How to Use Your Smartphone to Measure the Pitch of a Stair Stringer (Curved or Straight)

Don’t hang up your carpenter’s square quite yet; it will still be useful in the layout of your treads.

But today’s smartphones have mini gyroscopes called MEMS (microelectromechanical system) gyros (that’s “JIGH-ro, not the Greek food GEE-ro).

These sensors allow very accurate measurement of the phone’s orientation to a plumb line.

Step 1:  Download an app — most are free (bubble level).  Consider this Android app or this iPhone app.

Step 2:  Hold the phone with long axis along the string — as parallel as possible, please.

Step 3:  Read degrees and, if needed, convert to XX on 12 pitch by using the formula 12*tan(degrees).  In this photo, 35.3 degrees on the level equals a 8.49 to 12 pitch.

Measuring the Pitch of a Stair Stringer with a Smartphone


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