Staircase questions - lots of them - Page 2 - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #21 of 36 Old 02-09-2013, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by maniac
All,

Thank you for your advice. I feel a lot more confident going into this that just a week ago. But once again, I have a few more questions...

1. I looked for stair treads. I want unfinished hard maple. I see some places sell "retreads" which are used for putting on top of Plywooded stairs after carpet was removed. The difference from standard treads is that they are thinner, like 5/8 or 3/4. They come with front bullnose and optionally right, left, or both returns. But it seems to me that I could make these treads myself from clear 3/4 stock. Is there anything special about the ones you would buy that can't be duplicated given one has: table saw, jointer, planer, glue and clamps? I have quite a pile of leftover maple flooring and it seems like I should be able to make my own treads from it, no?

2. I probably will use some CA between treads and sub-treads, not so much as a glue, but as a gap filler to eliminate any sponginess that could also lead to squeaks. I will probably leave the tops of the risers cut square and be sure the treads make full contact with them. Then screw down the tread to the riser and Plug holes. But the joint where theback of the tread meets the riser has me concerned. Because of the sub-treads and risers blocking access, I can't screw the tread and riser together. And if I leave just a butt joint it seems most likely to be the source of a squeak, especially given the use of thinner treads with more flex. So my proposal is to cut a rabbet on the bottom of the back edge of the tread so the top edge becomes a tongue, and to cut a groove into the riser to receive that tongue. When being installed, I would glue that joint. Does this sound reasonable?

3. Now about railing. I plan to make my own railing and would really like to use Doug fir, for aesthetic reasons. Any reasons why this would be a bad choice? I'm thinking that splintering on handrail or tendancy to twist and wind. My local lumber yard has some really nice CVG Fir so I would think it would be stable. Will the fir hold onto a finish like poly or shellac?

Once again thanks,

Ken

BTW, I ran across a document from a stair company that has a lot of step by step directions on installing treads, risers, and skirts. It includes the directions for making and using that U-shaped board for marking out the miter joints on the skirts. If anyone wants that, let me know and I'll post the URL.
Get yourself a 3' crowbar and tear the whole thing out down to the stringers and start from there . I guarantee it will save you a ton of time and a lot of headache's and you will end up with a far better job.
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post #22 of 36 Old 02-10-2013, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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Tearing out the whole thing down to the stringers doesn't seem to accomplish all that much. In fact the "everything" referred to would be the sub-risers and sub-treads only. If I did that, then I'd have to pack the stringers out or buy 1 1/2 thick treads and risers. If I went further and removed the stringers too, then I need to re sheetrock and also remove/replace wiring that is used to light the stairwell underneath. I suppose if I did, then I would have access to be able use screws for the joint at the back of the tread, but I'm guessing that a glued tongue and groove joint would be superior anyway.

So, does anyone have comments on my 3 questions, particularly gluing up my own treads?

Thanks,

Ken
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post #23 of 36 Old 02-10-2013, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by maniac
Tearing out the whole thing down to the stringers doesn't seem to accomplish all that much. In fact the "everything" referred to would be the sub-risers and sub-treads only. If I did that, then I'd have to pack the stringers out or buy 1 1/2 thick treads and risers. If I went further and removed the stringers too, then I need to re sheetrock and also remove/replace wiring that is used to light the stairwell underneath. I suppose if I did, then I would have access to be able use screws for the joint at the back of the tread, but I'm guessing that a glued tongue and groove joint would be superior anyway.

So, does anyone have comments on my 3 questions, particularly gluing up my own treads?

Thanks,

Ken
You tear out the old risers , skirts and treads and leave the stringers , them start from there. It's not that hard. Once you fit your risers to your skirts you can then fit the treads and screw them from behind. Making a very strong connection. You can't do that by building over sub risers and treads. This means , less movement and no squeaks. I use PL Premium everywhere and never had a problem with it. PL is very strong but never dried very hard , glues that dry hard will eventually break down and crumble over time.
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post #24 of 36 Old 02-10-2013, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by maniac View Post
Tearing out the whole thing down to the stringers doesn't seem to accomplish all that much. In fact the "everything" referred to would be the sub-risers and sub-treads only. If I did that, then I'd have to pack the stringers out or buy 1 1/2 thick treads and risers. If I went further and removed the stringers too, then I need to re sheetrock and also remove/replace wiring that is used to light the stairwell underneath. I suppose if I did, then I would have access to be able use screws for the joint at the back of the tread, but I'm guessing that a glued tongue and groove joint would be superior anyway.

So, does anyone have comments on my 3 questions, particularly gluing up my own treads?

Thanks,

Ken
This just make me tired thinking about a complete tear out.

This is my thoughts about the tongue and grove, you would have to have everything dead level and plumb and square or it would give you a lot of grief trying to make everything work and keep tight joints. You can access the back of the riser from the top to put screws or nails into the back of the tread.

If you have temporary treads and risers that are going to stay in place, you could cut some holes in the back of the temporary risers to get to the back of the new riser to screw or nail into the back of the treads.

The one thing to think about leaving the old treads and risers in place, you will have a less superior set of stairs, a chance of squeaks, and more work doing a quality install. This may not be a firm rule but speaking from my experiences only. If I were to be presented a job with these circumstances of leaving the temporary treads and risers, I would turn it down, just to much trouble and a chance of call backs.

http://www.diychatroom.com/

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post #25 of 36 Old 02-10-2013, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by jiju1943

This just make me tired thinking about a complete tear out.

This is my thoughts about the tongue and grove, you would have to have everything dead level and plumb and square or it would give you a lot of grief trying to make everything work and keep tight joints. You can access the back of the riser from the top to put screws or nails into the back of the tread.

If you have temporary treads and risers that are going to stay in place, you could cut some holes in the back of the temporary risers to get to the back of the new riser to screw or nail into the back of the treads.

The one thing to think about leaving the old treads and risers in place, you will have a less superior set of stairs, a chance of squeaks, and more work doing a quality install. This may not be a firm rule but speaking from my experiences only. If I were to be presented a job with these circumstances of leaving the temporary treads and risers, I would turn it down, just to much trouble and a chance of call backs.
Building on top of the old treads will also increase your rise on the first step and decrease it on the top one by the thickness of the treads. It also looks pretty stupid. If anyone ever fell down the stairs their Lawyer would have a field day with you.
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post #26 of 36 Old 02-12-2013, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by maniac
Tearing out the whole thing down to the stringers doesn't seem to accomplish all that much. In fact the "everything" referred to would be the sub-risers and sub-treads only. If I did that, then I'd have to pack the stringers out or buy 1 1/2 thick treads and risers. If I went further and removed the stringers too, then I need to re sheetrock and also remove/replace wiring that is used to light the stairwell underneath. I suppose if I did, then I would have access to be able use screws for the joint at the back of the tread, but I'm guessing that a glued tongue and groove joint would be superior anyway.

So, does anyone have comments on my 3 questions, particularly gluing up my own treads?

Thanks,

Ken


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Tore these out this morning. It took about 40 minutes. From here on in it's like building a brand new set of stairs.
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post #27 of 36 Old 02-12-2013, 12:52 PM
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You should be able to cut a skirt to fit with the treads and risers gone, plenty of room to make a miscut. Are you planing to put a skirt on the outside of the open wall?

It looks like there is not much meat left in the cut out, you might want to check that.

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post #28 of 36 Old 02-12-2013, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by jiju1943
You should be able to cut a skirt to fit with the treads and risers gone, plenty of room to make a miscut. Are you planing to put a skirt on the outside of the open wall?

It looks like there is not much meat left in the cut out, you might want to check that.
I posted the picture to show how easy it was to tear the whole thing out and start from scratch. 40 minutes. Of course you still have get rid of the material. But i have a dumpster at the shop. So it isn't a problem for me.
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post #29 of 36 Old 02-12-2013, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by imdskydiver View Post
I posted the picture to show how easy it was to tear the whole thing out and start from scratch. 40 minutes. Of course you still have get rid of the material. But i have a dumpster at the shop. So it isn't a problem for me.
I am not sure you understand what I was referring to. The stringers are cut out of a 2X12 usually and some people use a 2X10 but that is getting a little weak for my taste.

When you do the cut out for a tread and riser out of the 2 X12, it leaves a certain thickness at the bottom of the stringer, if there is not enough wood left the stairs can be bouncy or weak.

Doing a tear out that quick is moving.

http://www.diychatroom.com/

BigJim

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post #30 of 36 Old 02-13-2013, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiju1943

I am not sure you understand what I was referring to. The stringers are cut out of a 2X12 usually and some people use a 2X10 but that is getting a little weak for my taste.

When you do the cut out for a tread and riser out of the 2 X12, it leaves a certain thickness at the bottom of the stringer, if there is not enough wood left the stairs can be bouncy or weak.

Doing a tear out that quick is moving.
If your stairway is freestanding then yes you need as much throat as possible. But of you have a more traditional set of stairs where one more stringers are nailed to the wall or maybe one side is open and supported by a wall underneath it then you really don't need your throat to be that deep, it's not going to move anyway. If the stairway is less than 4' in width you don't even need to nail it to the Center stringer. If a stairway is properly built it become like a truss system. The riser supports the tread which supports the next riser , same thing all the way to the top. The treads risers and skirts are all nailed , glued and screwed together. Essentially you build them the same as you would a housed set of stairs except without the housing. You have stringers on the outsides to replace that. Every thing else would be the same. If your smart you can hide all your nails so it even looks like a houses set.
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post #31 of 36 Old 02-13-2013, 09:32 PM
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I'm a custom stair builder and imdskydiver I believe is a production stair builder. I'd love to compare notes, I suspect there are many tips I could incorporate into the work I do.
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post #32 of 36 Old 02-14-2013, 08:38 AM
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I'm a custom stair builder and imdskydiver I believe is a production stair builder. I'd love to compare notes, I suspect there are many tips I could incorporate into the work I do.
I don't know what you mean by "production Stair builder" i don't work in a factory or anything like that. I build one set at a time.
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post #33 of 36 Old 02-14-2013, 10:16 AM
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No offence intended. i know a guy back east who has a production shop with about 50 guys working, learned some valuable information from him. Maybe I was thinking of someone else, are you the person who has made over 2000 stairs? As a small stair shop I will never see that many stairs.
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post #34 of 36 Old 02-14-2013, 10:48 AM
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No offence intended. i know a guy back east who has a production shop with about 50 guys working, learned some valuable information from him. Maybe I was thinking of someone else, are you the person who has made over 2000 stairs? As a small stair shop I will never see that many stairs.
I have been doing it for a long time . Ask my knees about it sometime. . It's me that has somewhere close to 2000 sets. It's just An estimate. I do about 80 to 100 per year depending on the complexity of the stairways and i do them all myself without any helpers. Each job is different but after a while they all seem the same.
2 things in life I hate are :
1. Going up
2 going down. And I mean stairways!
How many times ????
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post #35 of 36 Old 02-14-2013, 12:03 PM
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Maniac,
Doug fir is fine, especially cvg, for the handrail. You are already aware of the potential for splinters, so choose your pieces with that in mind. Sand well and watch for any lift up of grain. If you have any spots where that occurs, stop, inject some glue under it and secure it with wax paper and tape, or a block and clamp if it's larger. CVG has far less grain separation than flat sawn, so you'll likely be fine. As for finishes, yes, it will hold a finish such as polyurethane just fine. Same guidelines as any other wood, sanded and cleaned of dust. If you have a pitch pocket, then don't use that piece for handrail. End of that story.

As for making your own treads, no problem. You can joint and edge glue, or you can tongue and groove the slats. Just be sure your glue-ups are good. Using flooring for it? Well, you can, but it has its issues. Mainly, you have a series of grooves on the back side and any rip cuts made to fit the treads and risers to width will need to work around these grooves. Also, If you have an open side on your stairway, the edges of the flooring, complete with grooves, will be visible, unless you're attaching returns. But will you also then put returns on the risers? What about where the front edge of the tread rests on the top edge of the riser? Is there a groove there? In my opinion, using flooring for this type of tread and riser is more problem than it is worth.
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post #36 of 36 Old 02-19-2013, 10:35 PM
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I'm not getting into the "who's right" cause I don't build them as they do either........BUT I see a lot of good stair builders on this thread....mine are as Imdskydiver said.."if their build right their like a truss"...drive a bulldozer on them LOL.....I built a set of outdoor curved (pressure treated) 1/4 turn, full float 12 steps and accidently dropped a 300 lb beam from 10 ft above.. landed on it's end full wieght and bounced..wasn't sure I wanted to reopen my eyes at the disaster to be.....only to find it knocked the one step down a 1/4 inch.....it's all about knowing where to "drill the hole"(side joke).

Here's a few pics of a recent set. Completely tore out a corner landing, and 2 flights of unequal spaced mess of steps.

Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love,
Tim
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