Attaching stair treads ... How?

I'm about to embark on a rebuild of the stairway in my hall. As it is unlikely that I will be able to get at it from underneath, I plan on screwing thew treads in place and covering the screws with a tapered plug. This will be fairly visible (I can't see myself getting *that* anal about selecting as many upwards of 100 plugs of color and grain), but I can't think of a really good alternative.
Is there a traditional method? Is there a better way? I have a 3/8" tapered plug cutter with is good for a 10-size screw. Should I consider a 1/4" plug cutter and a trim head screw, or would that be too flimsy?.
I won't know if there are 2 or three stringgers until I pull it a apart. I plan to use 4 or 6 screws depending on the stringer count.
Thanks,
Steve
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Might find some experience in alt.home.repair also.
On Mon, 28 Jun 2004 08:39:41 -0400, "Stephen M"

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snipped-for-privacy@vcoms.net wrote:

I forget the title but there's a reprint of a late 1800s "treatise" on stair building that Woodcraft carries--very likely covers this issue in some detail.
For the extant problem, why not just use contrasting-color plugs so the mismatch says "I meant that" instead of "I was lazy"?

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If you're thinking of screwing them and plugging them then you must have cleats under the treads. If that's the case then why not glue and finish nail them. The finishing nails will be a lot easier to hide and it will be plenty strong enough when the glue dries.
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-Mike-
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Why? I would just screw into the stringers.

Although I had considered finish nails, I had not considered glue. Construction adhesive?
I'd be a little concerned about nail pops. I have that situation now. Should I look for a ring-shank nail? Or is that not really a concern?
Nails/glue would allow me to prefinish the treadswhich would be a significant convenience. I would follow with wax pencil to fill the holes.
-Steve

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I was automatically thinking of a stringer that was not cut for the riser and tread. My bad. No matter - if you have a surface to screw into, you have a surface to nail into. When I said "you must" above, I was speculating, not defining. Sorry for the confusion.

I'm not a huge believer in construction adhesive except to glue on light weight panels or to act to prevent squeeks in floors. For work like you're facing, I'd use a good wood glue - almost any of the yellow wood glues you'll find in your local hardware of DIY store will work fine for indoor applications.

Really? I'm quite surprised you have nail pops with finishing nails. Must have been some serious movement in your stairs. I'd still go ahead with finishing nails and glue. Angle the nails slightly and make sure you countersink them well. I would not look for any special nails - just drive them in properly and set them well. Like I said, drive them on a bit of an angle. If you think about it, the nails really aren't doing anything once you get a good glue bond. The glue is what really holds the joint together.

That is indeed a big advantage. Just make sure you don't prefinish the underside of the treads. You want raw wood for the glue surface. Wood glue will work with varnished surfaces, but not nearly as well as with raw wood. Not nearly. You want a good bond so that you don't end up with the joint loosening over time and squeaks developing.
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Since the stringers have the gring going diagonal to plumb, the tread surfaces will be end (ish) grain. That's why I would eschew wood glue. The floor in my shot is 3/4" T&G ply, glues and screwed. I recently had to get under there and cut out an access 16" square. That construction adhesive had a pretty good hold on the plywood.

Oh yeah. The house it 150 years old but I can't believe that these pine treads were original. They are in really bad shape, hense the rebuild.

Good point. I think I'll masking tape off the stringer positions and them back-finish for stability. I have glued up and planed the new treads (1" x 11.5" x 35"). I think I did a pretty good job of grain matching with minimal waste. I would hate to see them cup on me.
I plan to sort by color before installation so as to minimize the difference between adjacent treads.
I appreciate the input.
Steve

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I did mine (treads and risers) using pocket holes from the risers into the treads below. I also used yellow glue inbetween them, construction adhesive on the stringers, and pneumatic finish nails. Especially where I was going to apply moulding later on. I went with a traditional look. Three years later and no visible signs of movement or squeeks. I must say we used four stringers so that also helps. Just my 2 cents, not an expert opinion!
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On Mon, 28 Jun 2004 08:39:41 -0400, "Stephen M"

I'm supposing that your treads are not housed. If they are, you have some more thinking to do.
You can screw the tread to the horses back near the riser but in the front you will have to drill an oversized hole to allow for expansion and contraction of the wood.
It's not a big deal, just use a #12 screw counterbore bit for the front and stick a #8 screw in the hole, trying for the center. You might want to try turning the hole into a slot by running a straight bit in there and moving it from back to front a few times.
Don't use drywall screws, because they will snap when the wood moves. Use wood screws.
Don't use glue, because the wood needs to move.
Stick a bit of rosin paper over the horses before you put the tread on, to help eliminate squeaks. It also helps to wax your screws before you put them in.
If you can hand select your treads, try to buy those that are closest to quartersawn, so that they will be more stable.
For those that are not quartersawn, put them down bark side up, so that they will wear better.
Take the time to select treads that are not cupped and then put as much finish on the hidden part as you plan to put on the shown face, this will help keep them from cupping.
Regards, Tom.
Thomas J.Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.) tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
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