The previous winter, we had taken delivery of a truckload of pallets, courtesy of a neighbour who's in the building trade, and for once they were all the same size!

(Click photos to enlarge)

Staircase construction started with the installation of a frame for the lower landing. I used some left-over wood from the second-floor joist installation.

Final measurements could now be taken, and the required length of the strings could be calculated. In staircase terminology, the strings (limon in French) are the two side parts of a staircase supporting the treads (which you walk on) and the risers (the fill-in at the back of the treads). There is a formula for determining the size of the tread and riser, and the number of treads required. Building standards also come into play here in order to ensure a comfortable experience when ascending or descending the stairs. I'm not going to go into too many details; this is not a stair-building website. I had never built a staircase before, so found the book "Simply Stairs" by Mark Milner extremely useful.

Because this book is published in the UK, I considered that there may be differences in building regulations between the UK and France, so did some checking. The formula used was the same; twice the "rise" (the height of each tread in mm) plus the "going" (depth of each tread in mm) gives you a number. This must be between 580 and 620 (France) and between 550 and 700 (UK). The east stair flight came out at 581, with 9 steps; whereas the west flight resulted in a figure of 612, with 10 steps. So building regulations were satisfied, in either country! The differences between the two flights were due to the fact that the landing was not precisely in the midpoint of the stairwell, because as previously mentioned, the massive oak beam - which was the cause of us having to construct a double staircase - was not in the middle of the barn.

Now that I knew the length of the strings, I could start making them by laminating lots of strips of wood together.