Half-log stairway stringers

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by caballoviejo, Apr 9, 2005.

  1. caballoviejo

    caballoviejo Well-Known Member

    Sep 6, 2004
    Has anyone ever made or used stairway stringers made of logs or half-logs?
    I would like to take some large, dried red cedar logs, and make them into stringers by cutting into them for the risers and treads. But since I don't need the whole log diameter for support, I'm thinking of notching in for the risers and treads and then ripping the log in half perpendicular to the notches. The result would be two perfectly matched stringers flat on one side.

    Ever seen this?
  2. quadrants2

    quadrants2 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Apr 2, 2005
    ive never seen it but wow that sounds very cool...i have some customers that would love that kind of step.

    sounds like a great idea..
    keep us updated on the work

  3. tallpines

    tallpines Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2003
    A woods in Wisconsin
    Our stringers are made from pine logs------probably about 14 in diameter------but flatten on both sides so each of the timbers is 4 inches thick.

    The steps are pine logs flattened on each side----6 inches thick........and mounted between the stringers with huge pole nails.............no notches in the stringers.

    The newal post is a 15 ft. section of a tall pine tree stripped of its bark but still has several upper branches on it, that expand upward.
    The top of the stairway is supported on one side by a 22 foot pine log that reaches to the top of the vaulted ceiling---and also supports the roof -------its the only support post in the 46 feet stretch of ceiling.

    The loft (and outside deck) have hand hewn log rails.

    All from trees havested in our woods.
  4. affenpinschermom

    affenpinschermom Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    We've done it in the past two homes. The last one we did out of red cedar. We ripped a big cedar in half, used each half as a stringer, than made the steps out of half log. We attached them with counter sunk bolts. They are very sturdy, don't squeak at all. You can smooth the steps with a planer and a sander.
  5. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    central idaho republic
    If you get a scribe tool like this Veritas Transfer scribe which these folks have a little spendier than i got mine for a few years back, it will make the process easier once you get the hang of scribing.

    Once you get the notch cut out and the tread set in, most folks want to make the mistake of using a lag bolt to tighten it down and fill the lag hole in, which is ok, but after a time your treads will dry and shrink, as will the stringer, albeit slightly, and you end up with rocking treads which are dangerous. Laggin from the bottom can help this problem but you still have to deal with the treads closest to the floor to get a tool into to tighten lags so lagging from the top of the tread is the way to go. Using a hardwood dowel to cover the lag bolt is about the onlly way to fill it in so you can pop it out and tighten the cre after a time and then replace the cap.

    I have put a couple sets in houses for folks and they do set off the house nicely.

    As far as the choice of red cedar, I personally believe you should not have a problem if the logs are big enough, my grandad buikt a barn using 20 foot cedar poles for rafters in the 1920's and it is still standing today, those are about 5 inch diameter.

    Your stringers should be twice the size for your treads if possible, and you need treads of about 11 inches wide if you use the standard 7-11 measure [7 inches up 11 inch tread] ive used 9's and 10's already for treads on 14 inch stringers, but did have the owner ok that project before hand. Your notches will not go half way through the log because you are on an angle, but a log when notched does lose some of its spine, different than a 2x12 board does when used as a stringer.

    When done right there aint nuthin purtier either. ok in my opinion n e wayz.

  6. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    Mar 20, 2003
    Vancouver, and Moberly Lake, BC, Canada

    Is this what you mean?

    We used poplar poles, 6" diameter and cut into them for supports for discarded slabs from the neighbors mill. The slab stairs are pine slabs. Sorry for the mess and these logs, poplar, didn't get sanded and varnished, yet -- soon -- there's the varnish to the left of the stair, all ready to go. Ours is very basic and rustic as you can see, not fancy. Very strong though.

    Pine Slab Stairs and Poplar Supports Leading to Second Floor, Ten Coats of Varnish.

    This works fine, didn't cost much, few nails and some varnish.

    Good Luck,