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Is there an easier way?

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Forum topic by newwoodbutcher posted 1012 days ago 3662 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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newwoodbutcher

328 posts in 1433 days


1012 days ago

I’m replacing the carpet on my entry stairs with solid cherry hardwood. The stairs (built in 1970) are made out of 2×6, they are glued, screwed, solid and have no squeaks. But they are not square to the wall.

I’m adding what I think is called a skirt board on both sides of the stairway, one is built just like a stringer (saw tooth) and attached below the ends if the treads and risers on one end with no problem.

The other skirt board, on the opposite end, is attaching to existing drywall and has saw tooth cut outs (upside down stringers) to accommodate the steps. When dry fitting the treads against the skirt board there is an uneven gap between the end of the tread and the face of the skirt board on every step, it varies between 1/16” and 1/8” depending on which step you are looking at. Shimming behind the skirt board doesn’t solve the problem. What I’m thinking is that I have to scribe each tread to butt flush against the shirt board. There are 13 steps to do.

My plan is to scribe each tread to butt flush against the skirt board, attach each riser and stringer together with glue and finishing nails (from the back side) so each tread & riser is a right angle assembly and then screw the assembly to the 2×6 frame and plug the screw holes. Not only is that a lot of scribing/fitting, but I’m also concerned that I won’t be able to completely close the gap between the assembly (riser and stringer) and the skirt board in every case because of the out of square wall.
My question is, is there an easier/smarter way?

-- Ken


8 replies so far

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KayBee

998 posts in 1829 days


#1 posted 1012 days ago

I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re doing. But it’s been a long while since I built any stairs. About the gap between the wall and the stringer- put a piece of molding to cover the uneven gap. Then you can make everything else a square as possible. No scribing involved.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

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chrisstef

10233 posts in 1589 days


#2 posted 1012 days ago

Im gonna let the professionals chime in on this, i replaced some treds and risers once and i had one hell of a time doin it, but i was extremely green. The only advise that i would have for you is that once you’re done resist the urge to polish them with a product such as pledge. The slide and tumble down the stairs at 6:00 monday morning really sucks, dont ask me how i know.

The only thing i can think of is to run your tread flush to the wall and place you skirt board over the tread. I think you would be less likely to see a gap that way then by butting the tread against the skirt (as shown in pic 2). The top of the skirt board (just below the landing) would have to be cut and the bottom of the skit (which butts against the floor) would be shy by the thicikness of your tread.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

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Moron

4666 posts in 2476 days


#3 posted 1012 days ago

buy a “scribing tool”………..scribe to fit. If you bevel the underside (cut a 45 degree angle)……..you could use a belt sander/palm sander/block plane…….easy.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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ahock

102 posts in 1907 days


#4 posted 1012 days ago

Here’s the way that I do it, still in process but it’s worked for the 2 dozen or so that I’ve done so far. I originally found it in an old carpentry book. Before you put on the skirt, set, trim, and use double sided tape to temporarily hold them in place. All your treads and risers with the wall side of the treads and risers close but not perfect. Now take what will be your skirt board and set it in place, keep it straight, don’t adjust it to fit the wall. Now take a pencil and mark the front edge of each of your treads where the skirt board crosses it. Pull the skirt off. Now take your pencil and mark the underside of each tread where the riser hits it, in the same place as your last mark. Now pull your treads and notch out the corners of your treads (what you marked plus about an 1/8”-3/16” where the skirt will sit. Now you can install your treads (this is easiest if you have a mark or gauge that you are using for a consistent reveal on the other end). Take your skirt and tack it in place again. What you want to do is scribe your skirt so it sits perfectly on the top of the tread and perfectly to the front of your riser. Cut your skirt rough, bring it back in and re-scribe it for perfection. Do your final cut. When you go to seat your skirt board it will slip into the notches on the treads giving you a perfect joint at the riser and the tread. This allows the tread to expand and contract a little without binding in the skirt. I do it this way because to see any gap that may be there would only be possible if looking along one of the treads or risers, but not from above, the normal way that people will see them. Now that you have them in, install a piece trim over the top of the skirt board. This trim can flex to the wall and cover the gap between your skirt and the wall. Alternatively you could use backer rod and caulk (but I hate caulking). My first boss in construction always said “Do your best and caulk the rest.” I now run from that with all my passion.

-- Andy, PA ~Finding satisfaction in creation

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chrisstef

10233 posts in 1589 days


#5 posted 1012 days ago

You should make tshirts with that line Andy, im storing that one away for future injection of an awesome 1 liner.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2353 posts in 2020 days


#6 posted 1012 days ago

I’m not sure if I’ve got your issues correct but here goes.

This is a common problem but only where the tread meets the skirt board against the wall. Let’s look at the tread from open end, to skirt board. The open end will either be rounded off or a return put on it. No problem. The end on the skirt board will have to be scribed. Not a big issue if the other edges are not an issue.
Now, you can do the edge where the riser is, one of two ways. Either make a knotch in the riser that will fit the back of the tread that you’ve routed a rabbit in, or place the riser directly over the tread to hid the edge.

And to be perfectly honest, craftsman will often cut the skirtboard to fit around the stairs and tread but what a job that must be to get to it’s final fit. I’ve never done it.

I don’t know if this answers your questions or not. Just thought I’d try.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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Moron

4666 posts in 2476 days


#7 posted 1011 days ago

I’m doing six sets of stairs today and even worse, the nosing piece is solid oak, the balance is pre-finished engineered oak done like a hand hewn look…………means I have to make the nosing match the engineered hand hewn wood look.

I have trouble using small quarter round, be it outside or inside cove because to me, it always looks like its trying to hide bad joinery. Wood should fit like a finger in the bum….Tight. I use green painters tape where I scribe as its easier to see the line. First I cut the angle/scribe to the stringer, once its tight I scribe the line to the riser. If you are covering the riser then no scribing is needed as the riser can be done after the tread hiding the scribe lines and an inside cove can be used under the tread where riser meets tread under the nosing. This is typical of fancy stairs.

by back beveling the tread where tread meets riser on the under side, I onl;y have to scribe off a 1/16 plus minus and its real quick with a belt sander or block plane.

looking at the photo again………….cover the risers with 1/4” veneered plywood……..end of scribe. Add a bullnose to the long edge and return it around the tread where it hangs out past the stringer……..no scribing needed.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View newwoodbutcher's profile

newwoodbutcher

328 posts in 1433 days


#8 posted 1004 days ago

WOW! Thank you all for your input and the time you took to respond. I finished making the four skirt boards and bought the Fast Cap scribe pro and I’m starting to make the riserd and treads today.

-- Ken

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