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September 9, 2012
Stairs: last newels

Russell uses a multi-tool to cut notches into a stair newel

While we entertained guests at our mountain home the weekend of September 6-9, we also continued work on our stair construction. We are currently installing newels, the upright posts that will ultimately support the stair rails.

With seven of the nine newels installed, we still had two left. Unfortunately, they were the hardest two. Because they would go on the two landings, they each had to be positioned in line with the flight below and the flight above. This would involve notching both the newels and the stair treads.

During our last work trip, Russell had started notching the treads. He continued that work this trip, using the multi-tool saw blade. This cut through the oak and Douglas fir treads neatly and precisely.

The oscillating multi-tool enabled us to make very clean and precise cuts in the treads

The second landing treads, before and after notching (Look closely at the photo on the left, and you can see the marked lines where the cuts need to be made)

It took long enough for Russell to measure and notch the treads. It took even longer to measure and notch the newels. The newels needed to be positioned 3/4 out from two sets of treads set 90 from each other. Russell measured, re-measured, and had Gail double-check his measurements. After his bad week during our last trip, he did not want to make any more mistakes.

It took three separate cuts using both a circular saw and a multi-tool to notch each of the middle newels. We had to re-cut and sand the notches several times to make them fit into the notches we had made in the treads. Even so, Gail ultimately went through and filled any gaps with wood glue and sawdust.

The middle newels each required three separate cuts

A middle newel after notching

The notched newel had to fit precisely into the notched treads (Note also that we had to cut a bevel into the bottom of the newel so it would sit on the tread without overlapping)

We have been told that in order to pass a final building inspection, all we need to have is the newels and a temporary railing such as chicken wire. So we also strung plastic mesh across every gap where a railing will ultimately go.

Gail strung plastic mesh across the stair newels
To eliminate gaps, we also used wiring stables to fasten the mesh directly to the treads

The stairs are finished! At least, finished enough to pass a final inspection. Gail was eager to spend one more day here, departing Monday instead of Sunday, so that we could get a Monday morning inspection. Russell needed to get back to work, however, so we departed Sunday morning as planned.

We plan to make another trip back up here as soon as we can schedule another inspection. A *final* inspection!

The stairs, before and after plastic mesh all of the newels have been installed!


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