor party2, all topped off with lunch with Jon and Kristen — who are getting married in less than a month — on Sunday!

Pyramid Formation Turn
190.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/6.3 || ISO400 || NIKON D70


Pyramid Formation
190.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/5.6 || ISO400 || NIKON D70


Bottom Side Pyramid Formation
70.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/9.0 || ISO400 || NIKON D70

Anyway, that wraps up the Photo Time Capsule series; hope you enjoyed the tour!0


  1. “combining the best of childhood and being 21+” 

  2. sans Le GF 

One Year Ago: Photo Time Capsule, Part II

I keep thinking back to where I was this time last summer1. By this point, I had traveled to 5 countries and traveled over 10,000 miles as the crow flies. By this time, I was a well versed international spy traveler and having the time of my life figuring out all sorts of things and interacting with so many interesting people (always remembering the Prime Directive though). In many ways, I am where I thought I would be today; in many ways, I’m not. That’s okay though; planning is guessing.

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18.0 mm || 1/160 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Avanos, Nevşehir, Turkey


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18.0 mm || 1/500 || f/4.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Selçuk, İzmir, Turkey


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18.0 mm || 1/640 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Ayios Konstandinos, North Aegean, Ελλάδα


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18.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/4.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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18.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Athens, Attica, Ελλάδα

Map of photo locations, showing travel progress from right to left

via the Photojojo Time Capsule

I’m going on an awesome hike2 tomorrow with The Edge and my friend Matt Matteson is in town for the 4th of July, it’s going to be rocking holiday weekend.

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  1. Santorini, Greece 

  2. Lake Serene 

Dateline: Berlin, Day 2 — Sandeman Tour, Again

Berlin, Germany
31 July 2009

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60.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/640 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


The Steles
70.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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70.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/640 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/30 || f/10.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/125 || f/22.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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70.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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22.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/125 || f/22.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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38.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/4.2 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland


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62.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Bundesland Berlin, Deutschland

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Dateline: Krakow, Day 3 – Schindler’s Factory

Krakow, Poland
29 July 2009

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50.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/2.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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50.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/2.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/25 || f/3.5 || ISO800 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/100 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/125 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/160 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/640 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/800 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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27.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/3.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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70.0 mm || 1/500 || f/7.1 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska

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18.0 mm || 1/50 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Dulowa, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 0.3 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Dulowa, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/40 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Dulowa, Małopolskie, Polska


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25.0 mm || 1/5 || f/3.8 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70

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Dateline: Krakow, Day 1

Krakow, Poland
27 July 2009

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18.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska


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18.0 mm || 1/15 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Kraków, Małopolskie, Polska

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