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Where do you start building a set of stairs?

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Forum topic by dryhter posted 07-29-2010 01:51 AM 6059 views 2 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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dryhter

74 posts in 3070 days


07-29-2010 01:51 AM

Topic tags/keywords: video how to stair building stair calculations wood working resource tip trick oak clamp traditional

If you need to punish yourself, just want to watch a brain numbing video or need to learn how to build a set of stairs then watch this video.

When you need to build a set of stairs, where do you start?
Well, the simple answer is the height or rise of the stairs. That is the one fixed dimension amongst many variables. And get out your calculator because you are going to need it The first part of the video deals with the math in figuring out your stairway.

And for you experienced stair builders fast forward through all the boring math stuff and get to the part about how I use a pair of dividers to layout my stringers, a very accurate and precise method that negates compounded error. Let me know of your thoughts regarding this method.

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at WWW.underconstructionlive.com


16 replies so far

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TopamaxSurvivor

17674 posts in 3142 days


#1 posted 07-29-2010 09:10 AM

Sorry i don’t have time to watch the video right now, but why not just grab the framing square? :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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dryhter

74 posts in 3070 days


#2 posted 07-29-2010 02:41 PM

Topamax, That is a fair question and one that I thought about while making the video. I still use a framing square and those little brass buttons and I have added a chalk box and dividers to my stair building tool box.

Exterior stairs or utility stairs usually don’t have the same degree of accuracy that is needed for interior stairs and that is what I learned how to build first

By using the chalk box to snap a line on your stringer you negate any effects a crowned stringer may have on your accuracy and gives a defined line to walk your dividers down. Less guess work saves time.

By using the dividers to step off the point that the riser intersects the tread is more accurate than just relying on your judgement when using a framing square and quicker in the long run because you are no longer nudging over your square to line up or making allowances for pencil lines.

The bottom line is that it is quicker because you are working with defined points not guessing on lining up your square with your previous pencil mark and more accurate because you are not compounding the mistakes in judgement that are inevitable.

I start talking about layout at about the 36 min. mark of the video.

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at WWW.underconstructionlive.com

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CaptainSkully

1437 posts in 3025 days


#3 posted 07-29-2010 03:55 PM

Using the framing square and the knobs, I’ve always tried to hit 7” H x 11”D rise/run, and they’ve always worked out for me. I’ve probably built over 20 sets of stairs.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

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John Ormsby

1283 posts in 3203 days


#4 posted 07-29-2010 04:37 PM

There is an old formula to figure out the best tread to riser rate. It is 2 risers + 1 tread equals 25”. Here is a link that explains it well:

http://www.archturnings.com/Finding-the-Staircase-Footprint-nid-10.html

I sometimes go up to 26” But normally keep in the 25” range.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

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dryhter

74 posts in 3070 days


#5 posted 07-30-2010 01:00 AM

John
That was an interesting website, he does nice work. When building deck, utility or stairs of short run I usually just go with what I got to work with,but when building main stairs or any stairway over 5-6 rise I use three riser-tread ratios :

  • rise X tread width =72-76 ins.
  • rise+tread width=17-18 ins.
  • 2 riser + tread width=24-25 ins.

Tread width is the run unit not a tread width, like you would buy at the store. In other words it does not include the nosing or overhang past the riser, this gets kind of confusing sometimes.

The two common size treads you can usually find to buy are 10 1/2 and 11 1/2 in. treads. I like to keep the overhang or nosing at about 1 1/4 in. This lets me put a 3/4 cove mold under the tread like you might find in older traditional open stringer stairs if need be.

cove mold

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at WWW.underconstructionlive.com

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John Ormsby

1283 posts in 3203 days


#6 posted 07-30-2010 06:49 AM

The tread riser ratio set at 25” is referenced from the nose to nose no matter what the overhang. THe riser is self explanatory. I always lay out a set of stairs with a story pole and a full size layout for at least 2 tread/risers so as not to make an error on final layout. BTW, I made a similar set of stairs in your photo over twenty years ago. It was in oak.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

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TopamaxSurvivor

17674 posts in 3142 days


#7 posted 07-30-2010 11:25 AM

dryhter, I can see where calipers along the work line would be more accurate than flopping a square around ;-))

I was wondering why you don’t just divide by the probable number of risers instead of starting by dividing the total by 7.5? You know 14 or 15 will be the result in a standard house.

During the installation of risers and treads, it looked like you had to be putting them in from underneath. Why don’t you work with the stringers the other way with the installation surface of the blocks up?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Tony_S

607 posts in 2549 days


#8 posted 07-30-2010 01:17 PM

Some good basic information here, and I agree with the use of the calipers. Particularly for a rookie not used to laying out stringers. Accurate stringer layout is critical in the simplest stairs….more complicated stair design’s require ‘ultra’ accuracy. Calipers are a good way to achieve that in stairs with consistent runs.
I can’t say I’m really crazy about the actual construction used….but again, good for the first timer.

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

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dryhter

74 posts in 3070 days


#9 posted 07-30-2010 02:47 PM

John
That is what I meant about tread width being confusing, irregardless of how it is measured, it ( tread width ) is the unit of measurement used for figuring the horizontal dimension. The only time I use a story poll is when building curved stairs, the stringers are on the form. How do you use the story poll for straight stairs? Judging by your work I am sure they were beautiful. The kitchen is truly a work of art and your workbench,WOW.

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at WWW.underconstructionlive.com

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dryhter

74 posts in 3070 days


#10 posted 07-30-2010 03:13 PM

Topamax,

I guess because that is the way I was taught and am comfortable with it, it has never failed me. Each person should probably develop their own procedure depending how their head works I assemble upside down because it is easier ( for me ) to get to the fasteners and you want to make sure that your components are seated properly.

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at WWW.underconstructionlive.com

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dryhter

74 posts in 3070 days


#11 posted 07-31-2010 01:16 AM

Tony

I read your post just before leaving for work this morning, and after thinking about it today I think you took a shot a me. I enjoy a good discussion and an exchange of ideas so tell me What was wrong with the “actual construction used….”? Here in northeast Ohio this type of construction is usual, customary and reasonable in what you would expect to find in a custom built Home. Lesser Quality homes have stairways built with a nail gun and no adhesive. So, I ask What is your type of construction used?

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at WWW.underconstructionlive.com

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Tony_S

607 posts in 2549 days


#12 posted 07-31-2010 03:59 AM

dryhter

My apologies to you if you felt I was taking a shot at you, I wasn’t. Maybe I was a little too blunt with my opinion however. Ive been accused of that before when It comes to stair design and construction.
In my opinion….treads and risers should always be routed into closed stringers, and should be assembled with glue, screws and hardwood wedges….bare minimum.
Ive replaced a lot of older stairs over the years, that had ‘clicks’...’ticks’...and ‘squeaks’ that had treads and risers attached to stringers in the manner you’ve shown.
So…like I said…I’m not really crazy about the actual construction used.The “Usual, customary and reasonable” way doesn’t always mean the BEST way.

Just my 2 cents…take it for what it’s worth.

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

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John Ormsby

1283 posts in 3203 days


#13 posted 07-31-2010 04:16 AM

Using a story pole for straight stairs is very elementary. You have the riser height and tread width a given once they are determined.That gives 2 sides of a triangle. I just mark the points between riser to riser to close the triangle. This makes sure the square is marking accurately and on point. Make sure you subtract the bottom of the stringer to account for the finished tread thickness.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

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TopamaxSurvivor

17674 posts in 3142 days


#14 posted 07-31-2010 05:12 AM

Thanks, haviing never assembled a set of stairs like that, I guess I have no idea how I would do it???? I guess I expected a good technical reason I didn’t kow about :-)) The only stairs I ever built were outdoor stairs.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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TopamaxSurvivor

17674 posts in 3142 days


#15 posted 07-31-2010 08:05 AM

notottoma, then start at the bottom and go up. If you start and the top and work down, you might fall and land on your noggin:-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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