D.I.Y. timber dowel tower ladder


Project Overview

Create a centrepiece to truly call your own with our step-by-step guide on how to build a towel ladder. Using dowel rods as the feature, you’ll have a place to neatly hand your towels in no time.

Photo credit: Natasha Dickins and Sue Stubbs. Continue to step-by-step instructions

Step by Step Instructions

1 Measure up
2 Apply adhesive
3 Tighten the connectors
4 Sand the timber
5 Apply oil
6 Ready to use
  • Step 1. Measure up

    Work from either end of the dowel rod to measure and mark up the lengths, labelling with masking tape and cutting with a mitre saw. For the sides, cut two lengths each to 525mm, 455mm, 385mm, 315mm and 125mm. For the rails, cut pieces to 550mm, 500mm, 475mm and 450mm.

  • Step 2. Apply adhesive

    Set out the dowel pieces with the longest at the base. Dab adhesive into a connector and begin at the base of the ladder to install the side pieces, then the rail. Repeat with the opposite connector and side pieces. Continue until ladder is assembled. Use the mallet to tap on the end caps.

  • Step 3. Tighten the connectors

    Check each rail is secure by positioning and tightening a clamp to pull the connectors firmly onto the rails. Wipe around the connectors with a damp cloth to remove excess adhesive, then remove the clamp and move to the next rail to repeat. Place the ladder on a flat surface and leave to dry. 

  • Step 4. Sand the timber

    The adhesive expands as it dries and may congeal around the connectors. Use 180-grit abrasive paper with a sanding block to remove it while sanding the timber all over.

  • Step 5. Apply oil

    Use a clean dry cloth to evenly apply two coats of Danish oil over the timber sections of the ladder, avoiding the copper. Use another clean cloth to shine up the copper connectors and caps.

  • Step 6. Ready to use

    Tip: The width of the saw blade affects the length of your cuts, so mark up the dowel at either end with just one set of measurements, make the cuts then mark up again.

    Also keep in mind that Tasmanian oak is a heavier hardwood that’s more resistant to moisture, so is ideal for the ladder and planter. Pine is a lightweight softwood suitable for the hat rack, which involves lots of drilling.

Tools and Materials


  • Safety equipment
  • Measuring tape
  • 210mm compound mitre saw
  • White rubber mallet
  • Irwin Quick-Grip 610mm medium duty bar clamp
  • Clean rag cloths


  • Fine-tip marker
  • Masking tape
  • Sanding block with 180-grit abrasive paper
  • Three lengths of Porta 1.8m x 25mm Tasmanian oak dowel
  • Sikabond Techgrip 125g multipurpose polyurethane adhesive
  • Eight 25mm capillary tee equal copper connectors
  • Four 25mm copper caps
  • Cabot’s Clear Danish Oil

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our DIY videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member

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