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View ToddJB's profile

How would you make these stair treads?

by ToddJB
posted 08-04-2016 06:25 PM


39 replies so far

View JayT's profile

JayT

6211 posts in 2606 days


#1 posted 08-04-2016 06:46 PM

Todd, you might think about PM’ing Tony_S I know he does stairs professionally at a really high level and is probably the best one to answer the questions.

-- https://www.jtplaneworks.com - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

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ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#2 posted 08-04-2016 06:53 PM

OOOHHHH. Nice. Thanks JayT. Will do.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View John_G's profile

John_G

165 posts in 3086 days


#3 posted 08-04-2016 06:57 PM

OK so here are just my random thoughts on this….
Risers:
-definitely need to be something beefier, i’m thinking based on the tightness of the bend you could use either bendy plywood (yes it’s a thing) just just laminate a few layers of thinner plywood, gluing and screwing it together.
-If the risers were going to be something non plywood you’d be talking laminating multiple this strips together again around a form.

Treads:
-I agree with your running the grain in that direction
-If you have to join multiple boards together do it via the long grain not the end grain. Probably biscut along the long grain every 6-8” making a super wide board. make a carboard template or masonite and fit that then cut the oak to that.

-- John Gray

View KelvinGrove's profile

KelvinGrove

2043 posts in 2307 days


#4 posted 08-04-2016 07:10 PM

“This is how they currently sit. The risers are currently just 1/8” ply that have been wrapped around, that doesn’t seem good enough to me. Should there be 1/2” or 3/4” material skinned to the front of that?”

I assume that the tread will be sitting directly on top of the OSB we see? If so, the strength comes from what ever is under the OSB. If it is well framed then the riser does not need to be able to provide any support. If it is NOT well framed then my next question would be, what holds up the back even if the riser to its front is beefed to support the weight?

“If so, what material would be best to use (the risers will be painted).”

Poplar takes paint better than any other wood.

-- Tim P. Calhoun GA. If traffic is passing you on the right, YOU ARE IN THE WRONG DAMN LANE.

View KelvinGrove's profile

KelvinGrove

2043 posts in 2307 days


#5 posted 08-04-2016 07:28 PM

How about a series of these across the front? Lots of strength and a good visual effect

-- Tim P. Calhoun GA. If traffic is passing you on the right, YOU ARE IN THE WRONG DAMN LANE.

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#6 posted 08-04-2016 07:38 PM

John, thanks. A lot of that makes sense to me.

Tim, I’m not worried about the riser adding vertical strength. The stairs are made up of a lot of 2x, 3/4” OSB, and will have 1” of oak on top. They’ll be plenty vertically strong. I was more concern about putting my boot through the front of the riser if it was only 1/8 ply.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View bhog's profile

bhog

2238 posts in 3085 days


#7 posted 08-04-2016 07:43 PM

Your grain running will work. Make a template and use that when you choose locations for biscuits or dominoes so when you cut your arch you don’t end up exposing an eye sore.

I’d use a half round with bearing and do top and bottom of your front to make your bullnose before you install.

I’d put another layer of 1/4 on the risers personally because they’re going to get kicked a lot.

-- I don't drive a Prius.

View JayT's profile

JayT

6211 posts in 2606 days


#8 posted 08-04-2016 07:46 PM

What kind of flooring are you going to have in the kitchen? Reason I ask is that the grain direction works for not exposing end grain, but if you are going to have hardwood floors, it might look funny to have the grain of the floor running a different direction than the stairs.

-- https://www.jtplaneworks.com - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#9 posted 08-04-2016 07:51 PM


Your grain running will work. Make a template and use that when you choose locations for biscuits or dominoes so when you cut your arch you don t end up exposing an eye sore.

Never would have thought about that. Awesome. Thanks

I d use a half round with bearing and do top and bottom of your front to make your bullnose before you install.

Do you mean round over with a bearing?

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View KelvinGrove's profile

KelvinGrove

2043 posts in 2307 days


#10 posted 08-04-2016 07:56 PM


Tim, I m not worried about the riser adding vertical strength. The stairs are made up of a lot of 2x, 3/4” OSB, and will have 1” of oak on top. They ll be plenty vertically strong. I was more concern about putting my boot through the front of the riser if it was only 1/8 ply.

- ToddJB

That makes a lot more sense then. I think half inch or even 3/4 poplar, or even birch plywood, scored to bend in place would do it.

-- Tim P. Calhoun GA. If traffic is passing you on the right, YOU ARE IN THE WRONG DAMN LANE.

View bhog's profile

bhog

2238 posts in 3085 days


#11 posted 08-04-2016 07:58 PM


Do you mean round over with a bearing?

- ToddJB

Yes sir. I’m tired lol

-- I don't drive a Prius.

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#12 posted 08-04-2016 08:02 PM

JayT, floor will run like this:

The top tread (3) will be much smaller and just cap the 2.25” oak floor planks.

I was under the impression it wasn’t weird at all to have the tread’s grain running a different direction than the floor.

Maybe I’m wrong?

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#13 posted 08-04-2016 08:26 PM

Also should the riser rest on the lower tread, like this?

Or should it butt up against it?

The former would be a lot easier to get a nice finished look.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View JayT's profile

JayT

6211 posts in 2606 days


#14 posted 08-04-2016 08:31 PM

Having the grain running different directions would look weird to me, but it’s not my house. (And maybe I’m the weird one). On an installation without curves, I would have the grain follow the direction of the stair tread, even if that didn’t line up with the floor. It’s the curve that’s throwing me. The only way to have long grain running around would be to segment the curve, but then you have joints where the grain won’t line up or you have to bend the wood.

On risers, the way you have it drawn is the normal way of running them with the riser resting on, and covering the gap at the rear of, the tread below.

-- https://www.jtplaneworks.com - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View splatman's profile

splatman

586 posts in 1793 days


#15 posted 08-04-2016 08:37 PM

For the risers:
Use multiple layers of thin plywood laminated together for a total thickness of at least ½”. Overenthusiastic toes will take a toll on anything thinner. Poplar dents too easily. Scored wood is not much stronger than a single thin layer of wood. It is essentially a thin piece of wood with fins on the back.

For the treads:
Do a bent lamination of strips of oak that follows the curve on the curved section and run straight on the straight section. No exposed endgrain, no grain running in funny directions, and no miters. It is totally fine to have grain parallel to the treads regardless the floor grain direction.

Make the lamination thicker than needed, then plane to the correct thickness. Run the lamination thru the planer curved end first, turning them as they go. Thread #1 might be a bit tricky to plane this way if you only have a 12” or 13” planer, due to its tight curve. Cut a piece of cardboard to match and slide it through your planer (w/ planer turned off) to see if this will work. Also make the lamination 2+” longer on each end to take any snipe. Trimming to length will take care of the snipe.

Once planing is done, rout the nosing to the desired profile.

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#16 posted 08-04-2016 08:48 PM

Thanks Splat!

I have hesitation around doing a bent lamination. I think that would look great, but I’m not confident in my skill of making that happen. Do you know of a good tutorial of how to do it for my application?

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View KelvinGrove's profile

KelvinGrove

2043 posts in 2307 days


#17 posted 08-04-2016 09:17 PM

Thanks Splat, I didn’t know that about poplar and you may be right about the strength of scored wood too.

-- Tim P. Calhoun GA. If traffic is passing you on the right, YOU ARE IN THE WRONG DAMN LANE.

View MadMark's profile

MadMark

979 posts in 1847 days


#18 posted 08-04-2016 09:28 PM

The $1200 is cheap – pay it with a smile.

M

-- Madmark - [email protected] Wiretreefarm.com

View Hammerthumb's profile

Hammerthumb

2943 posts in 2370 days


#19 posted 08-04-2016 09:49 PM

Splatman has it correct. I sent you a PM Todd.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1368 posts in 1314 days


#20 posted 08-05-2016 03:15 AM

ToddJB,

JohnG’s suggestion for gluing up narrower oak planks to form a wide plank and then be cut to shape using a template sounds like a good alternative to the bent lamination approach. The bent lamination approach would produce very nice and unique looking stair treads. However, this approach is a lot of work and would take considerable time; and spring back could spoil the curve – although I am not sure how much spring back there would be on such a wide bent lamination.

Rather than gluing several long oak planks together to form one long and wide plank, as JohnG seemed to suggest, a slight modification in the glue-up could save some material. This modified glue-up would result in a workpiece more or less in the shape of an L that could then be cut to size and shape with a template.

Enough long planks would need to be edge glued to span the entire long section of the tread. Thereafter, shorter pieces of oak could be edge glued to the long planks. The shorter planks would need to be long enough so that the curve can be cut. If you wanted the grain to run at an angle to the long riser, the long plank portion of the glue-up would need to be wide enough so that the template can be angled on the glue-up. The template can be used during the glue-up to ensure sufficient stock is used so that glue-up can be cut to the proper shape and size.

This approach, if the grain direction of the trend is kept parallel to the long section of the riser, would leave end grain at the ends of the long section of the tread, while the exposed end on the tread at the end of the curve would be long grain. All grain direction would be parallel.

View Tony_S's profile

Tony_S

971 posts in 3477 days


#21 posted 08-05-2016 10:50 AM

Risers first.
1/8” is definitely too thin.
Build out the existing risers first with 2 layers of 1/4” Luan that has the back planed off(finished @ 3/16”). That’ll make the Luan pretty floppy.
Glue well and brad nail each layer to the framing behind the existing riser one layer at a time. Don’t be shy with the brad’s. Stagger any joints between layers 6”-12”. Even though this is just the underlay for the final finished riser surface, take your time and make it as smooth and fluid as possible. Also, do your best to square up the riser face to the tread below(shim if need be)....It’ll make templating and fitting the tread and finished riser face a lot easier later.

Template your tread at this stage. The back of the tread template doesn’t need to be a perfect fit, but close. ( would just use cardboard myself) Hack it out initially and then scribe with a pencil and recut. Repeat as necessary.
For the front of the tread(nosing) scribe the underside of the template(a simple compass works great) using the lower riser as a guide, allowing for what ever nosing projection you need(not sure what your building codes specify) Plus 1/8” for the finished riser surface. So if you want a finished nosing projection of 1”...scribe at 1 1/8”. Use the template as a reference to cut and glue your material.
As for cutting and cleaning up the tread edges, use the tools you have at hand….skil saw, table saw, band saw, jig saw….an edge sander to clean up the cuts if you have one, or a simple belt sander if you don’t.
If you can make an MDF template to match the nosing overhang, you can clean it up with a router and a template bit.
Profile nosing and sand.
For the finished surface of the paint grade risers, you have a few different options at this stage. I would typically use whatever is in the shop at the time….1/8” MDF, 1/4” MDF planed down to 1/8”(usually more flexible due to the softer core being exposed.) Or 1/4” maple ply(veneer core) with the back planed off.

Start at riser #1. Fit, glue and nail.
Glue and nail tread #1 and 2 in place. I would normally use PL Premium for glue in instances like this….it’s a great gap filler for less than perfect surfaces.
Fit riser #2 to the top of tread #1 and the underside of #2. Scribing and fitting the bottom of the riser is fairly simple, but there really isn’t an easy way to fit the top of the riser neatly. Cut it 1/16 taller and fit by trial and error.
Rinse and repeat.
There really is no magic…it’s usually a tedious project depending on the stairs the framer build (usually crap) and your skill set.

Some quick thoughts.
You didn’t state how thick your flooring is, but if its anything more or less than 1”, your risers will be inconsistent in height. Some building codes are sticky about that.
What are you going to do on the right hand side of the stair to finish it off?
End grain sucks….but if your not confident laminating nosings, don’t.
I don’t know what the original quote included for nosings, mouldings ETC….but to do this properly with laminated nosings, returns on the right hand side. I would be quoting in the 3000.00 range.

Ask all the questions you like….usually my thoughts don’t come out my finger tips properly. I’m sure I missed a bunch.
Gotta run!

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#22 posted 08-05-2016 05:21 PM

Woah. A lot of really awesome info. Thank you guys so much.

Okay, a couple things. Splat and Paul, I am very certain you are right that bent lamination would look the best, but as JBrow pointed out that is a lot of work. I did the math and I would be looking at 250 1/8” strips. That’s a lot of trips to the jointer, bandsaw, planer, repeat. Plus the time in making three separate glue up molds.

I went to the lumber yard this morning on the way to work and picked up enough oak that I’m pretty certain I can keep my grains looking pretty good. I hope anyways.

JBrow, your glue up approach is what I planned in my head. Thanks for affirming me ;)

Tony, so you’re suggesting that I add a total of 1/2 to the riser. Adding 2 pieces of 3/16 Luan first, then after the lower tread is in finisinghing with a piece of 1/8” piece so something, right?

Also, you asked how the right side will finish off – railing with a base wall.

Will end up like this – hopefully

Okay, last question – for now – I think

The tread itself on steps one and two should the tread be built like A or B or does it matter?

The tread on the kitchen floor I believe needs to be built like A since the floor is only 3/4” and the I want the nose to be 1”, but does it matter on the other two?

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Hammerthumb's profile

Hammerthumb

2943 posts in 2370 days


#23 posted 08-05-2016 07:16 PM

You have it correct on your nosing and tread Todd. Kitchen floor will need to be at 3/4 to match the flooring. But be careful as Tony said about the codes. If the framing was built with his not taken into consideration, you are starting out with a 1/4” rise difference between the kitchen step and the second step. Also, what is your flooring at the bottom? If it is thin like carpet or vinyl, you will have an even bigger difference.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View Hammerthumb's profile

Hammerthumb

2943 posts in 2370 days


#24 posted 08-05-2016 07:19 PM

By the way, if the curve in the picture is all you have to deal with, the strips for cold lamination could be 1/4” thick. Its not hard to do if you build your form on a piece of plywood. I use to have plywood tables just for this. I would screw blocks directly into the table for clamping. When done, just unscrew and reuse.

Edit: I can’t spell!

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#25 posted 08-05-2016 08:38 PM

Paul, I’ll need to measure and do the math, but at a quick look the bottom two are taller than the top, which makes since, but I’ll see exactly what I’m dealing with.

The landing at the bottom with be 3/4” hardwood, as well.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Tony_S's profile

Tony_S

971 posts in 3477 days


#26 posted 08-05-2016 10:14 PM



Tony, so you re suggesting that I add a total of 1/2 to the riser. Adding 2 pieces of 3/16 Luan first, then after the lower tread is in finisinghing with a piece of 1/8” piece so something, right?

Correct

Okay, last question – for now – I think

The tread itself on steps one and two should the tread be built like A or B or does it matter?

The tread on the kitchen floor I believe needs to be built like A since the floor is only 3/4” and the I want the nose to be 1”, but does it matter on the other two?
- ToddJB


The top nosing…your calling it a tread. Are you planning on making a full tread for the top? Typically, the ‘top nosing’ as we would call it would be a standard 3 1/2” wide, not full tread width.
Regardless, for the top ‘piece’, yes, you would need to use “A”.
For the other two, it depends on each unit rise of the existing stairs and building code tolerances.
If you can, “A” is the way to go on all. It makes fitting the finished risers WAY easier. The finished riser then can be installed before the next finished tread up, flush with the above rough tread. Then the back of the 1” nosing just butts into the lower finished riser.

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#27 posted 08-05-2016 10:19 PM

Perfect. Thanks!

One the back side of the top nosing – the non-nose side. Is that usually just cut at a 90 and the floor just butts up to it, so should there be any kind of lap or tongue and groove?

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Hammerthumb's profile

Hammerthumb

2943 posts in 2370 days


#28 posted 08-06-2016 12:43 AM

You can put a groove on that side. You can then use slip tongue or the tongue of the flooring material. Slip tongue is like a floating tenon.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#29 posted 08-15-2016 06:14 AM

Here an update for any of you kids who are following along at home.

Top nosing is done and resting in place. Bottom tread is fitted, and needs the front smoothed out and then rounded. The middle tread has yet to be started.

Thanks for all the advice gents.

Edit: the darkness on part of the top nosing is an area where the mineral spirits had not dried yet.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Hammerthumb's profile

Hammerthumb

2943 posts in 2370 days


#30 posted 08-15-2016 01:31 PM

Looks good Todd. I know they are a little time consuming, but not to difficult for a man with your talent.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View KelvinGrove's profile

KelvinGrove

2043 posts in 2307 days


#31 posted 09-11-2016 04:04 PM

Tis’ the season, I guess

-- Tim P. Calhoun GA. If traffic is passing you on the right, YOU ARE IN THE WRONG DAMN LANE.

View KelvinGrove's profile

KelvinGrove

2043 posts in 2307 days


#32 posted 09-11-2016 07:44 PM

Hummmm, I seem to have gotten the last on the wrong thread.

-- Tim P. Calhoun GA. If traffic is passing you on the right, YOU ARE IN THE WRONG DAMN LANE.

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#33 posted 09-23-2016 03:58 PM

AAANNNDDDDDD DONE.

Thanks for all the advice gang. Though they’re not bent lam, I’m still pleased as punch.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View JayT's profile

JayT

6211 posts in 2606 days


#34 posted 09-23-2016 04:03 PM

Those look really good, Todd. Maybe you should start subcontracting out to do custom stairs.

-- https://www.jtplaneworks.com - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

16130 posts in 3013 days


#35 posted 09-23-2016 04:05 PM

Very nice, indeed!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Tony_S's profile

Tony_S

971 posts in 3477 days


#36 posted 09-23-2016 11:11 PM

Again, great job!

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8495 posts in 2525 days


#37 posted 09-23-2016 11:45 PM

Credit goes to ya’ll. Thanks again.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View splatman's profile

splatman

586 posts in 1793 days


#38 posted 09-25-2016 11:39 PM

Looks Purdy good.

To anyone else considering the same; I should have thought of these before:
Find a sufficiently curvy log and have it milled into planks from which you make the treads. Of course, this requires a load of patience, as you will have to wait for the wood to dry. A kiln will speed thing up a bit. Contact local arborists.

Or do a segmented glue-up. Much like those segmented rings you see in some bowl turning videos. Reinforce the joints with tongues and grooves, splines, biscuits, dowels, or a plywood backer.

View KelvinGrove's profile

KelvinGrove

2043 posts in 2307 days


#39 posted 10-02-2016 10:38 PM

A log like that might be hard to find.

-- Tim P. Calhoun GA. If traffic is passing you on the right, YOU ARE IN THE WRONG DAMN LANE.

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