Family Home

Rebuilt the Stairs

On Good Friday I decided to start the rebuilding of the stairs in the house.  The old stairs were made of popular / pine and were stained black.  When we moved into the house, I had the carpet guys just cover them when the carpet was being installed in the family room.  I knew I was going to rebuild the stairs at some point.  After 17 years in the house, the time had come to tackle the project.  We wanted to tear up the carpet in the family room and put down a hardwood floor.  In doing that, The stairs really needed to be replaced first, so the new hardwood floor could be set up against them.

The photo above is  taken from the garage looking into the family room.  For two weeks Cathy kept referencing the hole that I put into the house.  Usually with these projects I take more photos, but for whatever reason with this project I didn’t.  I tried to find a photo of the old stairs so I could show everyone how ugly there were, but alas no such photo exists.

I made the new stairs from solid red oak.  The stringers, risers, treads and all the wedges are made from red oak.  After doing some research on the best method to build them, I decided to route the stringers so the treads and risers are recessed into the stringers.  I spent the better part of a day creating my templates for routing the stringers.  Here is a photo of one of the oak stringers.  I had just routed only the treads in the board.  Right next to the oak stringer I have my pine practice board.

It took me two days to route out both stringers!  I ended up destroying 5 router bits in the process.  I also ended up destroying a stringer and had to spend $100 to fix my mistake.  With the wrecked stringer, as I laid out the treads, I mistakenly allowed a 1/16″ of an inch error to creep into the layout for each tread.  By the time I had the 14 treads routed, I was off a full inch at the bottom.  Each stringer is 5/4″ thick by 10″ wide and 16 feet long.  The treads are also 5/4″ thick.  The risers are 3/4″ thick.

With the stringers routed out, the treads and risers are held tightly in by a wood wedge.  The wood wedges account for the slight variations in wood thickness.  Even though all the treads are 5/4″ thick, by the time they are planed and sanded, there can be 1/32″ difference in the thickness of the treads.  That difference would allow a gap to occur and cause the stairs to squeak.  The preferred method uses the wedges to tighten the treads and risers and allow no gaps to occur.

Overall I spent 8 days building the new stairs.  That includes fixing & painting the sheetrock and putting on 3 coats of urethane.

The new stairs are so much more solid than the old ones.  Plus they look great.

Now I have to lay the hardwood floor in the family room.

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