Retractable shop stairs

The steps Red Kessenich made to his overhead deck replaced his stepladder. “Now that I have a safer way to get to my storage, I use that space more,” says the Spring Green, Wisconsinite.  

The adjustment from the retracted to extended position takes only a couple minutes. A 1-inch-diameter shaft holding the cable drums is attached to the shop roof rafter, which is reinforced with double 2×4s on each side. The worm gear off an old manure pump, coupled with chains salvaged from a combine, is powered by a hand drill with a 7⁄16-inch socket. 

Wheels at the bottom are on brackets that, when rotated and pinned, lift the staircase, allowing it to roll up against the wall as cables draw it up. When pulled in, the stairs extend only 16 inches.   

The bottoms of the 1-inch square tubing uprights for the railing are fastened to the outer stair stringers using a 5⁄16-inch bolt with a washer between the tubing and the wood stringer. When the railings are folded up in place, the bottom two uprights are pinned.

“When the steps are up against the wall, I have a chain and a small binder to hold them,” he says.

Long slots cut in the bottom of the 2-inch schedule 40 PVC pipe handrail allow it to fold.  

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