We can barely wait for the summer to begin so that we can pack up our things and head to the cottage. Whether it’s on the weekends as a break from work or as a longer stay, summer means long days exploring outdoors, splashing in the lake and collecting driftwood along the beautiful sandy beaches with the family.
Last summer, we collected some wonderfully large driftwood pieces that we've held onto knowing that we would use them in a future DIY. Since we've always loved the look of rustic ladders for the home as a way to display blankets, we thought that would be the best project to make with the driftwood. It would be the perfect piece to keep in the house year round as a reminder of the time spent together over the summer.
So with a simple plan in mind on how to make our "Graystone Beach Blanket Ladder", I headed to the nearest Home Depot to purchase wood for the ladder rails. We wanted to keep this project simple and affordable so I opted for the long 2"x2" wood pieces which cost under $5 for both! This wood can be found in the lumber section and is typically sold in 8’ lengths.
However, once we got together again to make the Graystone Beach Blanket Ladder, we quickly realized how each of our visions were not alike. The amazing thing about this piece is how much of a collaboration it truly is. This ladder just goes to show how two minds are definitely better than one. So the only question remaining is who will get to keep the piece in their home? Rock, paper, scissors?
EDIT: Since we originally published this blog post, we've created a full video tutorial for it on Skillshare. The class is made up of 9 short modules and includes a beautiful 8-page Project Workbook. You can check it out here through our referral link to get 3 months of Skillshare and access to thousands of courses for just $0.99!
Materials Needed to make your own DIY Rustic Coastal Graystone Beach Blanket Ladder with Driftwood:
- X2 6-8’ long 2"x2" wood, unfinished, finger jointed
- Mitre saw
- Orbital Sander with medium grit sandpaper
- Wood Paint (we used a dark charcoal trim and door paint) and paint roller
- X5 long pieces of driftwood sprayed with a clear coat of Urethane
- Drill and thin drill bit
- Copper ¾” tube clamps with 1.75" nails (package of x10)
Selecting the right driftwood pieces:
If you plan to make an A-frame blanket ladder (like ours) you'll need varying lengths of driftwood, from about 14" for the top rung to 28" for the bottom rung. For a ladder with parallel rails, you'll want to select driftwood pieces that are all about the same length, ideally 20"-24". Each piece should be about ¾” diameter to fit snuggly under the copper clamps. Make sure to select solid hardwood driftwood pieces which are completely intact (no cracks, thin spots, or holes) for the sturdiest blanket ladder. Finally, try and collect pieces of driftwood with nicely rounded ends rather than sharp, broken ones.
Prepare the rails of your driftwood blanket ladder:
Cut the 2"x2" pieces of wood (will be the ladder rails) to 6’ lengths using a Mitre saw. Cut the ends (one or both) on a 15 degree angle with a Mitre saw. These ends will rest against the floor.
Since the 2"x2" wood lengths are finger jointed, you’ll want to sand down the rough and uneven edges using an orbital sander. You can also sand the surfaces by hand, it’ll just take you a bit of extra time.
Wipe off any dust from the wood with a damp cloth before moving on to painting. With a small roller, apply the paint evenly to all sides of the wood. Let dry.
Positioning the driftwood rungs of your DIY Graystone Beach Blanket Ladder:
Once dry, lay the rails on the ground and space them 6” apart at the top and 20” apart at the bottom to create a sort of A-frame. Alternatively, you could have the rails lay parallel to each other with an equal distance at the top and bottom.
Make sure to lay the sides of the rails with the longest length facing up. The ends with the angled cut will be at the bottom of your ladder.
Mark the placement of the driftwood rungs. The driftwood pieces will lay over top of the rails. Starting from the top, place the first and shortest piece of driftwood about 9" from the top edge of your blanket ladder.
Position each other rung (from shortest to longest if making an A-frame ladder) about 12” apart. If you're happy with the spacing of your driftwood ladder rungs move on to attaching them to your ladder rails.
Attaching the blanket ladder rungs with copper tube clamps:
Start with top rung. Holding it down, place a copper tube clamp over the driftwood piece and drill a small pilot hole. This is not completely necessary but will make nailing the clamp in place much, much easier!
Continue this process until all four holes of the two clamps for your first rung are drilled. Hammer the nails through the clamp holes and into the pilot holes with the driftwood rungs in place.
Repeat this process next with the bottom blanket ladder rung and then continue until all the rungs are added. Be sure to re-measure as you go along as the pieces will have moved with the drilling and hammering. Once all your rungs are in place, you're done!
Lean your new handmade blanket ladder against the wall and add towels, blankets or leave empty to admire your work (it's beautiful on its own)! We love how our wool sand pebbled crochet afghan looks on the new blanket ladder!
Not only will we have this simple coastal decor idea for the cottage as a reminder of our beautiful summer, I'll have the memories of this time with the kids and them helping us to make this lovely piece of furniture. My son was quite proud of his hammering abilities!
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What do you love about summer? Do you have any favourite family traditions? Let us know in the comments below.