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.
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
For the extant problem, why not just use contrasting-color plugs so the
mismatch says "I meant that" instead of "I was lazy"?
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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.
Although I had considered finish nails, I had not considered glue.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
Thomas J.Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.)
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
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