Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The Staircase Progresses

The parts of a staircase.

Yesterday afternoon we trekked up to M.Chaboisson's workshop to have a look at the staircase.

Niangon, in the raw, waiting to be made into balustrades.
The wood has arrived, and we now know the staircase will be made from Niangon, a non-floating hardwood from Gabon/Cameroon Tarrietia (or Heritiera) densiflora, which means it is a Sterculiaceae and comes from the same family as Theobroma cacao, the plant responsible for chocolate and cocoa.

Finding the best fit for the stringers
Jean-Michel was laying out the paper plan to cut the blanks for the stringers, while Jean-Louis was starting work on the noyau*. All the blanks for the treads have been made and are awaiting final cutting, and the wood for the banisters and handrails is sitting there waiting for work to begin.

The wood for the treads. waiting to be cut down to size.

All very exciting!


*Until two weeks ago, we thought noyau was walnut wood. There is a separate entry on our devis for noyau because we wanted to have the inside curve of the demolished staircase reproduced in the new staircase. We knew the separate item on our devis was because the curve needs to be carved rather than cut, but we didn't understand why it was to be made from walnut when the rest of the staircase was exotic hardwood. We wondered what the two woods would look like together. We knew what walnut looked like, but we could only guess what our bois exotique would look like because until yesterday we did not know what species it was going to be. Eventually we asked if the menuiserie had samples of the two woods so we could see them together. The receptionist looked completely puzzled by this request and said 'But it is the same wood!' For a moment we thought 'Wow! We're going to get a staircase in exotic walnut!' but then it dawned on me...noyau must be a technical joinery term. Noyau must be the name of that section of the staircase...doh! Much laughter all round at the menuiserie, and I'm sure Jean-Louis will do a fine job.

Noyau = newel post, but in my defence, I would like to point out that my dictionary was very little help in this matter. I showed the entry to the receptionist at the joiners and she agreed that it wasn't very helpful. It says 'noyau: (nm) stone, kernel, nucleus, cell, hub, core'. Walnut tree in French is noyer, and I guess I just assumed that the wood from walnut trees was called noyau.



Ken Broadhurst said...

The Unabridged Collins-Robert French-English Dictionary is a good one to have. You can by it on CD. Here's what it gives for the term in question:

noyau, pl noyaux [ nwajo ] nom masculin

(de fruit) stone , pit
(Astronomie , Biologie , Physique) nucleus
(Géologie) core
(Linguistique) kernel , nucleus
(Informatique) kernel
(Art centre) , core
(Électricité, Électronique) core (of induction coil etc )
(Construction) newel
enlevez les noyaux  : remove the stones (from the fruit) | pit the fruit

This wouldn't have helped me much because I had no idea what "newel" meant.

Anonymous said...

the shop itself looks like paradise, a clean, well-lighted and enORmous place. what fun.

Thib said...

Excerpt from "Dicobat - Dictionnaire Général du Batiment" :

"Noyau (pour un escalier) : Partie centrale porteuse des marches d'un escalier. Le noyau est cylindrique pour un escalier en colimaçon. Mais ce peut être aussi la paroi centrale d'un escalier."

... which, in English, would be something like this :
"Stair Newel: Central carrier of the stairs of a staircase. The newel is cylindrical for a spiral staircase. But it may also be the central (middle?) wall of a staircase."

There are a few explaning drawings in my dictionary, that I can scan and email you if you're interested.

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