Got Pine?


It’s rather amazing this felt solid under my feet. It clearly wasn’t.

The cats have lost their favorite hiding place. I finally got off my duff and removed the three bottom stairs today, in preparation for rebuilding them with a landing and a turn.

Clearly, the above is cobbled together, with what appears to be the original stringer serving the same purpose here, though not at all properly. The risers, of course, should be flush with the L-shapes in the stringer. If you look closely, you can see the chiseled curve on the stringer that matches the curve of the second riser…and that the full sweep of the curve on the tread and riser have been cut off (dammit) to fit into the wall that formerly blocked in the staircase.

I’m fairly certain I’ll be able to reuse that stringer, attaching it to the rebuilt support structure for the landing, after using it to lay out a matching stringer for the other side.

With a wrecking bar, I was able to pull that riser away from its rather precarious after-market joist enough to get a metal-cutting blade in between, and slice the nails.

After. The bottom three stairs were held to the rest of the structure with but three nails and good wishes.

The bottom three stairs were held to the rest of the structure with but three nails and good wishes.

I was both pleasantly surprised that a) it was so easy to then remove the bottom stairs and b) that they hadn’t fallen down in the last six months with me atop them.

After sweeping out the dust and a bit of plaster from under, I crawled in for a closer look at the construction that has remained – as far as I can deduce – undisturbed since it was built in 1906.

Very neat job indeed.

A very workmanlike job indeed.

Now, I’m on the hunt for two planks of 120-year-old (or so) 1″ thick tight-grained yellow pine, at least 13″ wide and 60″ long, to make two bottom treads (my curses on whomever cut the original ones). I also need 13 or so 7/8″-thick x 3-1/4″-wide x 40″ long (or wider, that I can cut down) old-growth yellow-pine floorboards for the landing treads – though I can, if I must, scavenge those from the third floor.

I’ve already tried the architectural salvage yards within 125 miles of me,; no joy. (Apparently, not too many folks bother pulling stair treads and floorboards from tear-downs.) If you know of a source, please do let me know.

But I guess there’s no hurry. I need to knock together the joists etc. that will support the landing, and get to work on the spindles and railing.

I hope I remember to use only the back stairs for now; I really should put up some “Caution” tape at the top. I also hope I can find the cats’ new hiding place; it’s time for a visit to the vet.

This is sort of what it will look like when I’m done. You’ll have to imagine the landing, banister, spindles, newel posts, repaired plaster, trim work…

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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14 Responses to Got Pine?

  1. Jerry says:

    Could indeed be a Rude Awakening if you use these stairs in the wee hours and forget there is no landing. Stay safe ! !

  2. Megan –

    Try this:

    Mountain Lumber Company

  3. Brian Clites says:

    Do you have any extra doors in the house? That’s the first place I’d look to match the pine. The second place would be the attic…

  4. BLZeebub says:

    Rock on, lady! Love what you’re doing with the place.

  5. Patrick says:

    Would the basement steps match? (and I’m assuming you wouldn’t mind replacing some of the basement steps with newer wood)

    Also, that area under the stairs would make a nice little storage space. Ever thought of adding access to it from what I think is a closet to the right?

    • fitz says:

      The basement steps are too short – I need 5′ in length for each of the two steps. I’m sure I’ll find it somewhere, though.

      I don’t want to add storage from the back of the closet; too hard to get to. But I might from the side.

  6. That’s one heck of a project, but the finished result will be well worth it. Love the stained glass above, BTW. Those older houses have character that just can’t be duplicated these days.

  7. John Wolf says:

    I checked, the closest I can come is 12″ wide and probably white pine, but it is pre 1860 and fairly hard.

  8. John Kunstman says:

    I might be able to assist, down here in Tennessee we have a lot of very old barns with big wide timbers. Many of which the owners want taken down. I will ask around and see what I can find.

    • fitz says:

      That would be swell! But please don’t put in a lot of effort – I’ve found a couple places online where I can buy it…if only the vet bills weren’t so high at the moment…

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