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Thread: Sneaking up on it

  1. #1

    Sneaking up on it

    When I do short production runs like these stair treads I generally try to do as little fitting as possible, relying on good stock prep and accurate machine settings to allow cutting multiple parts to size that mate properly without fussing around. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way and painstaking incremental steps have to be worked through for a good result.DSC_0598.jpg

    These treads are 4" x 13" x 53" lock mitered boxes, 16 of which have mitered end grain endcaps. The material is unfinished "engineered" flooring with a 1/4" white oak veneer on a 1/2" veneer core ply substrate that appears to be Baltic Birch. It matches the prefinished flooring on site and the assembled treads will be shipped to the mfr's facility to be finished with a 2k poly over whitewash. The trick is that the treads are to be delivered to the site with a dry-fitted bottom so that the upper part can be scribed to a wall, slipped onto a steel tube projecting from the wall, secured with bolts through the structural tube to the balusters and finally glued to its prefinished mate.DSC_0612.jpg
    The material was problematic from the start- something about the manufacturing process caused all the 25/32" x 7 1/2" x 60" blanks to be significantly bowed, on the order of 1/4" and some very stiff in deflection, also cupped slightly. Wide belt sanding took most of the cup out but not all. I wound up kerfing all the material halfway through on 3" centers to make the subsequent machining and assembly a bit easier, but some of the pieces were still quite stiff. Putting the lock miters together took some persuasion. The pieces were beveled on one end and the crosscuts carefully checked and trued up with a block plane and sanding block before gluing up the top and sides with the ends aligned.DSC_0599.jpg

    The end caps were made of 1/32" thick endgrain laid up on 3/4" PlumaplyHD, veneer core ply with hardboard faces. Needless to say the short endgrain undercut by a 45 degree bevel all around was fragile. The fits had to be close to perfect and despite the care taken with preparing the beveled surfaces simply sawing out 16 beveled rectangles the same size was not going to give the required results. The lengths and widths were dialed in using flip stops and shims on a modified Fritz and Frans jig on a sliding table saw. Cuts that would exit on a finished edge were stopped before the end and sanded out to prevent spelching. The fits were customised using a 12" disc sander and 80# hard block. The caps were glued up with epoxy and packing tape.DSC_0603.jpgDSC_0601.jpgDSC_0609.jpgDSC_0608.jpgDSC_0615.jpg
    Last edited by Kevin Jenness; 05-19-2021 at 10:39 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Ouray Colorado
    Posts
    1,048
    Hi Kevin,
    Thanks for posting that. I have done a couple 4” thick tread projects and can feel your pain. I like the idea of using the engineered flooring but the cupping would be a issue. Last one I did was in a house with a lot of walnut veneered cabinetry. They wanted treads to match. Thinking thin veneer not a good idea for treads we laid solid up around that thick LVL type Pollmeier product thinking it would have a little movement to match the solid. Risky business but no call backs yet! I like your end grain cap. Hard to find that thickness of material in my neck of the woods. I did a waterfall edge on the ends.

  3. #3
    Joe, it was a learning experience. I like to think I have good days and learning days but this one stretched over several weeks. It got dumped in my lap as a t&m project, I'm glad I didn't bid it.

    The end grain veneer came in round log sections .037" thick including a scrim backing.

  4. #4
    fiddly work for sure, ive done stuff in solid lots of low production runs of stuff over the years. I dont get how they do that with sharp edges. Any stuff ive done in solid is all rounded and will wear well. Sharp edge and veneer, how does that last with miles on it?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Arlington, TX
    Posts
    429
    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Lake View Post
    fiddly work for sure, ive done stuff in solid lots of low production runs of stuff over the years. I dont get how they do that with sharp edges. Any stuff ive done in solid is all rounded and will wear well. Sharp edge and veneer, how does that last with miles on it?
    When the "veneer" is 1/4" thick, it helps...

    -- Andy - Arlington TX

  6. #6
    The wear surfaces have a 1/4" thick layer of oak and a 1/16" roundover, so they should fare ok. The thin layer of endgrain on the endcaps is outside the baluster line and should see little wear.
    Last edited by Kevin Jenness; 05-20-2021 at 7:02 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Ouray Colorado
    Posts
    1,048
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    Joe, it was a learning experience. I like to think I have good days and learning days but this one stretched over several weeks. It got dumped in my lap as a t&m project, I'm glad I didn't bid it.

    The end grain veneer came in round log sections .037" thick including a scrim backing.
    Kevin, the 2 projects we did were T&M also. I was surprised at how expensive they turned out. Especially the walnut as the designer did not want to see any pin knots or natural defects. I was approached by another customer that wanted a bid. I priced it and scared them off!

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