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  1. #1
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    Default basement stair stringers capped?

    Any idea what this is? It's sheet metal, so isn't contributing any structural support to these basement steps.
    It's a 50+ year old house, by the way.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: basement stair stringers capped?

    Nicely done. Other than that, no.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: basement stair stringers capped?

    Sheetmetal worker builds a stairway?


  4. #4
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    Default Re: basement stair stringers capped?

    Maybe it's a template for cutting the stringers? Both stringers had one.


  5. #5
    Kevin Barre's Avatar
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    Default Re: basement stair stringers capped?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Maybe it's a template for cutting the stringers? Both stringers had one.
    I think that's exactly what it is. I've never seen one, but why else would there be the tab to flip up and tack to the bottom of the tread? It definitely doesn't look homemade.

    BTW...That looks like a hell of a riser height!


  6. #6
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    Default Re: basement stair stringers capped?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Maybe it's a template for cutting the stringers? Both stringers had one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Barre View Post
    I think that's exactly what it is. I've never seen one, but why else would there be the tab to flip up and tack to the bottom of the tread?
    I think it is a stringer template too, but that tab is not to bend and nail up to the tread (the tread would not be there when the template was being used), I think that bend out tab was there is a lateral cross brace was to be let into the stringer - it is pretty much at center of the tread, which is where you would let in a cross brace under the tread, supposing you did not use 2x but used 1x instead.

    Yeah, riser height looks like 2x12, just like the tread depth does. Was it 2x10? Still, one heck of a rise.

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  7. #7
    Kevin Barre's Avatar
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    Default Re: basement stair stringers capped?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I think it is a stringer template too, but that tab is not to bend and nail up to the tread (the tread would not be there when the template was being used), I think that bend out tab was there is a lateral cross brace was to be let into the stringer - it is pretty much at center of the tread, which is where you would let in a cross brace under the tread, supposing you did not use 2x but used 1x instead.

    Yeah, riser height looks like 2x12, just like the tread depth does. Was it 2x10? Still, one heck of a rise.
    Not that it matters much, but I have to differ. First of all, it's more than a simple template. The top edges of the metal HAVE TO bend back over the top of the stringers. Otherwise, there would be no hinge point for that tab under the tread. Therefore, they must overlay the stringers. They may be primarily a template, but that can't be all they are.
    And if I understand your comment about a cross brace correctly, why would the tab only be able to be flipped up? Up is the only direction it can move based on the hinge point which runs parallel to the tread. That would not fit a brace. (I'm assuming the cross brace you are describing would be running perpendicular to the tread.) The hinge point on the tab won't allow it to flip sideways. Unless the lateral brace is installed before the treads are installed, I can't see how you'd use the tab for a brace. And if it is installed prior to the tread installation, you'd have a gap between the bottom of the tread and the brace equal to the thickness of the metal. There would be some "give" anyway. I guess I could see the tab as a way to tack in a brace, but with only a single nail or screw installed from the top side, it would seem to be about useless. How would you nail the ends of the brace into the stringer through the sheet metal?.

    I suspect that they were an early DIY stair template/brace as might be needed for riser cuts that were really too deep for best stringer strength.

    Last edited by Kevin Barre; 09-03-2008 at 07:58 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: basement stair stringers capped?

    I agree with Kevin, there isn't much meat left at the bottom of those open stringers. I know there is a minimum amount required, but I have not been able to find a reference. I think it is 2"?


  9. #9
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    Default Re: basement stair stringers capped?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Barre View Post
    First of all, it's more than a simple template. The top edges of the metal HAVE TO bend back over the top of the stringers.
    It does, you can see it in the photo.

    Otherwise, there would be no hinge point for that tab under the tread. Therefore, they must overlay the stringers.
    They do.

    And if I understand your comment about a cross brace correctly, why would the tab only be able to be flipped up? Up is the only direction it can move based on the hinge point which runs parallel to the tread. That would not fit a brace.
    Look at the tab to the lower left ... wait, the tab has been removed ... yep, that is what I am talking about.

    Remove the tab, let in a brace (notice that I have again said "let in", not 'nail on') into the notched stringer - which is how you 'let in' a brace - and that notch aligns with that tab (now removed).

    Yes, the top of that metal does 'bend back over' the top of the stringer, and, when the tab is removed, like a knock out in an electrical panel, that 'bent back part' where the tab was is also removed.

    Looks too 'machine made' to me to be a DIY template. I suspect that they were available for DIY people and others to use when making stair stringers.

    They still have them (stair stringer templates), only they are paper now. E-Z Stair™ - full size templates for cutting stair stringers!

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  10. #10
    Kevin Barre's Avatar
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    Default Re: basement stair stringers capped?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    It does, you can see it in the photo.

    That's what I was pointing out. Looks like you agree with me on that.

    They do.

    We're in agreement here also.


    Look at the tab to the lower left ... wait, the tab has been removed ... yep, that is what I am talking about.


    Remove the tab, let in a brace (notice that I have again said "let in", not 'nail on') into the notched stringer - which is how you 'let in' a brace - and that notch aligns with that tab (now removed).

    OK...So where's the "let in" brace?

    Yes, the top of that metal does 'bend back over' the top of the stringer, and, when the tab is removed, like a knock out in an electrical panel, that 'bent back part' where the tab was is also removed.

    I disagree. I enlarged the photo. There is a lot of metal covering the top side of the stringer that would not come away with the tab.

    Looks too 'machine made' to me to be a DIY template. I suspect that they were available for DIY people and others to usIt definitely doesn't look homemade.e when making stair stringers.

    My first post said the piece "...definitely doesn't look homemade." I thought everyone understood that my DIY comment meant that they were made FOR a DIY'er, not BY one. So we agree there also.

    They still have them (stair stringer templates), only they are paper now. E-Z Stair™ - full size templates for cutting stair stringers!

    Admittedly, there's no point in hashing this out except that I'm bored and have a little time on my hands. Sometimes I'll argue for no more reason than the sport of it, but that's not real common for me. Usually there's a little more of a reason to argue. Especially if things seem illogical to me. And that's where I start having a problem with your "let in" brace theory. It's not that the tabs wouldn't sorta work for that; they would. It's just that it doesn't make sense. If we work from the premise that these are likely intended for a DIY market (and I think we both agree on that point), then the let in brace theory seems decidedly suspect. Why? The first reason is that I doubt that anyone needing a template to lay out and cut a pair of stringers would have the skillset needed to properly cut a notch to let in a brace. Nor would they have the desire to, and even having the proper tools would have been an issue roughly 50 years ago when this home was built. Circular saws are cheap today. With one, several parallel cuts, a couple whacks with a hammer, and you're done. Notch created. That wasn't the case 50 years ago. A circular saw literally cost more then than they do now. Joe homeowner didn't have one. That leaves someone to try to cut the notch with a handsaw and chisel. Not hard, exactly, but not extremely quick if you don't know what you are doing...and you have a couple dozen or so to do. Then there's the point that additional notching of the already suspect stringer would further weaken it. That's counter intuitive to the idea that this product was meant to stiffen an overly notched stringer. Based on the way that the metal also wraps the bottom of the stringer, I have to believe that it was intended as a stiffener.
    If serving a DIY market to facilitate the addition of a brace, the tab could have been turned 90 degrees to the way it is now, hinged along the vertical side (think of it as half of a joist hanger) and it would have been far easier for an amateur to work with. No cutting/chiseling out a slot, and still effective...and with the significant added bonus that it would not weaken the stringer. Nor would it lessen the ability of the metal piece to stiffen the stringer compared to how it is now. Lastly, but not of least importance, if the tab is to be removed, why in the world would it have a hole in it for a fastener?
    I could be wrong, but I remain convinced that the tabs were to be used to allow a lateral framing member (or possibly even the treads) to be fixed in place to keep the stringers the correct distance apart until the treads were permanently nailed on. This lateral piece would be nailed or screwed through the top of the tab after the tab was bent up to a point parallel with the floor. The lateral piece could be left in place permanently and would also act to brace the stairs somewhat.This would be especially useful on free-standing stairs not abutting a wall. My only question is why the "slot" left behind after the tab is bent up is wider than the tab itself.
    It appears to be about the width of a 2X. My guess is that this was intended to allow toenailing a brace to the stringers. In other words, you could tack the brace in place through the hole in the top of the tab, and then toenail it to the stringer later without trying to nail through metal.

    Anyway, I have a football game winding down that I want to pay more attention to. I could easily be wrong with my idea, but I can't buy the let-in brace one. If anyone has a different one, throw it out here.



  11. #11
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    Default Re: basement stair stringers capped?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Barre View Post
    OK...So where's the "let in" brace?
    The let in brace is not there, I was just pointing out where it 'looked like' the template was made for that option.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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