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Posts tagged with “stairs”

Twenty-four Tips on Stair Building

A handsome staircase is always the glory of any home interior. It is also subject to many onerous contemporary code requirements, and requires the highest level of finish carpentry in the house. Planning ahead is all important. Many carpenters and not a few architects have heard me say that the best way to design a house is to design the handrail first, then the rest of the stairs, and then the rest of the house will fall in around it. I’m joking—or at least people laugh at me! But after all, how many of us haven’t faced the miserable puzzle of squeezing a code stair into an inconvenient (or worse) space? So it’s important to design the stair before you build it.

Read the full article…

Scribing Stair Skirt Boards Revisited

When I first read Norm’s article on skirt scribing, four thoughts immediately came to mind:

1) He and I both learned the technique from the same instructor, Don Zepp.
2) Norm’s explanation of the process was spot on.
3) I had a bunch of photos of a skirt board I had installed that I should share with others.
4) I felt exactly like Norm did: Don Zepp was absolutely the best instructor I’ve ever had the good fortune of learning from. Read the full article…

Traditional Tangent Handrail

Today, ‘tangent handrail’ is certainly an obscure topic. Until recently, when I taught a seminar on the subject in Seattle, I didn’t think anyone would be interested. I was wrong. At that seminar, hosted by Keith Mathewson of Seattle Fine Woodworking, we had a full house of dedicated craftsmen who came together from all parts of the country for one reason only—to learn something new. Read the full article…

Keith Mathewson & Seattle Fine Woodworking

A “From the Road” Shop Tour

(With Keith Mathewson and Tom Brewer)

Last summer, while Tom Brewer and I were doing Roadshows in Washington state, we stopped by and visited with Keith Mathewson at his shop in Seattle. Keith specializes in custom woodworking, and he shares his shop with a few like-minded woodworkers. Everything that goes out the door of Seattle Fine Woodworking is a one-of-a-kind custom creation. Read the full article…

The Thorsen House

(with Gary Katz)

Not long ago, Gary Katz and I visited the William Thorsen House in Berkeley, CA. Built in 1909—one year after the Gamble House—the Thorsen House represents the “last of the large and elaborate wooden houses designed by Greene and Greene,” (Edward Bosley), for which Randall Makinson, in his book Greene & Greene: Architecture as a Fine Art, coined the term, “Ultimate Bungalows.” Read the full article…

Staircase in a Bottle

A Blast from the Past

Have you ever thought about building a model ship in a bottle? What about a staircase? Of course, if you think about it, it’s not the bottle that’s the problem, it’s the bottleneck. Quite a few years ago, I was facing just such a challenge. At first, it seemed simple enough, but the more I thought about it, the tighter the squeeze seemed to be. Read the full article…

Solving Porch Problems

Start with the Finish and Work Back to the Rough

A lot of carpenters scratch their heads every time they finish framing a porch and start on the stairs. There are so many ways to frame stairs on a porch that it’s hard to make a logical choice, let alone use the same technique twice. That’s why, to work on this story, we gathered together a group of carpenters, all JLC authors: Mike Sloggatt, Frank Caputo, Jed Dixon, Carl Hagstrom, Tom Brewer, and Greg DiBernardo all contributed to this article. Together we worked out a simple system for installing stringers, so you won’t have to scratch your head the next time you start on the stairs. Read the full article…

Story Poles for Stairs

A simple tool takes the guess work — and a lot of the brain work — out of making safe comfortable stairs.

Every time I’m asked to bid or to build a set of stairs, I unroll the plans, look at the details, and shake my head. Architects rarely include and often they don’t even have the basic information I need, the few specifications that allow me to build a staircase that will meet the stringent requirements of building code in my area. Read the full article…