Simple Homemade Scaffolding
Safe to use and inexpensive to build, A-frames and a couple of planks beat working from a ladder.
Synopsis: Veteran builder Mike Guertin argues that you can build these versatile A-frames for less than the cost of renting a 5-ft. section of scaffolding for one day. Here he explains how to build these A-frames from framing lumber.
Whether you work on houses for a living or just enjoy doing projects around your home, chances are you need to work up in the air sometimes. Staging, or scaffolding, is available for rent, but for what it costs to rent a 5-ft. section of scaffolding for one day, you can build a set of A-frames in no time at all. Not only are A-frames great for staging, but they are a versatile tool. I’ve used them for everything from sawhorses to temporary porch supports. And when the job is done, A-frames fold up for easy transport and storage.
Consistency is the key to building A-frames
The A-frames are simply a pair of ladders connected at the top of the legs with carriage bolts. But the ladders have to be identical to fit together, and to open and close smoothly.
For consistency, I build the A-frames on a table or a sheet of plywood supported by sawhorses. The surface becomes a template to lay out the ladders. Before I begin to lay out the ladders, I drill holes in all the 2×4 legs for the carriage bolts that serve as hinges. By aligning and drilling all the legs at once, I eliminate the chance of measuring the legs differently and the holes not lining up.
Then I align one leg with the edge of the plywood and snap a chalkline parallel to that edge to locate the second leg. To make sure the ladders are identical, I use the same edge and chalkline for each one and screw the legs to…