A Little Light Carpentry

We've had an ongoing conversation about how to make it easier to get in and out of the basement. Our method, since completing the foundation work, has been this rickety ladder, which adds a certain disincentive to putting away tools after a long hard day of working.

The ladder

We've had several ideas about putting in stairs from the basement to the first floor, which would be awesome, but the reality is that those stairs were not going to happen because they would require us to move the laundry elsewhere, which relied upon us having a place to put it, and this, and that, and so on.

Finally, Noel came up with an idea and it had something to do with this:

The big wooden box

Last weekend we found this slightly funky jigsaw in a garage nearby (the owners had given us leave to scour through for anything we might want). Noel spent some time fixing it up and now we have a really good jigsaw (we also have a really bad one). That turned out to be the finest tool for making a nice set of stair stringers.

Fixing the jigsaw

Indeed, in just a few hours over the last couple of afternoons, Noel built a large stair and landing item. This is a piece of furniture, if you will: a platform with a stair hanging off it. Because it basically only needed to be as tall as the old ladder, he could optimize the rise height and tread run.

Putting in stringers

It was pretty exciting seeing it go together.

The first step

The last step was not even in place when Rosie made her first exploratory run down into the basement to check things out. The dogs have steered clear of the entrance to the basement ever since the traumatic "let's see if they will go down a ramp" incident of 2006. Now they just need to get over the tall sill and it's like any other staircase.

Just before the last step

It is unbelievably comfortable to use the stairs rather than the ladder. Even the fact that you need to duck at the end to avoid the floor joists of the first floor does not lessen the wonder that is not having to climb another ladder at the end of a long day of work.

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posted by ayse on 04/06/09


How exciting to have stairs! But I'm a bit confused - I'm guessing that the "box" constructed of 2x10's (or 2x12's) is the landing at the top of the stairs - how does this solve the problem with the laundry? Maybe I need to go back through the archives and look at the floorplan! In any event, the ladder set-up looked treacherous! Oh, and from personal experience, maybe consider some foam padding or something on the floor joist at the end of the stairs so you don't hit your head. I once clocked myself good coming down a set of stairs like that - stairs that I had been down many times before - but it was dark and I was in a hurry!

Nice looking stringers, Noel. And I know stringers :-)

Bryan, The box didn't really solve the problem of the landing, but making a set of stairs that is not built in but is like a large step-stool did, because we didn't cut a hole in the floor above the entrance to the basement (which is right under the dryer).

And padding on the floor joists and so forth right overhead at the top is a good idea. Also, some sort of treatment of the exposed nail ends from the floor upstairs. :)

Noel is chock full of awesome.

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