How to Build Your Own Mini Porch Lift in 6 Easy Steps

If you need a miniature lift, this short tutorial will teach you everything you need to build one for yourself.
Christopher McFadden

Do you have an elderly relative who struggles to get their shopping up their porch steps? Or perhaps you just need a handy little lift to do some of the heavy lifting?

Then this great little DIY lift by James Biggar will definitely do the trick. 

diy porch lift completed
Source: James Biggar

But, before we get stuck in we will need some things first. 

Tools and equipment needed

Step 1: Cut the main shaft steel tubing to size

First up, grab your 3-inch (76mm) by 3-inch (76mm) mild steel tubing and measure out a 60-inch (152.4 cm) length. Mark off straight lines to the top and sides using a builder's square. 

diy stairlift cut steel tubing
Source: James Biggar

Next, cut the mild steel tubing using a plasma cutter or other piece of suitable equipment. Whichever you choose, ensure you wear the proper safety gear and take precautions. 

diy stairlift plasma cutter
Source: James Biggar

Next, take your angle grinder and strip the metal bare along one edge. This is to prepare it for the next stage. 

diy stairlift angle grinder
Source: James Biggar

Next, grab a length of angled steel, and weld to the prepared steel tubing edge. You want to weld the shaped steel to one side, rather than encasing the corner. 

diy stairlight weld angled steel
Source: James Biggar

Then use some files, or your angle grinder, to clean up and smooth down any excess from the welding. Rinse and repeat for one of the adjacent edges. 

Next, mark out a small rectangle to the top edge of steel tubing. Cut out using your plasma cutter. These will be used to expose the pulley wheels later. 

diy stairlift cut rectangle
Source: James Biggar

Do the same for the opposing end of the same face of the steel tubing. 

Step 2: Prepare the pulley wheel mountings

Next, grab your 1-inch (25mm) by 1-inch (25mm) mild steel tubing and cut two equally sized, small lengths. Bore a hole through the center of one face using a stepper drill bit, and another towards the end of the adjacent face. 

diy steel tubing drill
Source: James Biggar

Next, bore a screw thread through the drill hole using a tapping screw. These will be used to hold the pulley wheels to the main steel tubing. 

diy tubing tapping screw
Source: James Biggar

Drill and tap matching screw holes on either side of the rectangular cutouts of the larger steel tubing. 

Next, take one of your pulley wheels and bolt to the lengths of smaller steel tubing you previously prepared. Attach the mountings into the small rectangular cutouts you made earlier in the larger steel tubing. 

diy stairlight pulley mountings
Source: James Biggar

Use hex bolts with matching nuts and washers. These are used to feed the electrical winch cable once the lift is installed and raise/lower the lift platform. 

Step 3: Create the lift platform cradle

Take the steel sheet, and bore a series of holes. These will be used as guides for cutting out the shapes needed from the sheet later.

Then, mark out and cut using your plasma torch an angled piece as shown below. Rinse and repeat for another piece of steel.

diy stairlift cut steek
Source: James Biggar

Cut another piece of steel sheet, and cut out a trapezoid shape, as shown in the image below. Weld the two previous pieces of steel to it.  

diy stairlift weld steel
Source: James Biggar

Next, mark out, and also cut out using your plasma torch, and x-shaped piece of steel. This will be used to reinforce the previous pieces of the steel sheets. 

Weld into place, as needed. 

diy stairlift reinforcement
Source: James Biggar

Cut and weld some other smaller pieces of steel sheet, as shown below. 

diy stairlift other pieces
Source: James Biggar

Next, take your RM2-2RS bearings, matching hex bolts, nuts, and washers, and attach them to two cut lengths of smaller steel tubing. Bolt to the base of the steel sheet cradle you previously created. 

diy porch lift bearings
Source: James Biggar

Note that the grooved bearings will need to run along with the angled steel runners you previously welded to the main lift shaft. 

diy porch lift bearings runners
Source: James Biggar

Align the bearings with the runners, and adjust the bolts as needed. The bucket will need to move smoothly along the length of the main lift runners. 

Step 4: Create and attach the steel frame for the lift platform

Next, take two more lengths of angled steel, and cut some v-shapes into their very centers. 

diy porch lift v shapes
Source: James Biggar

Bend the angled steel to form right angles and weld them into place. Match up the two corned angle steel strips and weld them together to form a square frame. 

diy porch lift square
Source: James Biggar

Create another shorter rectangular steel frame, and weld it to the center of the first, larger square frame. 

diy porch lift square frames
Source: James Biggar

Next, take your steel sheet cradle, and drill a series of holes into the sides using your stepper drill bit. Take your ball bearings and secure them in the cradle, as shown below. 

diy porch lift ball bearings
Source: James Biggar

Next, take some more grooved bearings, and your steel frame assembly, and secure them also to the main steel sheet cradle. 

diy porch lift frame and bearings
Source: James Biggar

Adjust as needed so that the steel frame can slide smoothly along the grooved bearings. 

Step 5: Paint the main steel assembly and complete the platform

Next, paint all the parts of the lift to the desired color. You can either hand paint using exterior proof paint or use spray cans. 

diy porch lift paint
Source: James Biggar

As always, ensure you either wear respiratory protective gear or paint in a well-ventilated space. Ideally, do this outside. 

Once the paint is dry, you can assemble the lift completely. Now, grab your lengths of timber, and secure them to the lift as shown below. 

diy porch lift timber
Source: James Biggar

Rinse and repeat until all lengths have been installed.  

diy porch lift lengths of wood
Source: James Biggar

Step 6: Attach/install the winch cable and secure the lift into place

With that, the porch lift is effectively complete. Now you will need to attach a winch and cabling to the lift. 

With that, the entire lift can now be installed in its final location. Siting of the winch, cabling, and controls will be dependent on the location, so plan accordingly. 

In this case, the winch has been mounted underneath the porch deck. 

diy porch lift working
Source: James Biggar

And that, as they say, is a wrap. With that out of the way, you are probably already eyeing up a new project.

Can we recommend actually making your own hoist

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