Working safely from a ladder is a necessary homeowner skill. The American Ladder Institute offers a summary of ladder rules, and given the summer projects ahead, a review might be worthwhile. Who wants to be remembered for doing a dumb thing?
My 8’ stepladder has a narrow shelf at the top with holes for screwdrivers and a recess for holding a paint can. This is a nice touch, but there is no docking for important tools like a hammer or cordless drill. I often leave my hammer on the shelf, climb down for something, forget about the hammer, move the ladder, and stop the free-falling tool with my head. Last excursion I left the drill on the shelf, and Shawn, my right-hand helper, yelled a warning as I moved the ladder. Spray on Jedi reflexes that allow a DIY-er to catch tools faster than gravity can suck them in would be a great product to offer at the hardware store.
Many DIY projects are easier when we have help. That help may come in the form of an extra pair of hands, a cool attachment for a tool, or some ingenuity that propels us over an obstacle. I recall the story in Exodus 11 when Israel was at war with Amalek. When Moses held his hands up, Israel prevailed. Moses found those hands grew heavier with passing time, and he needed a solution. Aaron (his brother) and Hur (his brother-in-law) stepped up to help. They sat Moses on a stone and held his hands up for him. Israel won a great victory.
I am a longtime subscriber of The Family Handyman, a magazine well-worth a look for any homeowner seeking knowledge. Many unknown aspects of home projects are revealed in those pages. A recent issue offered an idea for conquering the-ladder-won’t-hold-my-stuff syndrome. I stared at the picture and decided I had to have one, modified, of course, for my needs. I call my simplified design the Ladder Buddy.
I searched the wood pile for a plywood scrap and found a piece 15”x28”. The wood, left from building my daughter’s workbench, was acquired from the Habitat Reuse Store. I have no idea who donated it, but “Isabelle loves John” was scrawled inside a heart on the back. There’s a hook for a good story. I measured the ladder just above the top step to get an approximate size for the cutout. The Ladder Buddy must slide far enough down the ladder so rocking is not an issue. If one tool is removed, the Ladder Buddy may shift, but it will not seesaw over the top of the ladder. After marking the cuts, I drilled pilot holes at the four corners to provide access for my jig saw. For the drill dock cutout I used a block of 2×4 as my pattern. I had to enlarge the opening a bit to allow the drill to slide in and out freely. For the hammer dock, I used a hole saw to drill an opening for the handle of my hammer. I will add other holes as needs arise.
Next, I beveled the corners at 45°. I recommend painting the Ladder Buddy to distinguish it from scrap lumber, or it may end up on another project. I will be repainting mine a brighter color at some point to add more contrast for my peripheral vision. I grabbed the Ladder Buddy instead of the ladder step at one point in an attempt to steady myself. Now, if I need to move the ladder with tools attached, I can do it. No problem.
Skill level: Beginner
Time: <1 hour
Value: I have used it twice and love it.