Some Things Old, Some Things New

Not the right newel post, and the treads were lopped off at both ends years ago, so I have to make new ones. But this gives the general idea.

Not the right newel post at all, and the treads were lopped off at both ends years ago, so I have to make new ones. But this gives the general idea. Also need a half-newel at the back corner (maybe) and a full one at the right front corner. But I might make a built-in bookcase to cover the bottom front, tall enough to serve as the balustrade on the landing…which would preclude a newel post at the front corner and the half newel. I dunno yet. And there’s still those spindles to turn…

This weekend, after dithering a bit about how to go about it, I decided to cobble together the staircase landing from the original 2x8s (really that size) and some new materials…because much of the old was missing, thanks to the remuddling of the stairs more than a half-century ago.

Why not start with all new and rebuild it properly? Because I’m cheap, I guess. One of the three remaining original pieces is tenoned on the end to perfectly fit a mortise in the brick for solid support. To replicate that, I’d have to use 8/4 for construction…and the only 8/4 I have is mahogany. No way.

But it did cause some trouble; one of those piece was a little twisted, so I had to get creative underneath to support the landing. My apologies to any stairbuilders reading this; I know it’s not “right” – but it’s certainly solid. (I put a piece of 3/4″ ply over the joists –if that’s what they’re called – and had some neighbors over; we all jumped on it simultaneously and it didn’t move.)

But now I’m at a standstill. The flooring for the landing is going to be scavenged from my upcoming bathroom remodel (I’ll be putting in tile there), assuming what’s under the linoleum is in OK shape. If not, I’ll raid the third floor. And I have to find two pieces of  7/8″-thick 100-year-old pine pine for the two bottom treads that’s long enough and wide enough for two bowed entry steps that curve on both ends.

For now, I think I’ll put 3/4 ply over the joists, and cut some to what I think are the right tread shapes, to see how it looks. And use those temporary bits until I get the bathroom done. Could be awhile.

 

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About fitz

Editor & content director for Popular Woodworking, ABD PhD focused on early modern drama, freelance content and copy editor/writer, ailurophile
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14 Responses to Some Things Old, Some Things New

  1. Dave Reedy says:

    Unrelated but I thought I’d mention it. We were in Waynesville, Oh. last week. A new shop has opened featuring salvage from old houses. They have hundreds, no probably thousands of door knobs, locks, hinges and so forth. You need casters, they have bins full. Some spindles. Old cabinets that look like they’re from the early 1900’s.

  2. “Closer to fine” As a retired health inspector I noticed a potential cross contamination issue. With the water hoses hanging in the sink used water can be sucked backward into the (clean) water in the pipes. This happens when there is loss of pressure upsteam; (water main break etc). Suggest antibackflow valves that screw onto those hose bibs. These provide an air gap that keeps used water/sewage out of your drinking water. Hardware/ big box store. Note even if sink drains to air the hose can suck what in sink; example stone bath; cleaners in a bucket.

    • fitz says:

      Huh – I did not know that. Maybe I’ll just remove those hoses, and put the cold one back on when sharpening. They were on there when I moved in, and I’ve simply not removed them.

  3. Ann says:

    I had to smile when I read this part
    ” Also need a half-newel at the back corner (maybe)”

    How convenient, seeing as how you have not one but two half newels, grin. Have you liberated them yet? And as someone else commented earlier, what would have possessed someone to cut one in half.

    Maybe that IS the clue. What if instead of cutting the newel to install it in the basement, they simply carried already existing half newels downstairs? Could the original have had 2 half ones?

    • fitz says:

      I don’t think so? The evidence on the treads (cutouts where they would have dropped down) is that there were two full ones at the original landing corners, one large one (possibly the one in the basement – it’s remarkably tall) at the front left corner and another of the same size at the right front. But who knows? I’ve searched high and low for pictures (still searching), but so far, no joy.

      And no, I’ve not yet liberated them – gave it a try yesterday, but they are too well secured for easy removal. I need to get a few worklights down there and take a closer look.

  4. JC says:

    Regarding the spindles, I found a cache of ‘leftovers’ at my local supplier. I don’t know how many you need but if you found enough of the right style you might only have to make up the difference. I paid a buck a piece for well turned red oak. They now grace my front porch railings. Didn’t have enough to complete the rise to the porch so I substituted some pierced panels that mimic the shape of the spindles. Actually worked out quite well.

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