Monday, 8 October 2012

A few steps closer

As the old adage goes, 'red sky at night, shepherds delight.' The weather has certainly turned the corner. With that I've been able to move outside and get on with the finishing touches to the outside of the cottage. One of those is the stairs and balustrading on the deck.

My dealings to date with stairs have been climbing and descending them and I think once falling asleep up some, but I digress. So with my carpenters square in hand and a pair of old stair gauges that I must have bought 4 or 5 years ago ( perhaps I had a vision of a future staircase? ) I set to work on the Macrocarpa planks Dad had bought up for the job.

Working on a rough angle of 40 degrees I found I needed 4 steps or goings. Then, settling on the tread width I was able to calculate the exact riser height and thereby where the stringer would fall. The gauges were then placed on the square at the tread width and riser height and the stringer marked out.

So with trusty circular saw in hand I cut the first stringer and checked it for fit. Having now managed to use trigonometry successfully for the first time since high school, I used the first stringer as a template to mark out and cut the other two. Three treads were then cut and milled to size ( the fourth tread being the the decking boards ). The whole thing was then glued and screwed together with heavy 100mm galvanised bugle head screws and given a good coat of primer. It will be the same colour as the house.

Before setting the stair in place, I fitted two short galvanised stirrups with 90x 90 cypress posts to the underside of the bottom tread and stringer. With these fitted,  I lifted the stair into place, the stirrups seating themselves into holes I had pre-dug and half filled with a wet mix of concrete. Levelled and screwed to the deck bearer, the remainder of the holes were filled with concrete and the stair braced in place to set. Not bad for a first time, I thought. ( Did I pass Wayne?? )

Sterling M.A., Circa 1800

Kyneton, Circa

The rest of the deck posts will be fitted tomorrow, then the rails, balusters etc. I took a cue for pegging the posts from seeing Pete Galbert's Chestnut newel post in his 18th century Massachusetts house. Hopefully before to long I'll be enjoying a relaxing drink on the deck instead of building it!


  1. You have done well. I particularly like the post fixing detail.

  2. Thanks Wayne, I actually enjoyed making them. The newel post idea has been floating around in my head since I saw it in Pete's house. It pulled the post down tight as a drum.