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Friday, June 10, 2011


A couple weeks ago I set out to make a really fun and simple wooden toy. It's a little ladder on which a block flips all the way down the rungs.

I fussed with it for the better part of two days before finally admitting defeat.


Here's my challenge for you. Shoot a video showing me how to make this and get it to work. Show me where I erred and things to look out for. Post your video as a video response on YouTube. I'll send out a Mere Mortals t-shirt to the first person to do so.

My apologies for this lame video, but here's how far I got. I hope it's enough to get you started:


  1. A man that's not afraid to admit failure. I admire that. Failure is how we learn. I have no clue about the toy but my interest is peaked.

    Bill Akins

  2. I know it's out of competition because it isn't a video,
    but i just have to say it:
    Make the steps out of dowels, (is that the word? - those round things)
    I would make one, but i have no saw and no dowels. xD
    And no camera that works for longer than 10 minutes. xD

  3. I was going to suggest the same thing that Xaromir did, use round rungs or dowels, but then the one in the picture looks like they're not perfectly round, but it's hard to tell. Also, it looks like your little blocks might be too heavy, i.e. too thick...but that's just guessing from looking at video of a picture in a book.
    I've got a book on toys somewhere that I think has this toy in it. Let me try to dig that out and see if I can find out anything. I don't think I'd be able to do the video but I'll pass on anything I find out.

  4. I found this, it might help.


  5. looking at the book of the original toy in your video it looks like you either have the rungs too close or the block is too long. also the toy in the video is on a base that keeps it at 90 degrees, maybe you are holding it at an angle?

    since you like old toys i will share this with you. i didn't want to post it on your fb and make it look like i was trying to get free advertising off your site (i'm not at all) but i make and sell wood toys at things like craft shows and street fairs. here is my website (which totally sucks but it was free) at least it lets me share pics. http://dbwoodntoys.webs.com/apps/webstore/
    just to prove i'm not trying to get sales off you, you can't even order through that website. i never set up the paypal thing or whatever. its literally just so i can share pics. the prices aren't even right.

  6. Steve,
    I got one. so I can't show you a video of making.
    I'll put a video on my blog for you to see.
    your rungs are way to think and wide.
    cheers Ian

  7. Steve,
    Like other suggestions use round dowels. Also on the flip-flop pieces you have a hole then a slot. Either get rid of the hole and just have a slot or make the transition from the hole to the slot beveled so the rung can't get hung up on the lip where they meet.

  8. To me it almost seems like the piece you are dropping is too well balanced on the rungs of the ladder. What if when you tried the weights you applied them both to the same side of the piece? That would hopefully be enough to force it to fall to one side, and then it would flip and fall to the other side on the next rung. If that works maybe drill the holes off center so it is purposely imbalanced to begin with. No idea if it would work, just spit balling here.

  9. Is my video first? And no the answer is NOT to use round dowels!

  10. BTW I'm the real Paul @ June 10, 2011 7:58 PM

  11. Steve, here's one that I'm pretty sure works. And as the previous post said, the answer isn't to use round dowels.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Hi Steve, I will try this out, this might be a shot in the dark but looking at the Pictures I would almost say you must try a wood that weighs less, maby the peaces is just to heavy and builds up to much momentum.

  14. This is just a guess.

    As the block is dropping and spinning to next location, the bottom of the block on both ends are even with eachother, try making the ends of the blocks uneven, so that the front section will go past the rung, allowing the back side to catch the rung, then do the same thing on the other end of the block.

    It's worth a try...

  15. los peldaƱos de la escalera deberian ser totalmente redondos, creo yo....saludos