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Thread: How to cut this stair tread? Advice needed

  1. #1

    How to cut this stair tread? Advice needed

    Hello all,

    I have been remodeling my stair case for the past few months, and thanks to all the help I received in this forum, I am finally tackling my last stair tread. It is the bottom most step and it has a challenging shape. It has a rounded front and sides, but the walls on the sides are making it hard to deal with. At this point I was able to cut the tread to fit snug against the riser and 2 sides and I am about to cut the front edge.

    But here is the problem, once I cut the cut front edge, I will have to run it thru my router to make the bullnose (1/2 round bit). The 2 sides have a tiny wedge sticking out that I am afraid will break when the router hits it. My question is: how would you shape the front edge before making the bullnose?

    The easiest thing to do would be cutting flush where it meets the wall (trim out that rounded corner). But isn't it somewhat ugly to have a small sharp edge on the ends?

    On the pictures the line close to the pencil is where the riser meets the tread. The other line is the edge of tread (1 1/4" apart). The pencil gives you an idea of size. Note, the walls have rounded corners (look at the baseboard).

    Thanks much. Hopefully this is my last post before the reveal
    Joe

    IMG_8237.jpgIMG_8236.jpgIMG_8202.jpgIMG_8233.jpgIMG_8232.jpg
    Last edited by joe webb; 09-29-2019 at 6:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    507
    You could use the router for most of the edge and then rasps, files and sand paper for the ends. You still need to be careful if the grain does not run parallel to the edge.
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

  3. #3
    Or I can bend the curve more. Like this:
    IMG_8239_JPG.jpg
    Last edited by joe webb; 09-29-2019 at 6:48 PM.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by David Utterback View Post
    You could use the router for most of the edge and then rasps, files and sand paper for the ends. You still need to be careful if the grain does not run parallel to the edge.
    Given we have to feed the wood into the router's blade in specific direction, how does it work if that happens to be against the grain?

    Previously with another piece, there were lots of kick backs. I had to shave it bit by bit. Each takes a very thin layer.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Have you considered doing an applied front edge so you can eliminate the need to shape the larger, unwieldy part? If you choose your material carefully and use Type II or Type III PVA glue, there should be no joint line and you avoid issues with the "points" you mention getting whacked by the machine. Alternatively, cut the bullnose before you cut those other arcs on the sides so you have more material there when running though the shaper. Template it out and you should be fine.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Utterback View Post
    You could use the router for most of the edge and then rasps, files and sand paper for the ends. You still need to be careful if the grain does not run parallel to the edge.
    This is probably your safest bet. You might consider making a pattern with some MDF once you cut and sand that front edge just in case things donít go as planed. It really sucks going back to square one with these kinds of things.

  7. #7
    I did a template with 1/4" plywood first, before cutting the tread. The template was fitting really well, but for some reason (may be I am not getting it), transferring the template to the tread never gives me 100% accuracy. What I have been doing is trace the template to the tread, then cut the tread but at 1/8" from the line, then dry fit, and use a sander to make adjustments. In most cases, when looking at the final tread, it does not match the traced template.

    That's why, in this case, I cut the the back and curved sides first, get it to fit, then I traced the front curve based on the position of the riser. If I was more confident in my templates, I would have done what Jim suggested which is the bullnose first. I usually do that on the easy rectangular treads.

    It was a real challenge to cut the template in the first place. A slight movement creates a big gap in some area.

    But at this point, I have a large tread with 3 sides cut, fitting is good, and now need to do the front. And I have no extra tread :-O

    Wish me luck
    Last edited by joe webb; 09-30-2019 at 1:48 AM.

  8. #8
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    How about doing it the old fashioned way with hand planes, other hand tools and the 80 grit gouge? You can get a pretty good and consistent radius by working with bevels, halving the size with each pass. Many guitar makers use this technique to do the backs of guitar necks. For a one-off piece that's the bottom tread, any tiny deviations in profile are not going to get notices and you can have great control where the wood gets thinner.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
    Thank you all for taking time to reply. It turned out really well. As suggested, I ran the tread thru the router and stopped 1" short from both ends. I sanded down the remaining and it looks just right.

    All said and done, I think I am more accurate with a machine than doing thing manually :-D

    Now the easy part, staining, poly, and glue the tread down.

  10. #10
    Actually, I spoke too soon. I forgot I have one more thing to do to complete the stairs. I have a hand rail that curves around the wall (180 degree turn) that I need to sand down and stain to match the stair treads color. Given the shape and the length of it, I am not comfortable in removing it and I would rather do everything in place. In hindsight, it would have been less messy to do this before installing the new treads.

    Question: what is the best way to sand and stain in place? I have an RO sander and a Dremel with a sanding attachment, but the side facing wall is rather challenging as the tools won't be able to squeeze in.

  11. #11
    I would do it in place, you are not going to come up with a better way to hold it right side up. Opinion piece : I think
    the railings should always be dark colored,and it's the traditional thing. Makes the rail look like one sculpted piece.
    Never been able to "see the beautiful wood" of something made of strips or lots of pieces. And over time the strips often move a little and
    and make the strips obvious. Matching rail and floor color is a modern idea.
    Last edited by Mel Fulks; 10-17-2019 at 8:03 PM.

  12. #12
    Joe, I see now that I answered a different question. Sorry. If the shape is a simple modern "bread loaf " I would use
    scrapers and sanding by hand. If it is the old type with serpentine top and moulded sides any tear outs might be
    repaired easier with a purpose made profiled scraper or two.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Winston Salem, NC
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    111
    foam sanding block, either buy one that is "specifically" a foam sanding block, or take a Car wash sponge and cut it into sections, and use it with strips of your favorite sandpaper. This is nothing but elbow grease level work.

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    I like the idea of flaring the ends out slightly, it will give you a little more "meat" so it won't look so delicate.
    Richard

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