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The Stairs and the Second Floor

There is some plywood temporarily screwed down on the second floor. It's time to move it to make way for the stairs. I have started to disassemble the sturdy platform we used to nail up the rafters:

October 27. To make a stairway, I will make stringers from 2x12's. It took some time to figure out the correct rise and run for the stairway because I need a landing near the bottom of the stairs. I tried to have a simple straight stairway, but it was too steep for the township code. Once I figured out rise and run, I printed a drawing to help me visualize the stringer pattern. Then I screwed square chucks onto my framing square at the correct rise and run distances. It was easy to draw the pattern on the 2x12. This stringer is for the three steps up to the landing:

I cut it out with the circular saw. I finished the two notches with the hand saw, like I did with the bird's mouth cut on the rafters:

Now I could use this as a pattern for the next stringer:


I spent the rest of the day working on the landing, a 2x12 box screwed to the studs in the back, with 2 2x6 legs in front. 3/4 inch plywood on top screwed to the edges and to a 2x10 center support. Doesn't look like much but it is solid:

October 28. The stairs are 42" wide. A third stringer is recommended for stairs wider than 36" so I cut another stringer. I cut 1.5" off the bottom of the stringers to allow for a 1.5" thick 2x10 tread. I also had to cut 3/4" off the backs of the stringers to account for a missing riser at the top of the steps. I first screwed the stringers to a piece of 2x4. Then I screwed the 2x4 to two 2x6's which are screwed to the inside of the box. I have nailed on the bottom riser in this picture:

Simple, functional stairs:

November 10. Another rainy day to work inside the garage. I bought some clear 2x12's for the long stringers from the landing to the second floor. To insure the correct length of the stringer, I calculated where each point of the steps should be and marked the edge with equally spaced marks. The distance between the marks is the hypotenuse of a right triangle with legs equal to the rise and run of the steps. Here is a table showing the distances of each mark:

I used my square with square chucks to draw the rise and run between the marks. I chose the location of the marks to cut out a big knot in the middle of the board (see arrow):

I cut on the lines with the circular saw, finished the cuts with the hand saw as on the short stringers:

Here is a test fit:

Looks good! The bottom of the stringer sits on a 2x6 ledger board nailed to the landing:

As with the short stringers, I used the first stringer as a pattern to cut the other two:

It was easy up to this point. Then I put all three stringers up and found a few problems. The left stringer was a little high. When I adjusted the ledger board, I found the middle stringer was also too high. Then I remembered that I had to cut 1.5 inches off the bottom to account for the stair tread. I made cuts to account for the tread thickness and the slight differences in the stringers, then I toenailed the stringers to the landing and to the main beam:

The hard part is done. I cut and nailed a few risers and cut a few treads before dusk. Perhaps you can see that I have decided to overhang the tread an inch on each side of the stairs, to add the tiniest bit of elegance to a garage stairway:

November 12. I worked by lamp light to cut the remaining risers and treads. All the risers are nailed in, but I may work on smoothing the treads before I screw them down:

November 14. I routed the front and sides of all the treads with a round-over bit, screwed the treads down and rough sanded them. From the bottom:

From the back in this freaky overexposure:

From the top:

Now I can bring up all the second floor plywood.

November 17. I unscrewed all the temporary floor plywood and moved all the scrap lumber. I cut 4x8' sheets of 3/4" tongue and groove plywood as necessary and screwed it to the joists. I decided not to use construction adhesive on the joists because of the mess and the expense. Lots of screws should secure the floor. Here are the first pieces in place:

The center pieces were easy to measure and cut. A hint of a problem showed up when I tried to insert tongue in groove for the square pieces at the top of the above photo. I had to take a sledge hammer to a 2x4 "beater board" (to protect the tongue or groove) to get the wood to slide together. I had to do this with all the pieces. Some were quite stubborn. Here is the second floor at the end of the day, 12 pieces in, about 8 to go, plus some small trim pieces. I staggered the sheets like I did on the roof, to add strength:

November 18. All the difficult pieces are screwed down with a few screws each. I was able to start the tongues of the last sheets into the grooves by pulling the sledge hammer towards me instead of swinging it. Then I went downstairs and up a ladder to whack the sheets the rest of the way in with the sledge hammer:

November 22. A few hundred screws later. I snapped chalk lines so I could find the joists under the floor. Also, I cut one foot wide strips and screwed them down under the eaves. Split level view:

The second floor is done, though it will need railings.

December 23. I built a 3' high railing using 2x4's. I used the same framing techniques that I used to build the walls. This was much easier, though :-) I also added a 4x10' shelf made of 3/4" plywood screwed to 2x6's. This is to increase storage space and give access to the light storage area over the collar ties:

Here is a view from downstairs:

December 28. Railing sheathed with OSB. Cheaper and stronger than wallboard. I'll paint it later:

The second floor is ready for insulation.