How to duplicate this look?

mahatmacat1October 9, 2011

Hi folks,

We're taking the carpet off the first 7-step-flight of our stairs, which have a board on one side with an open railing (we're keeping the rather boring vertical-painted-steel-baluster-wood-handrail one we have until DH can fabricate one with horizontal balusters he has in his mind), and wall on the other. We have salvage white oak treads, we're buying white oak risers, and I'm wondering if anyone knows how to go about reproducing this look. It's so crisp and clean -- without the nosing over the riser -- we really like its clean lines as it will go with our modernish house.

How to do it? For instance, are the risers canted back so as to minimize the visual gap between the riser and tread above it? I can see a gap, which doesn't bother me. Looks like the tread edge is simply cleanly butted up to the canted-back riser. Or why would one cant back a riser? Is there a functional reason? To avoid catching one's foot even more? Just trying to figure it out. The main thing I love about the photo, though, is the nosing-free look.

I'd be o.k. with no canting if there's not a functional gain.

Any thoughts/warnings/considerations on making this would be most welcome. We're pretty able DIYers and are well-equipped with tools. We're planning a Bona Kemi Traffic natural satin finish to match the rest of our white oak. Thanks in advance for any thoughts/analysis.

Here is a link that might be useful: I've also e-mailed the site owner with questions

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Code requires nosing (overhang) of treads unless the treads are 11" deep or deeper.

Wouldn't a simple miter cut of the tread to riser accomplish the gap elimination?

Here is a link that might be useful: Stair code

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 8:34PM
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Weedyacres, thanks very much. I'd seen that visual representation in my research travels but had forgotten to consult it on this! Knowing the treads have to be 11" deep helps a lot. We can make it work -- but I have to have the carpet off the whole staircase before I can figure it out brain keeps tying itself in knots about this when I try to do it in the abstract, which is frustrating!

I also saw that risers can be tilted back no more than 30 degrees off vertical. I still can't figure out why someone would want to tilt the risers back. Do you know?

And finally, when you say miter cut from tread to riser -- where exactly do you mean? Do you mean making something like a 45-to-45 angle meeting at the change of plane? Or something else?

I really appreciate your help.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 11:44PM
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As to why people would want to angle the risers, I imagine it's so they get the effect of a nose on a tread (i.e., overhang) without the actual overhang. Artistic choice or something.

Here's what I meant by miter cutting the tread and riser:

Of course, with an angled riser the cut angle would be less than 45 degrees, but you get the idea.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 6:58AM
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Ah--I so appreciate your taking the time to draw that out for me. I don't know how to make pictures like that and then import them.

And yes, I *thought* so, but the picture looked to me that the angle was the other way, making an angle *greater than 90* up from the tread, not the other way around. I had even kept thinking 'wouldn't you want it the other way, so you have more space for your foot rather than less?" and now you make that clear. The pic still looks tilted the other way to me (which way does it look to you?), but let's assume that it's going the way you indicate, because your way makes more sense. I'd love to hear back from Salisbury with more details.

The thing I'd think about doing a miter as you draw is that you'd have vulnerable edges right at a very visible place; if either of the edges ever gets bumped or dented, it would really show, wouldn't it? Not to mention you'd need to make those matching miters *masterful* (say that 5 times fast : )) for them not to call attention to themselves in a bad way. I think I'll take the gap underneath instead : )

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 11:47AM
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Update: I received a very helpful reply from the woodworking site owner yesterday. He sent a closeup which showed some beautiful work, specifically mentioning the fact that there is a gap between the riser and the tread above it, purposely to create a shadowline at the butt joint. I's gorgeous.

The work he did is really inspiring/humbling...he also said that a bullnosed nosing is more durable than the angled end-treatment of these stairs. So now I'm going to try to figure out how to have the best of both worlds--maybe an extra long tread and a perpendicular riser, with a fairly radiused top edge on the tread?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 12:25PM
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That photo looks like 90 degrees to me...unless you're talking about a different photo than one on the main page. My eyes aren't seeing the gaps either.

Can you post one of the close-up photos he sent you? I'm interested in how he did it. Like you, I'd be wary of making a mitered point on the front of a stair tread, given its prominent and vulnerable position.

I did the diagram in powerpoint and ported it to photobucket using the snipper tool. Google snipper tool and you can download it (free) for yourself. It's very handy.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 8:19AM
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I'll try to post the pic tomorrow -- not sure how to do it, but I'll try to figure it out. I'll also look up google snipper. Maybe that will help.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 1:11AM
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