This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
In order to afford the student a clear idea of what is meant by laying out on the floor, an example of a simple close-string stair is given. In Fig. 33, the letter F shows the floor line; L is the landing or platform; and W is the wall line. The stair is to be 4 feet wide over strings; the landing, 4 feet wide; the height from floor to landing, 7 feet; and the run from start to finish of the stair, 8 feet 8 1/2 inches.
The first thing to determine is the dimensions of the treads and risers. The wider the tread, the lower must be the riser, as stated before. No definite dimensions for treads and risers can be given, as the steps have to be arranged to meet the various difficulties that may occur in the working out of the construction; but a common rule is this: Make the width of the tread, plus twice the rise, equal to 24 inches. This will give, for an 8-inch tread, an 8-inch rise; for a 9-inch tread, a 7 1/2-inch rise; for a 10-inch tread, a 7-inch rise, and so on. Having the height (7 feet) and the run of the flight (8 feet 8 1/2 inches), take a rod about one inch square, and mark on it the height from floor to landing (7 feet), and the length of the going or run of the flight (8 feet 8 1/2 inches). Consider now what are the dimensions which can be given to the treads and risers, remembering that there will be one more riser than the number of treads. Mark off on the rod the landing, forming the last tread. If twelve risers are desired, divide the height (namely, 7 feet) by 12, which gives 7 inches as the rise of each step. Then divide the run (namely, 8 feet 8 1/2 inches) by 11, and the width of the tread is found to be 9 1/2 inches.
Great care must be taken in making the pitch-board for marking off the treads and risers on the string. The pitch-board may be made from dry hardwood about 3/8 inch thick. One end and one side must be perfectly square to each other; on the one, the width of the tread is set off, and on the other the height of the riser. Connect the two points thus obtained, and saw the wood on this line. The addition of a gauge-piece along the longest side of the triangular piece, completes the pitch-board, as was illustrated in Fig. 15.
The length of the wall and outer string can be ascertained by means of the pitch-board. One side and one edge of the wall string must be squared; but the outer string must be trued all round. On the strings, mark the positions of the treads and risers by using the pitch-board as already explained (Fig. 17). Strings are usually made 11 inches wide, but may be made 12 1/2 inches wide if necessary for strength.
After the widths of risers and treads have been determined, and the string is ready to lay out, apply the pitch-board, marking the first riser about 9 inches from the end; and number each step in succession. The thickness of the treads and risers can be drawn by using thin strips of hardwood made the width of the housing required. Now allow for the wedges under the treads and behind the risers, and thus find the exact width of the housing, which should be about 5/8 inch deep; the treads and risers will require to be made l 1/4 inches longer than shown in the plan, to allow for the housings at both ends.
Fig. 33. Method of Laying Out a Simple, Close-String Stair.
Before putting the stair together, be sure that it can be taken into the house and put in position without trouble. If for any reason it cannot be put in after being put together, then the parts must be assembled, wedged, and glued up at the spot.
It is essential in laying out a plan on the floor, that the exact positions of the first and last risers be ascertained, and the height of the story wherein the stair is to be placed. Then draw a plan of the hall or other room in which the stairs will be located, including surrounding or adjoining parts of the room to the extent of ten or twelve feet from the place assigned for the foot of the stair. All the doorways, branching passages, or windows which can possibly come in contact with the stair from its commencement to its expected termination or landing, must be noted. The sketch must necessarily include a portion of the entrance hall in one part, and of the lobby or landing in another, and on it must be laid out all the lines of the stair from the first to the last riser.
The height of the story must next be exactly determined and taken on the rod; then, assuming a height of risers suitable to the place, a trial is made by division in the manner previously explained, to ascertain how often this height is contained in the height of the story. The quotient, if there is no remainder, will be the number of risers required. Should there be a remainder on the first division, the operation is reversed, the number of inches in the height being made the dividend and the before-found quotient the divisor; and the operation of reduction by division is carried on till the height of the riser is obtained to the thirty-second part of an inch. These heights are then set off as exactly as possible on the story rod, as shown in Fig. 33.
The next operation is to show the risers on the sketch. This the workman will find no trouble in arranging, and no arbitrary rule can be given.
A part of the foregoing may appear to be repetition; but it is not, for it must be remembered that scarcely any two flights of stairs are alike in run, rise, or pitch, and any departure in any one dimension from these conditions leads to a new series of dimensions that must be dealt with independently. The principle laid down, however, applies to all straight flights of stairs; and the student who has followed closely and retained the pith of what has been said, will, if he has a fair knowledge of the use of tools, be fairly equipped for laying out and constructing a plain, straight stair with a straight rail.