Stair treads

I've been mulling this one for a while and now 'er indoors has decided that we need to move on it(!)
Our stairs are a bit unusual in that they are hardwood and obviously designed to be a 'feature' of the open plan design of the house. As with any other feature, this comes with a penalty: In this case that the hardwood has been damaged over time (mostly by a previous owner hammering things into the sides etc), but also that the bare treads are pretty noisy, so were carpeted before we bought the place.
Now the carpet has worn, particularly at the edge of each tread, and one reason for this is that these are cut square, unlike the curved 'nose' that is normal in carpeted stairs. So I have a number of options, including taking the carpet off and leaving them bare (and noisy) or, preferred by SWMBO, replacing the carpet. There seems little point in replacing the carpet on a square edge, as it'll only wear again, but how can I put a bit of a curve there? I could run a router across but this won't make it to each end as the string (and the wall on one side) will mean this stops before the ends (taking the treads out would pretty much involve demolishing the house, so no mileage there). I guess a small radius would solve most of the wear problem without causing enormous stretch problems with the carpet but is there something else I can use, other than a router, that would allow me to form a radius all the way to the edge? A hand-tool based approach would seem unlikely, simply in terms of getting a good regular finish, and I'm not sure that an angle grinder, SDS drill or chain saw would necessarily do this job, before anyone suggests them.....
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Much as sanding is a poor way to do extensive shaping of wood, in this case using the router to take off what you can, followed by one of those random-orbit or dual-action sanders designed for fast material removal, sounds the pragmatic approach.
Get some dust extraction too.
This is a good beast - and I'm sure I paid quite a bit less than that on a trade stand:
http://www.axminster.co.uk/product-Metabo-SXE450-Turbo-Tec-Duo-Sander-PRO-Pack-780322.htm
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GMM wrote:

Beg, borrow or steal a laminate trimmer (such as Makita 3703) which doubles-up as a compact router (make sure it takes standard 1/4" router bits and make sure that the bit you use is rated for 30,000rpm). Use this to round over as much as you can, then sand the rest.
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Route the bit you can get at (chamfer/taper it out at each end (darn!...what's the correct expression?). Then fit a stair "runner" carpet up the middle of the treads leaving the unrouted edges of the treads clear - tidy up and "varnish" these edges as necess to match rest - assuming they are all hardwood it could look nice?
cheers jim
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In article

Fix a bull nose moulding to the front of each tread? That's how it was done here many many years ago.
--
*Who is this General Failure chap anyway - and why is he reading my HD? *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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GMM wrote:

I was going to suggest routing just the centre section and leaving 3" either side square - but Jim beat me to it. ;-)
I would have thought that would let you tart up the edges and have them on show (so you retain some of the benefit of the hardwood), while preventing the stair runner for wearing too fast. If you fix the runner with proper stair rods, then you can also shift it up or down periodically to stop it wearing too much on the nose in the first place.
--
Cheers,

John.

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A good few things to think about there - Thanks chaps!
Of course, one thing I didn't mention is that these stairs are open (no risers), and the treads sit slightly above the strings, which makes it all a little more complicated(!)
I guess if I route (that doesn't look right, but I guess that's what you do with a router!) as far as I can then get a carpet to fit that width (the shops seem to only want to sell cut carpet and the old-type stair runners), it should work.
Then it'll be a matter of how to tart the edges up - Looks like I'll be learning a lot about restoring hardwood in the near future.....
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GMM wrote:

Lol, you rout with a router ;-P
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So you do, but I'd say that rout is the funnier word, since the meanings include "snore, roar, belch, shout (at dogs), rush, stir vigorously, beat severely, herd, behave riotously, scour, ride over, poke about, rummage" (OED, which says router can also be used as the verb).
Routing for me definitely includes roaring (if I get it wrong).
--
Jón Fairbairn snipped-for-privacy@cl.cam.ac.uk
http://www.chaos.org.uk/~jf/Stuff-I-dont-want.html (updated 2009-01-31)
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GMM wrote:

Ah, you mean open or cut string as well as open riser?
A bit liek:
http://wiki.diyfaq.org.uk/index.php?title=Cut_String_Stairs

I suppose you could get some carpet tiles and cut one down for each tread. Use the hard floor to carpet starting bead around each edge of the tile (mitred at the corners).
--
Cheers,

John.

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John Rumm wrote:

What do you use to draw those really neat pictures John?
--
Dave - The Medway Handyman
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The Medway Handyman wrote:

Google sketchup - free download:
http://sketchup.google.com /
(a very good piece of software!)
--
Cheers,

John.

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Ahhh....now I know what to call them - Thanks John!
Just like everything in this house - a bit of a pain (I need to put a bannister on but the kit parts available don't really allow for this type of layout).
I think the overall feeling is to get a narrower carpet and not sweat the routing.
Asking here always puts a little focus into these plans - Thanks all !
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John Rumm wrote:

I got the impression from 'the treads sit slightly above the strings' that this type was meant: http://www.wiki.diyfaq.org.uk/index.php?title=Open_riser_stairs
Either way though, I'd thinking putting a layer of something on the treads then carpeting would be a lot less work - or adding nosings.
NT
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In article

I suggested adding nosings ages ago. It's the obvious way to do it - and reversible. But obviously doesn't suit the router boys. ;-)
--
Is the hardness of the butter proportional to the softness of the bread?*

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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People normally only walk up the centre of a staircase, so, if the sides of the treads look good enough as bare wood, you don't really need to cover more than about 2/3 of the width at the centre, which would overcome the problem of not being able to round off close to the sides.
Colin Bignell
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