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Drawers in stairs question.

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Togalosh

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Hello,

I've been asked to look in to installing drawers into a staircase in a victorian terrace house- the concept is that the riser will become the drawer front which seems simple enough but I have never seen how old staircases are put together so I need advice please.

The designs online are American & built from scratch.

Are old stairs made the same as modern designs where the load is taken by the sides & the risers are none supporting? I was thinking that I'd leave a stretcher (?) along the underside of each step (which would also be below the drawer of the drawewr above) to help support the old wood.

As ever your ideas/knowlegde would be most welcome.
 

Teckel

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They are made the very same way. Sometimes an extra string was used in the middle because the string on the in side was a cut string aswell to allow for a continuous skirting from ground floor to top floor.
Is there paneling underside of the stairs? Can you get to see under it ?
You will also have glue blocks to remove which help to stop creaking between riser and thread.
 

AndyT

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Interesting idea but not one I would recommend. Having lived in several old houses where stairs were not in the greatest shape, I see it like this. The normal construction is that there is a broad, sloping plank on either side (the string) with one side fixed to the wall. Into this are cut horizontal housings (shallow grooves) which hold the ends of the treads. Vertical housings take the ends of the risers. Treads and risers are held into the housings by long slender wedges.
In theory, the treads should be stiff enough to be self-supporting if the risers were not there (making an open-tread staircase - not something found in ordinary Victorian houses). However, in practice, the riser works as a deep but thin beam, giving considerable extra stiffness to the treads. This becomes more important over time, as the treads get worn away or weakened by woodworm.

On staircases which have got creaky, tightening up all the wedges can restore the stiffness. You'll also find plenty of cases where the bottom of a riser has been nailed through into the back edge of the tread below - again, adding to the structural strength.

I really do think that if you start messing about cutting into the risers to put drawers in, you will get something which has weakened steps which will start to move and creak horribly.

How about a nice cupboard under the stairs instead?
 

Phil Pascoe

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In Cornwall a "cupboard under the stairs" is a "spence" - I find it difficult to use four words when one will do. Could you not build a nice unit of drawers under the stairs - make your drawers the depth of the risers. Ideal use for a spence!
 

Dibs-h

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I'm with Andy - I would cut into a riser to make a drawer. A new staircase that has been made specially with drawers, is one thing - but to modify and old one, I wouldn't.

HIH

Dibs
 

Phil Pascoe

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Dibs-h":228vko9z said:
I'm with Andy - I would cut into a riser to make a drawer. A new staircase that has been made specially with drawers, is one thing - but to modify and old one, I wouldn't.


HIH

Dibs
did you mean "wouldn't"cut....."?
 

Togalosh

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How about a nice cupboard under the stairs instead?[/quote]

haha..that's exactly what someone else said..funny how I did not question the idea but others have more sense. The house is small & full chocka & these stairs go up to 3rd floor ..so the back is the ceiling for the first set of stairs - no Spence here - that's on the ground floor & probably fit to burst.

I would do a belt n braces job on supporting any work I did & would not proceed if I thought I'd make things worse but it's a messy job to even take a look... so I will take all your advice & say it is unwise on a tight budget.

I must be more pragmatic.

Thanks chaps..
 

AndyT

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If the stairs are over another stair, anything you put on as drawers would be jutting into the headspace for people coming up the stairs below - another reason to say no!
 

Woody Alan

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Hi ,

Without wishing to go OTT and be a killjoy, it just sounds slighjtly dangerous to me ...No Ok it sounds very dangerous. Imagine coming down the stairs and someone has left a drawer slightly open and you cannot see it for the nosing ...heel catches it and drawer wooshes out and the rest is inevitable.
Think about it would you want it with children or elderly relatives or anyone for that matter. Under the stairs if necessary and leave at that.

Alan
 

Tierney

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I agree with all the others sounds like more trouble than it is worth. It is probably the sort of daft thing I would do in my own house on my own time though!

DT
 
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