Monday, April 15, 2013

0 Attacking the Stairs

Let me begin by saying I didn't take this project lightly.  I spent the last year weighing the options, going back and forth between solid stair treads and casing in the wood we have, whether to wrap the ends or box it in with side boards, what kind of railing to do (still working on that one), etc.  I finally made the decision on Sunday.  We'd already purchased the stair nose, and at at $80/piece and no refund/returns, I figured I might as well give it a shot.

With stair nose, when measuring, you have to mark that where the lip hits the back of the stair, and that the 45° angle you cut crosses over that mark.  If you mark it at the end, you'll end up to short, since the nose needs to extend past the end of the stair.  I forgot this piece of information on my first pass-through and ended up with a wasted piece of wood.  THIS is why I didn't want to do the counter tops.

However, once I got rolling, and got the first stair done, I was more confident that I could do the rest.  I started by cutting the 6' nose into three pieces - one to fit along the front and two to return back on either side of the stair, creating a box in which to house the boards.  In order to make sure I got the right length, I used a protractor to draw a line along the board, crossing over the mark, threw it up on the miter saw and made my cut, making sure to add a little bit - better to cut it too long than too short.  I then laid the boards out, first two rows deep so I could mark the ends to cut to fit, and then one row at the front so I could mark the back row to rip on the table saw.  No two stairs were exactly the same, so I made sure to always measure twice, cut once, as is the standard.

For assembly, I threw down some construction adhesive and used the brad nailer to throw some 1 1/4" brads in to hold them down.  I started with the left nose, added the back row, front row, front nose and right nose.  Since these are tongue and groove boards, and it had to be tight against the back, it had to be in that order.  I face-nailed the noses, but replicated the flooring nailer when it came to the boards - at an angle, right above the tongue.

There were a few gaps and a few misalignments from the stairs not being totally square to begin with, but I can fill them in with either wood filler, or as our carpenter friend Jeremy suggested, some wood glue and sawdust - I've got plenty of it!

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