Build Your Own Spiral Stairs – Finally, I’m here to report April and I finished building our wood spiral staircase. Over the course of five days, literally until the day before we left Dancing Rabbit, we installed risers and treads. The spiral staircase design comes from our dear Tom Cundiff, who guided us over the phone and in person during our last timber frame workshop. It took us a while to fully understand the layout and flow of things, but once we got the hang of the principles it was pretty easy. Well, the actual building was extremely physically taxing, but I got through it.
In our case, the central post of the ladder is a black locust, perhaps 10-12 inches in diameter at the base. Black locust, if you don’t already know, is an extremely hard and dark wood. This woodworking is not for the faint of heart. this boy
Build Your Own Spiral Stairs
Oh, and a note: about that railing (or lack thereof)… well, we didn’t have time to build the railing before the move, but the risers were left long enough to be designed and installed at an easier date. .
Residential Spiral Staircases
The layout was largely determined by a daisy wheel, with 14 points drawn on the floor surface before being located. (We almost lost the original lines drawn last year, but thankfully we were able to trace the pencil lines with a marker and a careful eye.) Daisy whales themselves have a long and interesting history. . This is neither the time nor the place for that. Let’s say it’s geometric magic. (See the bottom of this page for a taste of what you can do with Daisyville.)
However, daisy wheel lines indicate the angle of the ladder coming out of the post, but not necessarily the exact position of the mortise. We had a spacious room there. Using a level or stick held against the post, I looked at the lines and held the level parallel to said wheel line. Carefully repositioning the surface, I moved it toward or away from the front mortises, trying to get a consistent distance, but avoiding the dangers of being too close to the edge of the wood as the mortise moves around the post.
When it came time to drill the mortices I had to look down at the floor, using a hole hog bit or chuck as my guide to make sure the drill lines were parallel. This was no small trick, as I had to simultaneously hold the drill level, and keep the dang thing from tearing my hand off from the incredible torque of making a 1.5″ hole in the black locust.
Fortunately, drilling was made easier by the 11th mortise. On a side note, we were very impressed with Woodall’s Tree-Cut Ship Auger Bits for drilling holes in the Locust. The stretching was sometimes awkward, and other times downright painful depending on the position. Bottom most mortis was an exercise in mutilation.
Spiral Staircase Kits For Cabins
The risers (3×5 oak, in this case) are 6-inch long thirds (ideally, when we can drill them deep), and sit in the same deep mortise in the post. This is later attached to the post with two 1 inch pegs. The risers are cantilevered, and ideally the span will be longer if that is physically possible. The riser is 36 inches long, so the 6-inch ton takes all the weight when the steps are in use. That’s enough to ask. (Note: I reinforced each individual riser later because apparently it was too cantilevered to adequately handle the 6″ tin.)
They were very quick to make razors, because the fines were very small in the grand scheme of things. Send the 3×5 April through the planer so that the two open faces line up when the pins are cut.
In the event that the mortises were not perfectly cut, we drove small pins under the risers into the mortises to bring the risers level or even slightly “above” level, assuming they would settle a bit with use. The 3x5s felt pretty solid once they were nailed down.
The wood for the steps (or walk) is filled with elm, lovingly assembled with live edges by Tom. The step stock was 14 to 18 inches wide, and we clamped the stock into position with a razor to determine how and where to make our cuts to determine the shape. That was the fun part, because we could just sew the wood together to decide what looked good.
Mediaeval Mythbusting Blog #3: The Man Who Invented The Spiral Staircase Myth
Once trimmed to size, April used gauze to create a beautiful, non-slip surface texture. Hard work, and great results. Finally, we finish the treads with Landark (Heritage Natural Finishes) Concentrated Finishing Oil, our sealer of choice.
As far as attaching the treads, we used two 4.5″ GRK leg screws to run through the underside of the top riser. Ideally, we’d go back a few days and shim between the tread and riser where needed, and drive some screws into the top surface of the tread.
Going up and down the stairs, no one hears. There is some movement in the riser, but very little overall. April and I took the steps at the same time, and it supported our weight perfectly without any problems. As I said, it could benefit from some later upgrades, but the build is solid. We had no firm plans to add railings, although leaving the railings high (extended from the past) meant that one could later retrofit the design with railings.
The staircase is a visual delight. I hope to have another chance to rebuild once again. I guess the odd hours of drilling and hammering paid off.
Gamia Argento Spiral Staircase Kit
Update: Read my spiral staircase redux post to see how we fixed the final riser alignment almost a year later — now the staircase is more fully and permanently reinforced! About: Full-time maker with a strong interest in creating functional art with CAD and CNC, 3D printing and traditional fabrication techniques. My specialty is spiral staircases and other architectural sculptures.… More about MauiMakes »
A friend of mine was building a custom home and wanted some kind of spiral staircase. He figured out how each piece would fit together to form a helix with a rise and run and a 10-inch hole in the middle. Each thread will be bolted one before the other using long bolts and threaded inserts. Before we started the building project, we took the CAD model and added curves to every surface that wasn’t touched by foot. What we came up with looked very organic and became a sculptural element to unite the three floors.
Once we finished a model, we had to figure out how we were actually going to build it. Fortunately, he had a machine shop with a CNC machine that we could use. The wood we used came from a 150-year-old match factory in New England. After the wood was delivered it was measured and entered into a computer model to show the most efficient use of the material.
We were then able to cut the reclaimed wood to the size we wanted and assemble the blocks to load into the CNC machine. Since the reclaimed lumber had holes and stains around it, we either hid them or accentuated them which added to the character of the stairs.
Living Staircase / Paul Cocksedge
Now we can program the machine to cut with robotic precision while the blanks are glued. By using the final stair tread model with a blank wood model, we were able to use CAM software to write a toolpath to remove the excess material, leaving only our curved stair tread.
After climbing the stairs from the machine they were still standing a bit. The project was to seed inside as it was in Maine in the winter. We set up a small pop-up and put up some plastic walls. Sanding and grinding is messy work and dust gets everywhere, but a Dexter-style kill in the room helped loosen the dust a bit.
Each piece that came out of the machine looked like a map. All curves were originally made up of different levels with a set of “steps” that needed to be cleared. By using black spray paint, we can see how well we sanded, so we can sand everything evenly. A very aggressive sanding disc was used to get the black lines to where they were close to disappearing. A medium grit was then used so that the streaks almost disappeared and then a fine grind until the black color was gone.
After all the pieces were rated, they were lined up and sorted by color and grain pattern. After that it was time for dry fit and assembly. Each bag was baked
Spiral Staircase With Numerar
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