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MikeG.

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Those of you who make stairs regularly.............could you tell me what you make the risers of if you are making solid timber stairs with all the wood on show? Oak risers and goings, for instance.....solid oak treads, obviously, but what about the risers?

Question 2. As anything made of oak gets seriously heavy quite quickly, how much of a straight flight do you permanently make up pre-delivery, and how much would you normally do in situ?

A supplementary question. Would you normally do the finishing on such a stair, and if so, what would you use?
 

Trevanion

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Answer 1: Mostly out of solid oak but I can't see any reason why you can't make the risers out of oak faced ply or even MDF if you wanted to go cheaper if you're trenching the treads and risers into the strings and you're covering the underneath of the stairs. If you're doing a cut staircase however I don't really think there's any way around using solid unless you pinned on mouldings etc... If you haven't thought about newel posts yet, I actually really like the Lathams Woodex 90x90mm Newel posts as there is machining to do on them at all, just trench them, mortice for a handrail and put a cap on top. They're 4 10mmish pieces mitred on the outside so that it looks like 1 single piece of timber for a post and then the inside is filled with offcuts of oak (Although I have come across chipboard in there while trenching before :shock:) If I get a chance I'll take a photo of the end of one to show what I mean.


Answer 2: Completely straight flight with no winders/kites? All in one go with the exception of the D-end step if there is one. It's heavy and awkward, simple as that really. You could take the staircase in kit form and assemble it next to the opening if it was easier, then all you have to do is lift it into the hole rather than transport it and trying to carry it into the house, etc.

Answer 3: Not normally, it's usually the painter and decorator job. The absolute best finish job I ever saw was Osmo Polyx Oil, absolutely dead smooth, lovely colour, bombproof. He still won't tell me his secret of applying it though :(

Once did a job putting a secondary 12 step straight flight staircase above an old one to go into the attic space, all solid oak and seriously heavy. It took 5 of us to get it up the first staircase which had a 90-degree turn in it which luckily had a pretty open landing so we managed to get it there with a bit of grunting. Then it took 3 of us to actually put the stairs in the hole, one on a ladder on the stairs underneath to take most of the weight, one on the landing to lift the bottom end of the stairs and push it along, another up in the attic to take the weight of the staircase off the guy on the ladder and handle it into position.

Looked like a right bunch of cowboys to be honest! :lol:
 

katellwood

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what sort of strings are you considering i.e. closed or cut.

If closed I now use 19mm veneered mdf like this:-

tread and riser.jpg


solid timber for the tread

Where the riser restricts movement of the tread on the leading edge and shrinkage of the tread can be managed on the back edge
 

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MikeG.

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Thanks Trevanion.

Yes, it's a cut string stair (well, one side is a cut string, the other against the wall is housed out). But it will have planted-on (and carved) mouldings, so I think I can do the risers in oak-faced ply. I just wanted to know if there was any good reason why I shouldn't.

I'll be making my own newels.
 

Trevanion

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Sorry for the delay, this is what a Woodex Newel post looks like in cross-section:



They're pretty good, far more stable than a 4"x4" post which you'd be mad to use anyway unless they were absolutely dead straight-grained, much better looking than two 2"x4" sections glues together, come in good lengths and also work out quite a bit cheaper once you factor the man-hours of machining up, gluing up, sanding up posts, etc.... I've got a router jig for routing out the recess for the caps which go on top of the newels which is a 110mm x 110mm cap with 45-degree chamfers top and bottom, just make a batch every so often out of 1" offcuts.

Of course, absolutely bloody useless if you're looking for turned posts! :lol:
 

MikeG.

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Yes, I'll be doing something like that. I've just got to dial back a bit on the design, as it has got just a bit too fancy......
 

Armagh

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Most stairs I fit use 13mm timber for the risers, might save you some weight. The newel posts, top riser and the half thread at the top have to be fitted on site.
 

MikeG.

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katellwood":ck4a0l2g said:
what sort of strings are you considering i.e. closed or cut.

If closed I now use 19mm veneered mdf like this:-



solid timber for the tread

Where the riser restricts movement of the tread on the leading edge and shrinkage of the tread can be managed on the back edge
If you are managing shrinkage across the tread at the back edge like this (as per a window board), does that imply that you don't fasten or glue the tread into the riser? I assume the answer to that is no, and that you glue and pin this junction, but I'm interested in your thoughts.
 

Trevanion

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MikeG.":sdneifx3 said:
If you are managing shrinkage across the tread at the back edge like this (as per a window board), does that imply that you don't fasten or glue the tread into the riser? I assume the answer to that is no, and that you glue and pin this junction, but I'm interested in your thoughts.
I actually just let the riser shoot past the back of the tread without any tongue or groove, just glue it and screw it to the back. Couldn't tell which way is better (probably katellwood's as it does allow for shrinkage of the thread, but if the riser moves you'll end up with a shadow gap anyway) but I've never had a problem doing it this way.
 

Jacob

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katellwood":3fbu1k54 said:
what sort of strings are you considering i.e. closed or cut.

If closed I now use 19mm veneered mdf like this:-



solid timber for the tread

Where the riser restricts movement of the tread on the leading edge and shrinkage of the tread can be managed on the back edge
Thats a very flimsy detail IMHO. Not much strength in MDF and given a shock the tread could break out the housing in the riser, or the riser just get kicked in. Better to put in a deeper tread and house the riser into that instead.
 

katellwood

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I think the issue of shrinkage is the nosing joint into the string opening up and showing a gap too the front. this is minimized by a tight groove for the riser on the underside of the tread and the securing wedges for the risers going as tight up to the underside of the tread as is possible (but not touching as this is likely to minimize their tightness/effectiveness)

Re the back of the tread. I have used Trevanions method on numerous occasions however the issue is that the tread width needs to be extremely accurate to the housing in the string. If the tread is slightly too wide then a gap will occur between the housing and riser, if the tread is slightly too narrow then a gap will form between the back of the tread and the riser (usually on the ends only as fixings will bend the riser too the tread.

I use the tongue and groove method with the groove slightly deeper then the tongue width and the shoulder of the tongue slightly less than the the width of the tread, this allows both of the above joints to become fully tight but a slight gap will be apparent between tread and riser on the underside.

Fixing this joint I do not glue but do screw but not over-tighten.

Beware though if using mdf or veneered mdf as the riser and with no fixings then with heavy use the bottom of the groove is likely to split out

hope this helps and you understand my ramblings

Cheers
 

MikeG.

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Thanks, that's useful. Of course, there's no reason that the riser couldn't be an inch or two deeper (taller), giving more strength under the groove. This overhang (or downstand) could be rough-cut out of the way to allow for the fitting of wedges.
 

katellwood

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Jacob":1m68n5ij said:
katellwood":1m68n5ij said:
what sort of strings are you considering i.e. closed or cut.

If closed I now use 19mm veneered mdf like this:-



solid timber for the tread

Where the riser restricts movement of the tread on the leading edge and shrinkage of the tread can be managed on the back edge
Thats a very flimsy detail IMHO. Not much strength in MDF and given a shock the tread could break out the housing in the riser, or the riser just get kicked in. Better to put in a deeper tread and house the riser into that instead.
That's an option however by securing/fixing both the front of the tread with the lower riser and fixing the back of the tread with the upper riser then any shrinkage is likely to result in a split tread. if you secure the rear riser in a rebate as opposed to a housing then shrinkage will possibly end up with a gap between both
 

Jacob

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Shrinkage - use dry wood? McKay shows the standard detail as above - riser housed into both treads. Can butted against a housed moulding under top tread. Can be butted without housing to the lower tread, with screws through to keep it in place but I don't think McKay would approve.
 

MikeG.

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Right, the cut-string side of the stair, and the all-important junction between the riser and the string. I am planning on something very similar to this (albeit with some carving):



A couple of questions. How is the riser fixed to the cut string? I can see no pins or plugs, so I am guessing it is just glued (clamping will be fun!). That's a weak glue joint, being end grain to long grain.

Secondly, I have seen the mitred junction between the riser and the planted-on piece open up unpleasantly on older stairs. Because of the moulding under the tread, I don't want a planted on moulding over this junction. I am thinking about dovetailing this join, rather than a mitre. Does anyone have any thoughts on that? One of the drivers for that is that the the riser is likely to be much thicker than the planted-on detail, which makes the mitre a sod (in my workshop, at least). The main reason, though, is to produce a joint which doesn't open up over time, and I don't trust a butted mitre.
 

katellwood

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funnily enough I'm starting this, this week out of AWO full-size rod drawn and curved formers made, picking up the timber Wednesday.



I wanted the client to opt for the brackets as fitting the mitres will be much easier however alas no so will have to cut mitres in the strings and risers

I intend to cut a short mitre the rest square then domino in the back of the riser and the string. The treads will be fixed with pocket screws from underneath then a scotia mould under the tread wrapping around the sides

Historically this is how this was done with the pockets being chiseled into the underside and holes drilled for the screws

Another option would be ply brackets on the inside between the tread and riser then screw through the ply into the back of the risers to fix
 

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MikeG.

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I've taken one or two of these stairs apart, and the treads were screwed directly from the top within the (dovetail) mortises for the ballusters. Wouldn't that be easier than pocket screws from below?
 
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