Picture of Self standing staircase
Stairs. Everyone has seen them. Everyone has used them. And most people avoid them whenever possible.  They are fairly simple depending on how much detail you go into on them. They just take a little planning, a little math, and a steady hand. The ones I designed and built/will build were designed so that they could be loaded up on a truck or on a forklift and be strapped down and be put on the ground and be done with it.  Since these were made to go up against a Hesco in Afghanistan precision wasn't really the greatest concern. They just had to be sturdy and long lasting. So, lets begin!
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Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Picture of Tools and Supplies
Alright so lets begin with the tools shall we. 

Must have's:

1- Hand Saw
2- Hammer
3- 16d Nails
4- Framing Square
5- Pencil
6- Tape measure

Things to make life easier:

1- Circular Saw
2- Jig saw
3- Nail Gun
4- Stair Gauge
5- Board Bender
6- String Line
7- Chop Saw

Now for the supplies. I can't tell you the cost of the project cause honestly I don't know. We just went out to the yard with all the wood and just started building. Kinda the perks of building in the Seabee's, you have all the wood you need. But anyways.

At least 6 good, straight, uncracked 2x12x16-They really do have to be pretty much perfect otherwise it will cause headaches later.
2- 2x6x16
3- 2x4x16
3- 4x4x16
AllenInks2 years ago
Thank you for your service, and your Instructable.

I was wondering if the railing might not be stronger if the baluster were part of stick of lumber that extended all the way down to the base, rather than ending at the stringer? This would give give better leverage to suport the railing. I would think that someone racing up/down the stairs in combat gear who missteps and falls against the railing might exert quite a lot of force outwardly on the railing - enough to pull out the fasteners between the baluster and the stringer, or splinter the wooden stringer, perhaps.. I was thinking that it could go to ground level, and tied into the base structure with a 2x spacer (to account for the width of the outboard stringer of the stairs). I would think that such a board might even be able to substitute for the uprights supporting the stair stringers, if the boards in the base were tied to the outside of the stringers instead of the inside of the stirngers, as you have been building them. The combined support/baluster could tie to the boards in the base in a T, perhaps reinforced with plywood triangles at the T to stabilize the joint laterally. With such a structure, the torque on a baluster of an outwardly exerted force on the railing would be taken up by the connetion to the base, and the fasteners tying the baluster to the stringer would only have to hold against the outward force, instead of both the outward force and the torque exerted as in the present structure.

It's just a thought, and I haven't sat down to work out the stress calculations involved. It's just that I know that I've seen railings on decks, and the ones that are just tied into the joists of the deck are much more wobbly than the designs where there is a continuous post coming from the footer to the railing, and fastened to the joist. You DID ask for constructive criticism...

HickLife (author)  AllenInks2 years ago
That is very true. I appreciate your input. You are right that if someone in full battle rattle (which adds about 50-70lbs) falls into the hand rail full force there is a chance it will fail. And all of the ideas you stated are great and will most definitely re-enforce it. My one concern I see with what you said is replacing the uprights with the 2x6 baluster. I feel that the 2x6 would be too narrow thus unstable and weaker than the current 4x4. One alternative could be taking how it is now and just adding your idea to it. Extend the 2x6 all the way down the upright while using 2x spacers to nail into it. You obviously have a more in depth and professional knowledge about this than I do, and as I said before I greatly appreciate your input.
saladlamp.27 days ago

This is just what I was looking for. Thanks for posting and sharing.

Sea bee's are bad to the bone, I worked for one years back, and he was in WWII, he could literally make chicken soup from chicken *@#$. Good job on the stairs, but an old timer showed me a quick tip for building free standing stairs that made em a lot easier to make and stronger. Just cut the middle stringer out, and layout the outside stringers. Then nail 2x4 or 2x2 to the layout marks on the runs (the steps) of the outside stringers. Nail the treads to the middle stringer, and then the tops of the 2 by's on the uncut outside stringers. By not cutting the outside stringers they keep 100% of their strength. just thinking about big dudes with all there equipment, I am sure what you built is more than enough, just trying to help out people who protecting me and my family.
This sounds like a good idea, but I just cannot visualize it. do you know of any pictures of plans that show this method?
HickLife (author)  builderofmanythings2 years ago
Haha thank you. That does sound alot easier. I built my last set a few days ago so I wont be able to try it out though. thank you for the comment and great idea
asteadman2 years ago
Thanks so much for taking the time to post this!

I have an insatiable interest in low-tech, low cost, sustainable construction projects, but I'd never heard of "Hesco's" before. They look interesting, so I'm curious why you don't like building them?

I'm not an engineer, and to be honest, it's a stretch to even call me an amateur when it comes to this stuff. I'd really appreciate any feedback or advise you could give me.

Is there another strong, but inexpensive, typeif construction that you'd recommend over Hesco's?

And finally...

It's been said, but not often enough... Thanks for getting our backs!
PACW2 years ago
Thank you for your service. And if you are one of the SeaBees who got my son completely drunk for the first time in his life, thank you for getting him dressed and to his plane on time!

I need to learn to read the comments before I go off searching. I had to look up Hesco because I thought your walls looked alot like Gabions!

Great instructable that I imagine (and hope) I will never have need for!
dimtick2 years ago
First off...Thanks For Your Service !!!!!!!!!!!

nice job with these. my only comment is that when the height of your stairs is over 6 feet, it may be a good idea to add some outriggers at the bottom for stability. Because your stairs are not anchored to footers, there is a real risk of them falling over, unless you have them secured at the top which it doesn't look like you do. there is the 2x6 cross memner that ties the 2 posts together. take that board and extend it out to either side, then add a 2x4 diagonal brace. ideally you want to extend half the height to either side, but if space is limited then extend out however far you can, even a couple feet will do a lot for the stability. if you pile some sand bags on the bottom members, that weight will dampen the vibrations as you go up and down the stairs.
To accomodate uneven ground, it may work a little better in the furture to raise up the boards that you have running along the ground so that only the steps and the posts are in contact with the ground. make it much easier to level and stabalize the stairs.
HickLife (author)  dimtick2 years ago
Thank you for your support. To sorta counter your comment, yes it is over 6 feet tall (7' 1 1/2" to be exact) and when on even ground they don't wobble. At all. We've danced on them (no joke) jumped down onto them in full gear and ran up and down them to get tools and they dont budge when on even ground. Notice I keep saying even ground cause they will always wobble otherwise. You do bring up good points though on how to improve stability. And yes in this situation space (at least on one side) was an issue, as you can see it is flush to the wall on one side. Thanks for the the comment. I hope it helps someone with ideas for their own design.
Fred826642 years ago
Thank you for your service ! Guys like you made life for my son a little better as he served his term in Iraq
HickLife (author)  Fred826642 years ago
Thats part of what the Seabees do, go to the places Americans have never stepped foot and build things that most would say it couldn't be done there.
mainah HickLife2 years ago
OOH RAW, Seabees. Builder-NMCB 58- Camp Sheilds- Chu Lai- Vietnam- 1969. Ain't the Bees a Hell of a bunch!
HickLife (author)  mainah2 years ago
Yes they are, but I'm sure they are nothing compared to when you were a part of them. Its great to talk to a man that laid the ground work and set the legacy that we are known for and learn about
mortyr0452 years ago
how are the fort walls made?
HickLife (author)  mortyr0452 years ago
Fort? The camp? They are made of Hesco's. One commenter posted a link on them if you want info about them. but basically its a huge wire basket with fabric filled with dirt. Very simple but VERY annoying and frustrating and overall pain in the butt
wanna beco2 years ago
bwelkin2 years ago
I had to look up Husco:
Embarrassing for a jarhead (now fifty years out of service)

Good work and like the others have said, thanks for joining our military service.

HickLife (author)  bwelkin2 years ago
Lol dont be embarrassed, they haven't been around too aweful long. I'm debating on making an instructable about them, standing them up and filling them and such. I will say that with in 30 minutes of working with them you wish you they had never been invented
jerbear19782 years ago
You could mount wheels on it if it were going to be moved a lot.
Very nice instructions and pics. I do have one comment: you said "just take that off of the bottom step and make it smaller than the rest of them". Most local codes will want the steps to all be the same height. Make all the steps a little more or a little less to get them all the same height. When you go up or down steps, if one is a different height, it throws off your gait. I realize, however, your environment does not have code to deal with.
HickLife (author)  David_n_Redena2 years ago
That is true about local codes wanting the steps the same height. If someone were to use a calculator like I mentioned the height wont be a problem because like you said it would make the step a little more or a little less thus eliminating that problem. It is true that precision isn't really the biggest concern out here, and the way I have built these are more for something along the lines of a tree house or something similar where precision isn't the biggest concern either. Thanks for the comment.
marhar HickLife2 years ago
Hope you built this one to all the local codes, lol... thanks for your service!
Eachief2 years ago
Good PR for the 'Bees. What Battalion?
HickLife (author)  Eachief2 years ago
ilpug2 years ago
Nice! So, this is basically a building block in modular fortifications?
HickLife (author)  ilpug2 years ago
We have been doing them for the Afghan National Army but we also did a few for our own troops and we have a few more where we will do the same. We COULD have just thrown some 2x4's together and called it a ladder and been done with it but a staircase is more of a "hey look what we can do" sort of thing. Plus I enjoy making them.
ilpug HickLife2 years ago
It came out really nice. I suppose a staircase makes everything go a bit faster than a ladder in the event that you have to haul ass up or down.
HickLife (author)  ilpug2 years ago
Lol. thats true. I have to build 2 more today actually. I'll be sure to get more pictures to clear up anything that may have been hazy.
ilpug HickLife2 years ago
Looks all straightforward to me.
l8nite2 years ago
thanks for sharing and thanks for serving
HickLife (author)  l8nite2 years ago
Your welcome, and thank you for your support
owlart1012 years ago
Good job, I think it came out well
HickLife (author)  owlart1012 years ago
Thanks, its actually a compilation of 5 stairs i've built in the past 2 months. They are all slightly different