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Building Stairs Tutorial
Straight Steel Stair Construction
This 70-minute video goes through the steps of constructing straight steel stairs. It’s probably invaluable if you’re training fabricators in your shop to fabricate steel stairs or if you want a review for yourself. Chris Maitner, owner of Christopher Metal Fabricating, Grand Rapids, MI, leads the demonstration as he describes how to fabricate a steel pan stairway with concrete fill for a large commercial project.
The video is broken down into six segments: field measuring, reviewing blueprints, revising blueprints for shop fabrication, tools of the trade, layout and fabrication, and stair assembly. You could literally watch the video in segments and fabricate a steel stair as you go.
According to Maitner, his shop does a fair amount of steel stair construction. “Our shop does about 50-50 commercial to residential work,” Maitner says. In the video, Maitner’s confidence, the kind that only comes from years of practice, illustrates his experience with this lucrative aspect of ornamental and miscellaneous metal fabrication.
The video opens with Maitner and NOMMA Education Foundation (NEF) trustee Lloyd Hughes standing in the stairwell of a completed stairway, which goes up three stories (seven flights). Maitner’s shop has already completed this portion of the building’s stairwells. So Maitner and Hughes head over to another portion of the building where Maitner takes detailed measurements in a bear opening.
Three sides of the opening that Maitner measures are masonry block. Maitner says that makes them pretty straight. But one side is pre-cast wall panel and very uneven. Maitner says that means he has to build to the narrowest point and then allow for adjustments in the sliding clips of the header channels, which actually carry the stair.
The video covers a lot of details, including how to adjust for uneven walls. Maitner goes over everything from a review of Pythagorean theorem to the different codes fabricators must comply with when building commercial stairs, like the stair’s rise and run and tread thickness, any pitch requirement for water runoff on the treads, etc. So it’s probably best to watch with a pen and paper in front of you.
Viewers get lots of important tips from Maitner. Some may seem common sense. But the gleam in Maitner’s eye tells you that he’s learned from experience what happens when fabricators fail to consider the minutest details in measuring. For example, Maitner says to be sure that the surface you are measuring against is the finished surface. Any additions to the surface, like wood, will affect the height from surface to surface, which is necessary to determine riser heights. And Maitner says if you don’t get the rise and run calculation right—the angle of the height of a tread from nose to nose to its tread length—you might as well throw the stair out.
After completing his field measuring, Maitner takes his measurements back to the shop to develop the shop drawings. First Maitner goes over the different blueprint drawings associated with this stair. Then he compares his field measurements with the building’s blueprints to determine the actual layout of the stair, noting the variables that come in to play when comparing a building’s actual measurements with what a contractor’s drawing may stipulate.
Maitner touches on the benefits of using CAD, “If your shop has a computer and someone who can use it.” However, Maitner clarifies that shops can still do straight steel construction without CAD.
Maitner lists the different tools you’ll need in laying out the rail: a framing square, alignment bar, combination square, large and small bevel square, straight edge, measuring tape, silver led layout pencils, etc. Then Maitner reviews the different elements that make up a stair, the stringer and its structural supports, clip angles, carrier bars, back wall channels. He points out each element on a mock up three-step steel stair.
The longest portion of the video focuses on layout and fabrication, as Maitner measures, marks, cuts, and welds the pieces of the steel stair together according to the marks on his layout. Finally, Maitner assembles a mini, three-step steel stair to illustrate how all the components come together.
To purchase a stair manufacturing instructional video DVD call us at 800-285-3056