The Learning Curve of Building Stairs

The project this weekend? Building four custom staircases.

I’ve never made my own stair stringers. I’ve bypassed it in the past by purchasing pre-made ones. However that route has limited size options.

Previously made stairs using store bought stock stringers.

It made more sense to custom build my own—four identical ones to be exact—than try to force the set design to fit the available stock sizes. I really needed the stairs to fit on a platform and leave enough room for the actors.

Luckily, there’s some great websites that help with the math but that still leaves the actual execution. 

The Internet helping kids cheat on their math homework since 2001.

Like almost everything in life, there’s a serious learning curve the first time through. The first three times I laid out the stringer were failures because of inaccurate measurements or not being level.

The blue, black, and pink lines represent my failed attempts.
This didn’t seem like something I could fudge. On Saturday after two hours of all I had to show were eight stringers but no treads. Definitely nothing you could travel up.

Cutting my loses and sleeping on the problem proved beneficial as on Sunday I was able to get a functional set of stairs in place.

Benson taking our prototype stairs for a test drive.
The remaining three should come together quickly on Tuesday now that I understand what I’m doing…I think.

View from the top.

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