Designing and Building Stairs
Stairways can be minimal or very elaborate, but they're all based on simple geometry and accurate finish work.
Today, few people can afford the time and expense of building classical 19th-century stairways. Tastes have changed too, and as a result, stairs have become simpler. But the principles of stair design and construction are the same as they’ve always been, and so are the skills that the builder must bring to the task. If modern stairs aren’t ornate, they still remain a focal point of a house—your work is out there for all to see.
One of the problems builders face in cutting stairs is getting rusty. Unlike the master stairbuilders of the past, on-site carpenters typically build only a few stairways a year. Fortunately, designing a stair and laying out the stringers uses the same language and concepts as roof framing. Fitting treads and risers, on the other hand, is nothing more than simple, if demanding, finish work.
The simplest stairway is a cleated stairway,…