The idea of creating household pieces to function in two or even three different ways has challenged furniture makers for centuries, writes Alastair A. Stair. The English maker in particular has continually demonstrated a special ingenuity for combination pieces since the 17th century. One specialized form that clearly illustrates the technical devices they created is the English library ladder. The author describes a selection of ladders here and photos show how deceptively they conceal their dual purposes.

From Fine Woodworking #1