Detailing Stair Tread Ends

      There's more than one way to bullnose the end of an open stair tread. November 19, 2006

We are making stair treads for the first time. Any pointers on construction methods would be greatly appreciated. We are making them out of jatoba and will be bullnosing the fronts. Most everything is a wall to wall butt. However, there are a few open ends that I would like to return a piece of bullnose around so as to not see the end grain. How do you go about this?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor R:
I draw a line 1 1/4" in from the edge and then draw a miter to the corner. I cut as much of the line as I can on my SCMS and finish the line and miter with a jigsaw. The return piece is 1 1/4" wide and overhangs the back of the tread by 1 1/4". I glue the entire length of the return to the tread, end grain to face grain, and three nails - two into the treads and one into the stringer in the return's overhang. If you are doing the balusters, care should be taken in regard to nail placement. You will most likely find yourself putting the nails right where the baluster holes need to go.

The second method is the swoosh (looks like the Nike swoosh), is fast and easier after you have made the two templates. The treads and returns are shaped on the shaper with a bearing cutter. You should cut the return piece from larger stock and cut it off after you run it past the shaper. It's easier on the fingers.

From contributor G:
End grain to long grain has always been a problem in woodworking. We put pocket holes on the bottom of the tread and then a series of biscuits. Glue it up, and use the pocket
screws to draw it in tight. If a baluster hole is to be drilled, then take out the screw if it's in the way before you drill. If you don't want to fool with pocket screws, then just biscuit
and bar clamp. Never had a problem. The biscuits make nice loose tenons and you can drill right through them. You can also use a spline, but that is a little more work.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork: Stairs

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2018 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article