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To build a deck, part 3.0 (wherein I dig some holes)Thursday, August 26, 2010
With all but one of the deck boards installed, the time has come to finalize the design of the stairs and install the footings that will anchor the base of the stairway. As with many things in life, SolidWorks becomes the tool of choice to figure this one out:

Okay, that's complicated. Now that all of these dimensions are set, I can go ahead and place the footings. Because the stair posts be 4x4 Ipe, I decided to use 8-inch diameter forms for these, instead of the larger 10-inch footings that we installed for the main deck posts. The first step was to hang a plumb bob over where the hole would need to be, for which I took one of the long Ipe boards and cantilevered it out over the future stairway.

Then to dig the second hole, insert the cardboard forms, and pack down the dirt around them. Having done this six times now, I can fairly well predict the composition of the soil. The top 8-10 inches are a brown/black soil, with quite a few big rocks (which are either massive and right in the way, or seem to just poke into the hole in such a way that you need to dig a massive cavern on the side just to get them out). Then it turns into a orange/red clay layer that is often criss-crossed with rather thick roots (from what, I have no idea). Beyond this is a mix of more hardpacked clay and rocks. But, the exercise is good. So, here we are:

And as seen from the other side, you can almost imagine what this will look like with a set of stairs running up to the deck...

Tomorrow morning I'll pour the concrete and install the anchor bolts, then that will need to cure for a few days before I install the posts, stringers, and stairs.

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