Jacob’s Ladder Toy

A Jacob’s ladder toy is a trip down memory lane for me. It’s probably the first toy I ever made with wood. I think I was 10 years old maybe, which indicates the difficulty level of this project. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A Jacob’s Ladder is a fun toy for children because it’s easy to use and it baffles the mind, frankly. It’s been a while since I saw one up close, so I have to think a bit to re-understand the workings again ๐Ÿ™‚

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So, about 30 years ago, I took a piece of scrap wood, a piece of ribbon and some staples, and I made this Jabob’s Ladder Toy. I don’t have it anymore, so I made a new one and this is the description of how to make it.

Here is how I went about it:

I went toย google and found an instructable which I’m going to repeat it here in my own words, but feel free to check the instructable out:

Materials needed

What you need in short is the following (below I will give details):

  • materials:
    • wood
    • nails
    • ribbon
  • tools
    • hammer
    • ruler
    • pencil
    • saw
    • scissors
    • sand paper

I needed to buy these materials in my hardware store:

  • 1/2 x 2 inch wood board. 24 inches (2 feet) long, or more
    • I found this in the DIY section of my hardware store, not under the lumber section.
  • some small nails.
    • preferable very thin, so as not to split the thin wood. They must have a head, preferably flat. On instructables it says that 3/4″ x 17 ‘wire nails’do nicely.

And in my craft store I got this:

  • some ribbon, 9 feet or so.
    • 3/8″ wide in colors you like. You can use up to 3 different colors, but I used 2 colors.


Regarding tools, I was already set, but if you need any of the following: you can find it in your hardware store:

  • small hammer
  • a ruler with a straight edge, or a try square
  • a pencil
  • a saw
    • I used a tenon saw, but any saw will do, since the sanding will perfect the cut.
  • scissors
    • any old kitchen scissors will do. Ask your wife where she keeps them
  • sand paper
    • I used course and fine.

Step By Step Instructions

1) cut the blocks

Using the ruler or try square, mark off 3″ pieces of the board.

I cut them at 3″ length, so they will measure 2×3 inch. I ended up with 13 blocks. I don’t do superstition so I used all of them. If you like, stick with 12 or any other number you like ๐Ÿ˜‰

If your blocks aren’t all exactly the same length: don’t worry, the Jacob’s Ladder Toy will still work.

2) smooth the blocks

Use sand paper to smooth the ends of. don’t make the edges round, just take the sharp edge off.

3) prepare the ribbons

Make sure you have three ribbons of each at least 4′ length.

4) nail the ribbons to the first block

As in this fantastic drawing:

5) nail the ribbons to the second block

Put the second block on top of the first block. Wrap the ribbons around the second block. Don’t pull the ribbons tight because then the toy won’t work.

Nail the ribbons as in this other fantastic drawing:

6) nail the ribbon to the rest of the blocks

Just like the previous step, repeat until the last block.

Final result

The final result will be in the video (that I still have to make) on top of this post!


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