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  1. #1
    Gold Member BillCroasmun's Avatar
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    Default Cutting steps into a bank

    I have a bank behind the house that drops down over ten feet. I want to make this friendly to walk up and down for family members of all ages. I am thinking about a 6" rise with a 22" run for the steps. I'll attach a cut away drawing of what the bank looks like and what I want to do with it. Nothing fancy at all. I want to leave the steps dirt for now with railroad ties to keep the edge on the steps.

    My question is I don't know how to start! [img]/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif[/img] I have standard hand tools (shovels, levels, etc.) I have a Power-Trac 180 with a FEL and a tiller (that attaches to the front arms). I was thinking of using that combo to start digging into the bank. The bank is pretty good soil no rock or hard clay to dig in.

    There are big landings at the top and bottom with plenty of room to work. I just don't know where to start (literally). Should I start at the top going down or the bottom going up. Do I completely cut the steps then put in the ties or complete one step at a time including the tie to hold it in place? Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions would be appreciated! [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    Bill
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  2. #2

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    Shoppin', Formerly Ford 1220, 7106 FEL, 60

    Default Re: Cutting steps into a bank

    <font color="blue"> I want to make this friendly to walk up and down for family members of "all" ages. </font>

    How wide is the property and would it be possible to carve in a walkway from side to side in somewhat of a 'Z' pattern?

    Don

  3. #3
    Veteran Member gsganzer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cutting steps into a bank

    You start at the bottom and go up. You'll have a RRtie for the riser and a tie on each side stabbing back into the bank (making the sides of the steps). Each riser rests on the step below it. Once you have the first step leveled, the rest are easy.

  4. #4
    Gold Member BillCroasmun's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cutting steps into a bank

    Don,
    It has a fair amount of trees that I am going in between and I don't want to disturb those too much

    Bill

  5. #5
    Super Member Bob_Skurka's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cutting steps into a bank

    Bill, I think Don may be onto something with a zig zag pattern or something other than a step that is 6" tall and 22" deep. Those steps would be pretty hard to stride with any rhythm. I think you'd find people would take a few steps, then have to adjust their stride, then take a few steps, then adjust their stride.

    We have a stone staircase that goes down part of one of our slopes. It was layed out in several small flights with a few small landings. So you climb 4 or 5 stone steps that are each roughly similar in rise/run to a standard staircase, then come to a landing that is about 3' to 5' long, then climb another 4 to 5 stone steps up to the next small landing. I think there are 4 sets of steps and 3 small landings to the stair case. It is very easy and natural to walk, even with the irregularities of the natural stones we used as steps.


  6. #6
    Gold Member BillCroasmun's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cutting steps into a bank

    Thanks, I was thinking that would be easier myself since you can more easily work on the step above you then below when it comes to leveling. Although I've seen my share of jobs that were anti-intuitive until you knew WHY they were done that way... [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    Any suggestions on removing the bulk of the dirt? Is the good ol' hand shovel going to be the best tool for the most of this?

    Since I've recently gotten the tractor the ol' phrase about everything looking like a nail when you have a hammer is applying to my tractor. I'd use it to clean the dishes if I could find an hydraulic washer... [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  7. #7
    Gold Member BillCroasmun's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cutting steps into a bank

    Bob, thanks for the input. One consideration I had was for my mother who uses a small walker. The 22" would hold the footprint of that and let her place it on the step below, step down, step up to the edge and repeat. I was also thinking of a stone seat off to the side about half way down. It would add to the looks and be functional for resting. I'll have to give the "platform" approach some more thought though. Maybe it would be less hard on her to do a few steeper steps and than have a nice landing to rest on.

    We also have several toddlers in the family and I originally thought the 6"/22" would be a slow enough pitch that I don't think you could fall down the whole flight. But a few steps and a landing would also provide "landing spots" without too much of a fall should an accident occur.

  8. #8
    Veteran Member Nasty135's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cutting steps into a bank

    Bill, Looking at your drawing , I have a question ,Is it possible to take some of the dirt off the knoll at the bottom 1/3 of the slope and drag it out to lessen the incline at the bottom? Because other wise you will be cutting a valley into your bank...

    Generally the slope somewhat dictates the amount of depth a tread is going to have.

    As said before start at the bottom...

    I have a smaller scale than yours staircase that I used RR ties then behind each tie is a poured slab which is about 1' in depth adding to the 8" RR tie for a total of about a 20" tread.

    You could use brick pavers or concrete squares or stamped concrete(nice)behind each riser post. I could post a pic if it would help.

  9. #9
    Super Star Member EddieWalker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cutting steps into a bank

    I'm thinking about a different aproach.

    The ten foot drop isn't all that much for a set of stairs, but the shallow angle makes it difficult. Could you build a nice deck out over the slope?

    Then from the end of the deck, you build a normal set of stairs on some 2X12 with railings for the kids and elderly.

    It's just me, but a deck with some elevation creates a very dramatic view.

    If your set on cutting the steps into the dirt with railroad ties, then I'd copy the way the forest service does it on their trails. Wind it aroud to control erosion. Don't make it a strait run.

    I personally hate railroad ties, but that's because the rot out so fast here. They might last longer in your area. PT wood is much more preferable with stone or block being the best.

    The easiest way to fasten them is to drill a 7/16 inch hole through the middle and pound in a half inch piece of rebar about 18 inches into the ground. Three of those in a board will keep it there forever.

    Allot of the trails I've hiked on use PT 2X6's or 8's for the steps and two galvanized pipes on the outside with clamps to hold it together.

    Eddie



  10. #10
    Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Cutting steps into a bank

    Eddie,
    I did the rebar thing in California. I used 4"x4"x8' pressure treated lumber and 3/4" rebar driven through holes in the lumber. When I installed the lumber it was quite heavy, when I removed it 4 years later it was very light. Termites tunneled into the holes drilled in the lumber and ate it from the inside out. The lumber looked real good on the outside. The treatment was not the type for underground use but for landscaping. I did not treat the drilled holes before putting them in place.
    The deck idea sounds great.

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