Three Little Stringers

We had a slow start on the deck work today because we had a large batch of pear cider -- fermenting away in the basement since October -- to bottle up. Our plan was to get to work and make the five stringers for the lower stair today, though you can probably tell by the post title that that didn't exactly happen.

Cutting the stringers

We started the process by making a plywood template for the stringers. This turns out to save us a lot of wood and pain and suffering, and it worked again in this case because we had to make a second template almost right away. Math. Harder than it looks, apparently.

Putting the kicker in place

We measured with the help of the laser level to get the kicker positioned on the concrete footing. The footing was about as square to the deck as we could make it, but that was not as square as the stairs will want to be.

Nailing the kicker in place

Then I played the role of the clamp while Noel predrilled the holes and nailed the board down with concrete nails.

Marking out a stringer with the template

The nice thing about the template is that you don't need to worry about cutting each stringer correctly once you've made it: just trace and you're done.

Splitting wood

The thing we did need to worry about was splitting wood. Redwood is not the strongest wood out there, and this kind of splitting is just how stringers tend to fail when they are being cut. With a little work and some long screws, this is repairable, but not ideal.

Two stringers in place

There was some last-minute fussing with fit, but soon enough we had two stringers in place. As it happened, we had only enough wood for four stringers, and one of those is the one that broke. I made an emergency trip to Home Depot, but they don't carry redwood in sizes over 2x6 (and even if they had I was a bit doubtful that it would be the quality we get from Economy Lumber).

Temporary stair treads

So we stopped with three and threw some boards over the stringers to make temporary steps, and walked up and down a few times just because we could.

posted by ayse on 05/13/12

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