How to cut steps and stair risers on winding stairs

Unlike most other woodworking projects, stair building (other than simple straight stairs), often requires cutting and machining weird shaped parts.

This can make simple tasks awkward and when they have to be repeated many times, annoying and time consuming.

Two of these tasks that are found in all stairs are the cutting of steps and risers.

Straight steps and riser are no problem, but when the stair has winders things start getting complicated.

In winding stairs, steps and risers are all different shapes and angles. Cutting each one at a different angle can get nerve racking and tideous.

Now days these problems can be solved in many professional shops by using CNC machinery, unfortunately due to the high investment, this is not a solution for amateurs or small shops.

Over the years I have tried many different methods of cutting steps and risers. I have used big professional circulars saws with sliding tables, cross cut saws and made jigs for cutting on saws with travelling heads and laser alignment.

In Stair Building, parts are often heavy and cumbersome and it’s usually easier to move the tool rather than the part. So in the end I’ve come back to the simplicity of a hand held portable circular saw with a simple jig.

So here’s a couple of short videos that show how I cut steps and risers.

Although I use these jigs for cutting stair parts they are also very handy for all straight line cutting when odd angles are involved.

I’m not a very professional film director, so sorry for the low quality.

How to cut tappered steps on a stair with winders

How to cut stair risers to length

If you have found these videos interesting please leave a comment :

9 Comments

  • Alick Munro

    Reply Reply November 6, 2011

    The riser cutter is very ingenious. The greatist difficulities I run into is in making twisted/decending railing parts. espically those with a lot of fine/ deep detail.

    • admin

      Reply Reply November 6, 2011

      Hello Alick,
      Thanks for your comment. I have some simple methods of making twisted geometrical handrails. I could write some article on this topic if it is of interest to you.
      Just let me know and I try to post more information on this subject.

      All the best
      Ness

  • arlen

    Reply Reply November 12, 2011

    i get the same cuts with my sliding compound saw for the edge of the risers….
    your other idea is interesting ….
    i have used a straight edge for years….on finding my winder edges…
    but an interesting way you showed….i`ll keep it in mind for the future…

    • admin

      Reply Reply November 12, 2011

      Hi Arien,
      Thanks for your comment. I have also used a radial arm saw for cutting risers but have in the end found the portable saw and jig faster, mainly because oI find it easier to align quickly and with precision the cutting edge. But of course this is just my personal preference as mitre saws also work.
      All the best
      Ness

  • Ron

    Reply Reply November 17, 2011

    Hi
    Thanks for that little tip on cutting winders with that jig. I love jigs always did. Our on site construction isn’t the same as I have seen on your video, but the jig will work for me. I also would be interested in hearing about your method of building the twisted geometrical rails.
    Thank You

    • admin

      Reply Reply November 17, 2011

      Hello Ron,
      Thanks for your comment. I have several methods of making curved rails. The method I use depends on the type of rail that I want to build.
      I use a mix of solid and laminated techniques that I have put together for practicability.
      I have found that traditional techniques of solid tangent railing are not the fastest nor the easiest way to build geometrical rails so I have tried to find ways that enable me to use modern technology and materials to builder rails faster and easier.

      Although each technique would require several pages of text to explain in detail, I’ll write an article to present my different techniques.

      all the best

      Ness

  • Cut string stairs

    Reply Reply November 22, 2011

    From here got some idea about how winding stairs made. Since it tough to make it so need more effort.

  • Harper Noel

    Reply Reply January 15, 2012

    Really informative blog.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.

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