Still working on our stairway to heaven

When I left you last time, it was with pictures of a corridor-to-be on floor 3 which was looking a little sad and neglected.  For the avoidance of any tension, I should let you know it still does.  Instead of addressing that directly, this week we have installed the banister rails to the stairs.  After months of negotiating these with nothing more than hazard tape to keep us in place, we bit the bullet on Tuesday and started work.

First, fixing the bottom rail in place…

My secondary job was to use the chop saw to cut the rails and spindles to length, and Mike’s was to fit everything together into a recognisable form (which is why the thrilling action shots all show him, not me).  Below you can see our first banister and spindle combo.  This seems a good photo to mention my primary role, which was to do the maths.  At this stage, it was simple enough.  Take the width between newel posts and divide by 130mm (being the width of one spindle and one standard spacer) to calculate roughly how many spindles will fit.  Once you know this number, accurately divide the width by ‘that number minus one’ times 130mm; add 32mm (for the last spindle) and divide the remainder by two, so that the spindles are evenly spaced between the newel posts.  This calculates the horizontal spacing, which must be not more than 100mm apart, noting the heights are defined on the drawings.  Still with me?  OK, let’s move on then…

…a few spindles and a top rail later.

We used the same mathematical logic for the remaining horizontal banisters…

Then the next section…

…and now have a much better sense of the corridor paces we still need to finish – but can now work on them with rather more robust safety rails in place.

…and the next


Is this a better view?

Then we started on the sloping banisters.  With the enthusiasm of the novice, we launched straight into this and quickly discovered that my maths abilities had temporarily failed the task.  I managed to measure the sloping length and the horizontal length, and correctly calculated the number of spindles necessary, but completely forgot to increase the length of the spacers that are placed between the spindles, so our first installation looked more like close packed prison bars than a staircase.  Fortunately, this was spotted by Mike after about 5 spindles, so we were able to rescue and replace most of the materials (as you can see) and then add the banister top rail.

Now we begin to descend the stairs…


..and then the next flight of stairs

After three straight runs and two sloping runs, we realised we hadn’t done our normal check of our methods against YouTube postings, so Wednesday night found Mike and I huddled around the computer to check our technique.

Attempting an arty shot…

On Thursday and Friday we used a modified technique on the sloping rails, whereby we fitted the bottom and top rails, and then cut and fit the spindles, but for straight runs we continued to use our original methodology.

Just look at that furious concentration

By late this afternoon, we had reached the bottom of our staircase.  We still have some areas to complete, such as a couple of interesting junctions that will need creative solutions, and a banister across a long section on the floor 1 landing for which it is not clear where the three additional newel posts need to go – but otherwise we are nearly ready for me to start painting the fire-resistant paint onto all of this new woodwork.  It feels just like Christmas has nearly arrived.

And finally we reach the ground floor…


…and can look back at all our hard work!

I can’t believe I nearly forgot to show you the change to the external appearance, so below is a shot taken tonight as the light was beginning to fade.  We hope you may agree with us that this will be a better appearance than the old brilliant white facade.  This snap was taken at about 4.30pm – makes me realise that the clocks will go back this weekend and usher in the darker evenings in front of a roaring fire…

The extension in its new livery

SO who knows what we will do next?  Probably a couple of days in the cafe, and then…

2 thoughts on “Still working on our stairway to heaven

  1. Hi Carrie,
    Things seem to forging ahead at a faster pace now. You must be really plead with your progress. Glad to hear the cafe is doing well. It’s not surprising though, the food’s great and the staff aren’t bad either.
    How’s Lola ? We have just discovered that our oldest dog, Max, has doggy dementia. He gets very confused at times, bt the vets said he’s not in any discomfort, so we’ll just take it one day at a time.
    Saw some of Jane’s baking on F*b**k They looked gorgeous.
    Well I’m off to do as little as possible for the rest of the evening.
    Take care

    1. hi Kim
      Great to hear from you. Yes, progress is going well at the moment, which is good with the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst next year, so we are feeling the pressure to be open by then. Lola is fabulous. She is slowly learning not to knock the kiddies over with her excited greeting, and has almost learned to leave the food bins alone….
      Hope you are (all) enjoying a relaxed time

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