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.
It will now be in order to describe a pitch-board and the manner of using it; no stairs can be properly built without the use of a pitch-board in some form or other. Properly speaking, a pitch-board, as already explained, is a thin piece of material, generally pine or sheet metal, and is a right-angled triangle in outline. One of its sides is made the exact height of the rise; at right angles with this line of rise, the exact width of the tread is measured off; and the material is cut along the hypotenuse of the right-angled triangle thus formed.
The simplest method of making a pitch-board is by using a steel square, which, of course, every carpenter in this country is supposed to possess. By means of this invaluable tool, also, a stair string can be laid out, the square being applied to the string as shown in Fig. 13.
In the instance here illustrated, the square shows 10 inches for the tread and 7 inches for the rise.
To cut a pitch-board, after the tread and rise have been determined, proceed as follows: Take a piece of thin, clear material, and lay the square on the face edge, as shown in Fig. 13. Mark out the pitch-board with a sharp knife; then cut out with a fine saw, and dress to the knife marks; nail a piece on the largest edge of the pitch-board for a gauge or fence, and it is ready for use.
Fig. 14 shows the pitch-board pure and simple; it may be half an inch thick, or, if of hardwood, may be from a quarter-inch to a half-inch thick.
Fig. 15 shows the pitch-board after the gauge or fence is nailed on.
This fence or gauge may be about 1 1/2 inches wide and from 3/8 to 3/4 inch thick.
Fig. 16 shows a sectional view of the pitch-board with a fence nailed on.
In Fig. 17 the manner of applying the pitch-board is shown.
R R R is the string, and the line A shows the jointed or straight edge of the string. The pitch-board P is shown in position, the line 8 1/3 represents the step or tread, and the line 7f shows the line of the riser. These two lines are of course at right angles, or, as the carpenter would say, they are square.
This string shows four complete cuts, and part of a fifth cut for treads, and five complete cuts for risers. The bottom of the string at W is cut off at the line of the floor on which it is supposed to rest. The line C is the line of the first riser. This riser is cut lower than any of the other risers, because, as above explained, the thickness of the first tread is always taken off it; thus, if the tread is 1 1/2 inches thick, the riser in this case would only require to be 6 1/4 inches wide, as 7 3/4 - 1 1/2 = 6 1/4
Fig. 13. Steel Square Used as a Pitch-Board in Laving Out Stair String.
Fig. 16. Showing How a Pitch-Board is Made.
Fig. 15 shows gauge fastened to long edge; Fig. 16 is a sectional elevation of completed board.
The string must be cut so that the line at W will be only 6 1/4 inches from the line at 8 1/3, and these two lines must be parallel. The first riser and tread having been satisfactorily dealt with, the rest can easily be marked off by simply sliding the pitch-board along the line A until the outer end of the line 8 1/3 on the pitch-board strikes the outer end of the line 7 3/4 on the string, when another tread and another riser are to be marked off. The remaining risers and treads are marked off in the same manner.
Sometimes there may be a little difficulty at the top of the stairs, in fitting the string to the trimmer or joists; but, as it is necessary first to become expert with the pitch-board, the method of trimming the well or attaching the cylinder to the string will be left until other matters have been discussed.
Fig. 18 shows a portion of the stairs in position. S and S show the strings, which in this case are cut square; that is, the part of the string to which the riser is joined is cut square across, and the butt or end wood of the riser is seen. In this case, also, the end of the tread is cut square off, and flush with the string and riser. Both strings in this instance are open strings. Usually, in stairs of this kind, the ends of the treads are rounded off similarly to the front of the tread, and the ends project over the strings the same distance that the front edge projects over the riser. If a moulding or cove is used under the nosing in front, it should be carried round on the string to the back edge of the tread and cut off square, for in this case the back edge of the tread will be square. A riser is shown at R, and it will be noticed that it runs down behind the tread on the back edge, and is either nailed or screwed to the tread. This is the American practice, though in England the riser usually rests on the tread, which extends clear back to string as shown at the top tread in the diagram. It is much better, however, for general purposes, that the riser go behind the tread, as this tends to make the whole stairway much stronger.
Fig. 17. Showing Method of Using Pitch-Board.
Housed strings are those which carry the treads and risers without their ends being seen. In an open stair, the wall string only is housed, the other ends of the treads and risers resting on a cut string, and the nosings and mouldings being returned as before described.
The manner of housing is shown in Fig. 19, in which the treads T T and the risers R R are shown in position, secured in place respectively by means of wedges X X and F F, which should be well covered with good glue before insertion in the groove. The housings are generally made from 1/2 to 5/8 inch deep, space for the wedge being cut to suit.