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Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





 

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Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





Well you did a great job. Working around restrictions placed on you that eliminated the way you were most comfortable with led you to adapt and overcome…improvise. You did great! This is some really nice work and made the staircase a showcase of the basement. Cool!
 

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4,691 Posts
Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





No wonder the owner was so happy. Beautiful job Scott.
 

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9,509 Posts
Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





They came out wonderful.
 

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Joined
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1,122 Posts
Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





Your father and you did a fine job.
 

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9,733 Posts
Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





This is BEAUTIFUL.
You not only did a great job on the stairs but on the photo progress and blog as well!!

If I ever wanted to build some stairs I 'd be reading your blog again for tips and tricks.

Very well done. Very well done. Bravo

(oh and your secret is safe with me. I won't tell anyone that you weren't experienced)
 

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2,053 Posts
Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





The pinnacle of carpentry must be stair building. Thanks for the blog!
 

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Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





Handsome set of stairs!
 

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9,138 Posts
Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





Congratulations on this project Scott. They look great.
 

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Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





Thanks for all the positive comments!

I sure had a trying week, still elated, and relieved from coming out on top of it…

to give you a glimpse of my mental state beforehand - to paraphrase from my reference material:

"Like gunslingers sizing each other up in a Hollywood western, newly acquanted carpenters always want to know how good the other is. Inevitabley, one poses the defining questiong: 'Can you build stairs?'...
Even in a simple home, a staircase is a complex thing…. Along with framing a roof, building a staircase is one of the most challenging geometrical tasks in building a house… Nowhere in the framing of a house is the possibility for accumulated error greater than in framing stairs."

... but no pressure for a novice, right?..You bet I've sure been virtually stress free this past week. Living virtually stress free!
 

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Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





Then just be glad that it was not a spiral staircase.
 

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Joined
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179 Posts
Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





That's some great looking stairs Scott! - very nice craftsmanship!
 

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Joined
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641 Posts
Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





Great blog Scott! I found it very informative. I know who to hassle with questions now when I do a project of this type. ;)
 

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Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





Very nice work.
 

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Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





Great job Scott!
 

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Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





Awesome job Scott!.. I have been searching for days on some inspiration for how to replace/refinish a wobbley set of basement stairs and you just gave it to me!

A couple of questions for you if you dont mind:
1. It looks like the endgrain of the risers is exposed, did you just sand this down and let the HO finish them?
2. For the nosing on the side of the treads, did you just route the ends of the tread itself or did you cap them? I am looking to just route the ends/sides of the treads but have not seen this done before.
3. Do you have any photos of the top of the stairs?

I know this post is from a while ago so any info would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Oak Stairs

What a week for new experiences and big projects. While my nights were spent toiling on the Thorsen Table… and trying new things, the day job had me wrapping my mind around several new things as well.



The last basement dad and I refinished (sub contracting for Owens Corning) included perhaps the pinnacle of woodworking projects - redoing the stairs. Ripping off the 2×8 treads and replacing those with oak, adding oak risers, newel post, railing and 52 spindles.



The double 2×4 railings were the first to go, followed by the treads so we could scribe a new stringer (pre-primed) to cover the warped and out of square stringers built back in the 80's. I would have loved to rip down the stringers and put up new ones, but that wasn't part of the job, plus the homeowner already had the floor tiled, and the tiles were cut around any and all obstacles previously in place.



I've done rails and spindles before. Normally we'd build a knee wall and the spindles would rise out of the diagonal top of the kneewall. Once the spacing is figured out, it's easy (though meticulous) to plot out where the spindles go, and all things being equal, the spacing on the railing is identical (on center).



I cut my own facegrain plugs to better blend in and hide the screws to hold down the treads. The oak end grain ones on sale at the big box looked horrible by comparison. I intended to nail them down, but the 22 authors of that same book recommended screws for squeak free stairs. One described a method for using screws and glue blocks from beneath, but without enough experience, or pictures to go by, I didn't quite follow.



The homeowner preferred that we keep the area below the stairs open, a kneewall was definately out. The spindles would have to come out of the treads. This I've never done before. I have done railings and spindles on both sides of a staircase, so I know how to work equal and level on both sides of a staircase, even though sometimes the floors are way out of level, though I've never more than 12 spindles (six steps).



The spindles on my stairs at home rise out of the treads, so I had a model to study. Would have been easy to replicate if all the stairs were equal, but after 20 years of settling, (and less than perfect install on basement stairs), some were quite off. Some of the stairs were nearly an inch off of the adjoining tread. I did my best to minimize this, and ended up with no more variation (if any) than 3/16th over the course of the spindles if at all. From what I've read in a Taunton press book on stairbuilding, this is an acceptable amount.



Unfortunately, there were 6 lolly columns on both sides of the stairs, these were wrapped in oak pole wraps, but they do interfere with the stairs a bit. We'd have liked to have built a wider bottom step, but that wasn't practical in this case.



As for being instructed to not build under the stairs, we encased the underside, and existing support with drywall, (the homeowner has painted this to match the ceiling texture). The homeowner stained and poly'd the treads, (and all the oak for that matter) before we installed the spindles, which turned out to be a big help - I thought it'd be a pain having to be extra careful, but making my marks on painters tape (besides pencil erases right off poly, super easy)



As the stair sides are visible on both sides, we couldn't use the stock treads from The Big Box with the custom mitered side pieces. The oak treads were routed on both edges by me. I got good at routing and climbcutting to avoid tearout (and having to re-rout the front bullnose.

The routertable proved invaluable for this. My first attempt going freehand (with a bearing bit) was less than perfect, I had a heck of a time holding it steady as the locking lever kept coming loose. This was my first project with my router, the one which required me to Mac it out.



Despite being a little nervous, I knew I'd be able to pull off this project. It was pretty much given to me as, oh by the way….
The homeowner was really excited to get her basement redone, and was spending good money to turn her basement into a great place to kick back and relax. She also stated repeatedly that she was so excited to see the stairs all finished. Ok, this was going to be her favorite part of the room, the central showpiece of the space. No pressure.

When all is said and done, she was very happy with how they (and the rest of the basement) came out - beyond her expectations. Personally, I'm thrilled with the stairs, and as long as she doesn't read this, she'll never know (neither will the project manager) that it was the first time I've ever attempted such a project. Because I ain't gonna tell them and they'd never suspect!

Oh, I just got the Before pix:





@EdoT

If memory serves, (and it sometimes does)...
#1. The end grain is not exposed. I attached a thin strip of oak to hide the end grain (and likely overlap the pre-prime just enough to clean up the joint. Either from the millwork at the BORG, or ripped the strips myself from the cutoffs. The risers in my house were mitered to meet the stringers perfectly (oak to oak) but the 2×12s under the pre-prime were so out to lunch (neither level or plumb) that this seemed like the best plan - and the homeowner was very happy with how they looked - and finishing them herself.

#2 The nosing was added on. But I have also routed the end grain on other stairs. You can also buy treads with one side mitered and cut to accept a 5 sided piece - a nosing strip that comes to a 45 degree point, allowing for a edge grain match on the front and one side of the tread. I think that is the best looking option, certainly not the cheapest, and only good if one side is tight to the wall, not out in the open like here. Sure you could make them yourself that way… wasn't an option for me then, and I'd still try not to (though I have more confidence that I could) now.

#3… sorry, that seems to be the best of the bunch. Nothing looking down the stairs in iPhoto. Funny that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
disproving old adages

at a nearly glacial pace.

Back when I had an office job in the "9-5" world, I got tons done around the house on the weekends and during "vacations." stripped and painted trim, redid floors, replaced; windows, doors, siding, rotted sills along the foundation as well as started and/or completed lots of other projects that helped me build the skills and confidence to leap into the blue collar world of making other homes nicer.

Nearly two years ago, right before I traded in my software for real hardware, I replaced the windows in the Master bedroom (with ones that actually open!). The windows went in without much of a hitch (or as few as possible considering the age of the house, and I remember finishing the outside trim, and/or replacing some clapboards during a beautiful September week - my first week with Dad.

I must have lost all my tools or ambition ever since. They say that the cobblers kids go barefoot - and, the carpenters home is never done. (Lots started, but never finished. Ever.) How I foolishly thought I'd get so much done on my own house. Back when my Uncle was out building homes on Nantucket, he had a crew at home working on his, and he couldn't bear the sight, or thought of "clocking-in' at home come suppertime (or Saturday).

The interior trim just didn't happen. I was going to stain some poplar to look like cherry to match our bedroom set - just as soon as I found that old Fine Woodworking article that explained which combination of dyes to use and where to get them.

Meanwhile a pair of tacked up curtains fit the bill. A year went by, we just stopped noticing all the abandoned projects around the house, in addition to the missing window trim in the MBR. I still needed to repair the plaster around the windows a bit, or maybe I could just install really wide trim. Almost another year went by.

In this time the room was painted - we decided on a rich dark chocolate color for the walls, and a "vanilla" for the trim. I'm normally opposed to painting wood, but after seeing how nice my daughters room came out, I agreed we could paint the trim. Not that I got right to it. Too many other projects, and life, kept getting in the way. I can't even think of how many projects were started these past two years. Besideswhich, in this economy, If I didn't have the materials on hand, it just was going to have to wait until I could afford or scrounge them.

And wait it did. Over time, I'd been able to salvage some usable offcuts of pre-primed 1x. I love keeping stuff out of the landfill, so to that end, I've become smart about mapping out my cuts to leave the longest possible pieces left over. Now, in addition to a pile of pieces fit for little more than birdhouses (millions of birdhouses), I slowly collected enough to finally take care of the MBR! Which I ripped, cut, sanded and installed (including the curtains) in less than 2 hours.

I'm glad this is finally done, and off The List! (and before dinner to boot!)

Well,... I do still have to break out the paint, and still do a little wall repair in a couple places as the new windows were a tad smaller than the original ones. But I think I can get to it in less than two years…

now maybe there's some hope for the cobblers kids getting some shoes.
 

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disproving old adages

at a nearly glacial pace.

Back when I had an office job in the "9-5" world, I got tons done around the house on the weekends and during "vacations." stripped and painted trim, redid floors, replaced; windows, doors, siding, rotted sills along the foundation as well as started and/or completed lots of other projects that helped me build the skills and confidence to leap into the blue collar world of making other homes nicer.

Nearly two years ago, right before I traded in my software for real hardware, I replaced the windows in the Master bedroom (with ones that actually open!). The windows went in without much of a hitch (or as few as possible considering the age of the house, and I remember finishing the outside trim, and/or replacing some clapboards during a beautiful September week - my first week with Dad.

I must have lost all my tools or ambition ever since. They say that the cobblers kids go barefoot - and, the carpenters home is never done. (Lots started, but never finished. Ever.) How I foolishly thought I'd get so much done on my own house. Back when my Uncle was out building homes on Nantucket, he had a crew at home working on his, and he couldn't bear the sight, or thought of "clocking-in' at home come suppertime (or Saturday).

The interior trim just didn't happen. I was going to stain some poplar to look like cherry to match our bedroom set - just as soon as I found that old Fine Woodworking article that explained which combination of dyes to use and where to get them.

Meanwhile a pair of tacked up curtains fit the bill. A year went by, we just stopped noticing all the abandoned projects around the house, in addition to the missing window trim in the MBR. I still needed to repair the plaster around the windows a bit, or maybe I could just install really wide trim. Almost another year went by.

In this time the room was painted - we decided on a rich dark chocolate color for the walls, and a "vanilla" for the trim. I'm normally opposed to painting wood, but after seeing how nice my daughters room came out, I agreed we could paint the trim. Not that I got right to it. Too many other projects, and life, kept getting in the way. I can't even think of how many projects were started these past two years. Besideswhich, in this economy, If I didn't have the materials on hand, it just was going to have to wait until I could afford or scrounge them.

And wait it did. Over time, I'd been able to salvage some usable offcuts of pre-primed 1x. I love keeping stuff out of the landfill, so to that end, I've become smart about mapping out my cuts to leave the longest possible pieces left over. Now, in addition to a pile of pieces fit for little more than birdhouses (millions of birdhouses), I slowly collected enough to finally take care of the MBR! Which I ripped, cut, sanded and installed (including the curtains) in less than 2 hours.

I'm glad this is finally done, and off The List! (and before dinner to boot!)

Well,... I do still have to break out the paint, and still do a little wall repair in a couple places as the new windows were a tad smaller than the original ones. But I think I can get to it in less than two years…

now maybe there's some hope for the cobblers kids getting some shoes.
I think, if we all are honest enough with ourselves, we can all admit to having projects of yesteryear. I could list a few just to warm up.

Congrats on knocking this out and now you'll have more time for those birdhouses…
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
disproving old adages

at a nearly glacial pace.

Back when I had an office job in the "9-5" world, I got tons done around the house on the weekends and during "vacations." stripped and painted trim, redid floors, replaced; windows, doors, siding, rotted sills along the foundation as well as started and/or completed lots of other projects that helped me build the skills and confidence to leap into the blue collar world of making other homes nicer.

Nearly two years ago, right before I traded in my software for real hardware, I replaced the windows in the Master bedroom (with ones that actually open!). The windows went in without much of a hitch (or as few as possible considering the age of the house, and I remember finishing the outside trim, and/or replacing some clapboards during a beautiful September week - my first week with Dad.

I must have lost all my tools or ambition ever since. They say that the cobblers kids go barefoot - and, the carpenters home is never done. (Lots started, but never finished. Ever.) How I foolishly thought I'd get so much done on my own house. Back when my Uncle was out building homes on Nantucket, he had a crew at home working on his, and he couldn't bear the sight, or thought of "clocking-in' at home come suppertime (or Saturday).

The interior trim just didn't happen. I was going to stain some poplar to look like cherry to match our bedroom set - just as soon as I found that old Fine Woodworking article that explained which combination of dyes to use and where to get them.

Meanwhile a pair of tacked up curtains fit the bill. A year went by, we just stopped noticing all the abandoned projects around the house, in addition to the missing window trim in the MBR. I still needed to repair the plaster around the windows a bit, or maybe I could just install really wide trim. Almost another year went by.

In this time the room was painted - we decided on a rich dark chocolate color for the walls, and a "vanilla" for the trim. I'm normally opposed to painting wood, but after seeing how nice my daughters room came out, I agreed we could paint the trim. Not that I got right to it. Too many other projects, and life, kept getting in the way. I can't even think of how many projects were started these past two years. Besideswhich, in this economy, If I didn't have the materials on hand, it just was going to have to wait until I could afford or scrounge them.

And wait it did. Over time, I'd been able to salvage some usable offcuts of pre-primed 1x. I love keeping stuff out of the landfill, so to that end, I've become smart about mapping out my cuts to leave the longest possible pieces left over. Now, in addition to a pile of pieces fit for little more than birdhouses (millions of birdhouses), I slowly collected enough to finally take care of the MBR! Which I ripped, cut, sanded and installed (including the curtains) in less than 2 hours.

I'm glad this is finally done, and off The List! (and before dinner to boot!)

Well,... I do still have to break out the paint, and still do a little wall repair in a couple places as the new windows were a tad smaller than the original ones. But I think I can get to it in less than two years…

now maybe there's some hope for the cobblers kids getting some shoes.
yep, gonna make, or rather prep, a big pile of birdhouses. Can I make those if they aren't even on the list?
 
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