Stairs, Dec 9, 2013

Hey everyone, fans and students alike!!!!

I am terribly sorry not to have kept the blog up and running for the past few weeks – I have many excuses, but they are not that exciting and so I won’t bore you with them.  

Remember the contest for the iPad air – don’t forget to submit your photos of projects and you may win the grand prize.  Check out the:   facebook page for details or ask your teacher in class.  Participation will be fun (I am certainly curious as to what you may be up to) and may be rewarding (someone will win!!).

Stairs is drawing to a close in the next few days.  Remember that the projects we are working on are the cumulation of your year at CVCEC – you can look at the plusses and the minuses of what you have accomplished and make your own critique as to how you have implemented your learning for the math, structure, finishing and general comprehension.  My comments are designed to help you in all of this.  The project is “bigger” than the module – it will help you pass the final exam if you understand what you are going – and it will show you how far you have come in the past year.  Just look back and ask yourself : “could I have even attempted this one year ago?”  

These are important questions to ask oneself, because they help place our learning in the context of our lives.  Even though there is a general desire to get out of Ormstown and get to work making money and accumulating hours towards the Journeyman certification, the steps we embarked upon one year ago help make those goals attainable.

OK, enough of the sermon!

The things we need to know to pass the exam – that’s the important stuff. right? 


– rise and run calculations and verification by code and “rules of thumb”

– stairwell opening calculations

– the factors that determine the height of the first and last risers of a flight of stairs, be it a single or multi-flight stringer

– the impact of a landing on our calculations, both for length and thickness

– the line length of a stringer

– the importance of accurate drawing that reflects the scenario presented

– erasing lines not part of the stringer so as not to confuse the evaluator (that’s me – and we all know how easily I can be confused, right?)

– figuring out what we need to have clarification of before the exam

Anything else?  Please let me know so I can help you.  You’ve got five classes left!!

A few photos from the presentation of the other day (this is the creation of the pedestal):

“Turning” (get it?) this:



into this:


And finally this:



Sometimes it is a lot of fun being a carpenter/woodworker!!

I’ll put up more photos of this table in the next few days/weeks…..


About jhcarpentry

I am a teacher in the Construction Carpentry Program at the Chateauguay Valley Career Education Centre (CVCEC) for the New Frontiers School board. This blog is a way for me to connect with my students.
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2 Responses to Stairs, Dec 9, 2013

  1. vh says:

    After thinking about the balusters on the ride home, I have a feeling that the problem might be an aesthetic one.

    If you install one baluster on each stair in line with the front edge of the run (the run, not the nosing), you then have to find a unit of spacing that will allow the rest of the balusters to remain the same distance not only from each other, but also from the newel post.

    The run on my stairs is 327mm. I install 25mm wide balusters at the front of each run. Now I have 277mm between each baluster. Way too big. If I add one more in between I’ll have gaps of 126mm. Still too big. One more baluster finally brings me to a total of four per stair, and gaps of roughly 76mm. If I start measuring this out, it will be code. But when I arrive at the landing or the floor — oops, the newel post is wider than my balusters and my last gap is smaller than all the rest. Now it looks funny. Is that the problem?

    Incedently, the formula I used to calculate those spacings was:

    (run – 2x – ax) / a + 1

    where x is the width of my balusters, and a is the number of balusters I add between the ones on the front edge of each stair. But that information may be irrelevant since I’ve run into that newel post problem.

    • jhcarpentry says:


      I knew it would be you who would ponder and propose. You are on the right track – you have to account for the dimension of the spindle and the width of the stair…..there is another component that will result in brain-farting for many students (I include myself in this until it made sense to me…) which we will discuss in class. You are right to comment on the newel post – it does make for a problem that we have to think about….hmmmmm.
      see you in class and we will consider and experiment.


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