Rough-Framed Stairs - 02

Rough-Framed Stairs - 02


This week’s focus will be on TOOLS.

Who doesn’t like tools?

So here is a brief list of tools you’ll need to have to make the job a success.  Some of the tools are necessary and some just make the job so much easier.  

Tool List:


Nail bags 

 - hammer

 - tape measure

 - chalk line

 - speed square

 - pencils

 - loose nails

 - calculator (ruggedized)

Electrical Extension Cords

Circular or Worm-Drive saw

A cutting surface (sawhorses)

Framing square

Square nuts

Sharp pointed pencil

Black sharpie marker

4’ to 8’ level and/or rotary laser

Calculator (scientific)

Laminated detail drawing

So lets talk about these things.

Plans.  Pretty obvious.  The home has been “designed” so we need to try and follow it.  The plans should provide accurate locations for the stairwell opening and a good count for the risers and treads.  Typically the riser and tread lengths are called out on the section page, but the riser length given is often not accurate enough to use from the plan data alone.

Nail Bags:  You should have these basic hand tools with you at all times.

Extension Cords:  Route power to your lumber pile.  It’s most efficient to cut at the lumber drop location and move completed components into the home.  Some people like to cut their components right at the installation location.  I don’t prefer this because it creates additional mess and waste inside the structure, but there may be times when it will be more efficient to do it this way.  Shooter's preference.

Saw.  I prefer a circular saw, sidewinder type, to that of the worm-drive variety for stair building.  They are lighter and are very easy to manipulate for plunge cutting.  The worm-drive saw is awesome for raw power and many other framing uses.  I hold nothing but respect for it.  But for stairs, the lighter and more nimble saw works best for me.

Saw Horses.  Make your own.  Here are some simple plans to a beefy set of Saw Stallions.

Framing Square.  A 90 degree making tool is required.  Pretty much any framing square will do.  The very best one out there is found at: 

Square Gauges (Nuts).  Not really required but they make things line-up quickly.

Sharp pencil.  You will need to scribe very accurate and dark THIN lines onto your material.  A fat pencil or marker will cause incremental creep to enter into the overall length of your stringer if not mitigated. 

Sharpie Marker.  Label everything in neat large printed font (no cursive).  You may need to read something later that you wrote on a board, and it’s nice to be able to do that from several feet away.

Level.  Ensure that everything is Plumb - Level - Square.  Also, when measuring the Floor to Floor (F2F) height, never assume that the floor is level.  Use a level or a rotary laser (best option) to measure the vertical hight from were the stairs start at the bottom and NOT directly below where the stairs fasten to the upper floor.  This becomes very evident when building deck stairs.  The ground almost always slopes.  Stabila makes excellent levels.

Calculator.  In your bags you should have a construction calculator.  If you own a “smart” phone there is a really great app that you might find useful.  Find it here —>   

or you can program your own scientific calculator for extreme mathematical usage on your projects.  More on that in another blog.

Laminated Drawing.  Use CAD to precisely draw everything to it’s actual material dimensions.  Make a cut sheet / shop drawing.

For the installation you’ll also need:

Air Compressor.  Pretty much anything descent will do.  I’m currently a Rol-Air fan.

Air Hoses.  I really like Flexeel.

Nail gun (Pneumatic Fastener). Hitachi or Max.

WallMaxx Tools of the Trade-04

Nails.  Make sure you know your gun and get nails made for it.  Specifically the degree angle of the nails and how they are colated (paper, plastic or wire)

Construction Adhesive.  Good all-weather glue in the large tubes.

There are more or less tools you might need, but these are the ones that I use.

Check back next week when we discuss terminology of the parts and procedures.

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