Most of the whole-house finish carpentry my crew tackles includes basic stair packages — skirtboards, false treads for the ends of the rough risers and treads, one or more newels, and a handrail with balusters. So it’s a nice change of pace when we’re thrown a curve. While I don’t recommend that your first set of stairs be curved — or even your fifth — the skills needed to do this work aren’t new to finish carpenters, just slightly different than on a standard stair. Rather than treads with a consistent depth, you’re faced with pie-shaped treads. The 45° miters on open-stringer nosings are replaced with off-angle cuts to bridge the curvature of the skirtboard, which must be bent to fit the ascending curve of the stairway rather than just following a simple rise and run on a standard stairway. The key to all of this curved work is to think of the framed stairway as your template. Following this method, and using materials suited for the job, your task is simply to bend, measure, and fit the pieces to the curved template provided by the framers.
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