Staircase upgrade ..

General wood working tips, tricks and ideas. Anything that doesn't belong elsewhere can be discussed here.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Sat Apr 24, 2021 8:26 am

Thanks, Mark. What I found threw me was that the amount of twist in this wreath really 'throws' the moulds off-line, if you get my drift. So much so that it was difficult (at least for me) to see the end result/lines/where to cut etc.

Question...what's the recommended way of fixing the handrail to the spindles (bearing in mind that the handrail won't be painted) ?
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:36 am

Thanks, Mark. What I found threw me was that the amount of twist in this wreath really 'throws' the moulds off-line, if you get my drift. So much so that it was difficult (at least for me) to see the end result/lines/where to cut etc. /quote]

That is why I use two face mould patterns initially.
Question...what's the recommended way of fixing the handrail to the spindles (bearing in mind that the handrail won't be painted) ?
You are not going to like the answer but here goes: After squaring the wreath and before you start the moulding process first put a groove in the underside of the handrail the width of the balusters and about 6mm deep, as in the picture below. Drill a small hole in the baluster on an angle and tack it to the underside of the handrail, then glue an infill in the groove between each baluster and pin that in place.


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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Oldboy22 » Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:38 am

I don’t know if you will get this due to being on your foe list.

I remember saying there is no point holding the templates up because they show no resemblance to the finished wreath. I guess you have to see it for yourself.

Brian

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:41 am

Meccarroll wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:36 am
Thanks, Mark. What I found threw me was that the amount of twist in this wreath really 'throws' the moulds off-line, if you get my drift. So much so that it was difficult (at least for me) to see the end result/lines/where to cut etc. /quote]

That is why I use two face mould patterns initially.
Question...what's the recommended way of fixing the handrail to the spindles (bearing in mind that the handrail won't be painted) ?
You are not going to like the answer but here goes: After squaring the wreath and before you start the moulding process first put a groove in the underside of the handrail the width of the balusters and about 6mm deep, as in the picture below. Drill a small hole in the baluster on an angle and tack it to the underside of the handrail, then glue an infill in the groove between each baluster and pin that in place.


Image
Phew! That's what I've already done. Tacking just doesn't seem that strong to me. But if it's what you do then that's OK with me. I'll know who to blame when it all goes TU :lol:
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Oldboy22 » Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:48 am

I’m going to disagree with both of you sorry, I would have just mortised the few on the wreath into the wreath, can you imagine making twisted infill pieces “nightmare “ but fine for the straight rail.

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:30 am

Oldboy22 wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:48 am
I’m going to disagree with both of you sorry, I would have just mortised the few on the wreath into the wreath, can you imagine making twisted infill pieces “nightmare “ but fine for the straight rail.
Disagree if you want the method was adopted by George Ellis and is a method written in his book: Modern Practical Stairbuilding & Handrailing. it is near the back of the book.

I would not disagree with your alternative method Brian but think it too has obstacles to overcome. For example if you do mortice or house the spindle into the underside of the handrail how do you then fix the bottom of the spindle to the string?

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:38 am

thatsnotafestool wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:41 am


Phew! That's what I've already done. Tacking just doesn't seem that strong to me. But if it's what you do then that's OK with me. I'll know who to blame when it all goes TU :lol:
The handrail and balusters form a collective structure so can be quite sturdy when finished as one unit. When you glue everything together it has the effect of a shallow mortice.

Because of the way your stairs are constructed I would consider a newel post on the underside at the junction formed by the landing. If not I would alter he string so it is curved. My preference would be to alter the string and put a curve on it.

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:48 am

Meccarroll wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:38 am
thatsnotafestool wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:41 am


Phew! That's what I've already done. Tacking just doesn't seem that strong to me. But if it's what you do then that's OK with me. I'll know who to blame when it all goes TU :lol:
The handrail and balusters form a collective structure so can be quite sturdy when finished as one unit. When you glue everything together it has the effect of a shallow mortice.

Because of the way your stairs are constructed I would consider a newel post on the underside at the junction formed by the landing. If not I would alter he string so it is curved. My preference would be to alter the string and put a curve on it.
Mine too but I do have that newel post going down to the floor and if push comes to shove may not need the curve. We shall see.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:55 am

thatsnotafestool wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:48 am

Mine too but I do have that newel post going down to the floor and if push comes to shove may not need the curve. We shall see.
If you do leave it as is I think it will look a bit clunky, If you add a curve to the string it should help the stair look slightly nicer in appearance so worth considering. Have one of the gurus on the other site knock up a sketch-sup detail to see what the different options my look like.

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:58 am

Fair point. I'm leaving all options open.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Oldboy22 » Sat Apr 24, 2021 1:09 pm

Meccarroll wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:30 am
Oldboy22 wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:48 am
I’m going to disagree with both of you sorry, I would have just mortised the few on the wreath into the wreath, can you imagine making twisted infill pieces “nightmare “ but fine for the straight rail.
Disagree if you want the method was adopted by George Ellis and is a method written in his book: Modern Practical Stairbuilding & Handrailing. it is near the back of the book.

I would not disagree with your alternative method Brian but think it too has obstacles to overcome. For example if you do mortice or house the spindle into the underside of the handrail how do you then fix the bottom of the spindle to the string?
This is my second attempt at this bloody lost it all be fore I could post it, so a shorter version.

Morticing is easy with a Forster bit and chisel, a lot easier than making a twisted infill. Unless of course there wasn’t going to be an infill.

I can’t see any other way of doing the straight handrail than with the method you suggest on that string setup, the problem arises on the corner, if there is going to be a curve added to the string how is that going to be achieved? Is that going to have base rail to hold the balusters in position?if so is that going to be twisted too? Is the base rail also going to terminate at the bottom of the steps, how will that look.

There is also the safety aspect the corner is going to be away from the wreath and becomes a trip hazard, let alone the problem with the landing steps.

But it has all been said before, but the chief designer apparently insists.

I can’t wait to see how all these problems are going to be overcome, because I couldn’t make a good job of those stairs.

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Sat Apr 24, 2021 2:16 pm

Oldboy22 wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 1:09 pm


Morticing is easy with a Forster bit and chisel, a lot easier than making a twisted infill. Unless of course there wasn’t going to be an infill.

I can’t see any other way of doing the straight handrail than with the method you suggest on that string setup, the problem arises on the corner, if there is going to be a curve added to the string how is that going to be achieved? Is that going to have base rail to hold the balusters in position?if so is that going to be twisted too? Is the base rail also going to terminate at the bottom of the steps, how will that look.
IInstead of answering my question, Brian, you seem to have asked several instead LoL.

Yes as you say above............ twisted base rail to follow the curved string.

At least that is how I see it based on what we have to work with.

I think the stairs do need some modification but it could all work.

I am still working Brian and am asked to get around problems all the time. When confronted with a problem I try to find a way to move things forward and get the job done because if I walked away from every job that presented me with a problem I would probably have a very short work career.

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by woodsmith » Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:56 am

For my stairs I just dowelled the spindles into the handrail. The spindles are cut at an angle so can’t twist and then I used the trench and infill method for the bottom. Fitting the spindles is easy if you start at the top of the stairs, the only disadvantage is the joint between the spindle and the handrail has to be perfect whereas the trench and infill method can hide any imperfection in the joint. I did it this way because, for my stairs, you can see the underside of the handrail and I didn’t want to see a joint running the length of the rail.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Sun Apr 25, 2021 10:54 am

Meccarroll wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:30 am
Oldboy22 wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:48 am
I’m going to disagree with both of you sorry, I would have just mortised the few on the wreath into the wreath, can you imagine making twisted infill pieces “nightmare “ but fine for the straight rail.
Disagree if you want the method was adopted by George Ellis and is a method written in his book: Modern Practical Stairbuilding & Handrailing. it is near the back of the book.

I would not disagree with your alternative method Brian but think it too has obstacles to overcome. For example if you do mortice or house the spindle into the underside of the handrail how do you then fix the bottom of the spindle to the string?
When considering how to treat the underside of the handrail, there is one factor that influences where each individual's viewpoint comes from. For my part, it's my house, time is not of the essence. If I want to, I can glue and clamp a couple of infills in place...over-thickness...leave overnight and then sand flush with the Fein the next day. If you're doing it for a customer then you don't have that luxury.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Sun Apr 25, 2021 10:56 am

woodsmith wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:56 am
For my stairs I just dowelled the spindles into the handrail. The spindles are cut at an angle so can’t twist and then I used the trench and infill method for the bottom. Fitting the spindles is easy if you start at the top of the stairs, the only disadvantage is the joint between the spindle and the handrail has to be perfect whereas the trench and infill method can hide any imperfection in the joint. I did it this way because, for my stairs, you can see the underside of the handrail and I didn’t want to see a joint running the length of the rail.
Is your handrail continuous or do you have newel posts? I can see your method working with newel posts and short lengths of handrail in between but not with a continuous handrail.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by woodsmith » Sun Apr 25, 2021 5:04 pm

thatsnotafestool wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 10:56 am
woodsmith wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:56 am
For my stairs I just dowelled the spindles into the handrail. The spindles are cut at an angle so can’t twist and then I used the trench and infill method for the bottom. Fitting the spindles is easy if you start at the top of the stairs, the only disadvantage is the joint between the spindle and the handrail has to be perfect whereas the trench and infill method can hide any imperfection in the joint. I did it this way because, for my stairs, you can see the underside of the handrail and I didn’t want to see a joint running the length of the rail.
Is your handrail continuous or do you have newel posts? I can see your method working with newel posts and short lengths of handrail in between but not with a continuous handrail.
Perhaps it wouldn’t work for you as I’ve got newel posts albeit slim ones.
Keith

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Sun Apr 25, 2021 7:30 pm

To labour the topic fixing of the spindles a bit further:

This type of handrail would usually have a cut string into which the bottom of the spindle is wedge morticed into the tread. This type of construction gives rigidity to the handrail and balustrade as a whole. In Rodgers case morticing the lower part of the spindle will not happen as he is using his existing strings so the structure is likely to be less structurally stable. In this case it might be helpful to use a newel at the turn placed under the handrail or do as Brian has suggested and mortice a few of the spindles on the corner section to add a bit of rigidity.

I would certainly strongly consider a newel in the centre of the volute where it can be hidden behind an array of spindles and even add to the aesthetics of the stair.

The problem with this staircase is it does not lend itself readily to a wreathed handrail without careful consideration to some modification. Only my opinion but others might disagree?

Any thoughts anyone?

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Oldboy22 » Mon Apr 26, 2021 5:34 am

If it was mine I would beef up the bullnose step and use a cast iron newel post like this if you can find one, I can’t see it being solid otherwise.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Tue May 04, 2021 6:25 am

How is the project coming along Rodger?

I have read up on this quite a fair bit lately a lot of the books mention putting in a cast iron Spindle every 7 or so to stiffened up the handrail. It's normally morticed at the bottom onto the cut tread or into the string. I think another option might be to use metal rod drilled into the spindle and string then chemically fixed to stiffen up the handrail.

looking forward to an update when you have the time.

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Oldboy22 » Tue May 04, 2021 7:17 am

I think this picture says it all, mortised deep into the solid bullnose step and handrail.
I guess it depends on balusters your using.

Brian
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Tue May 04, 2021 5:52 pm

Meccarroll wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 6:25 am
How is the project coming along Rodger?

I have read up on this quite a fair bit lately a lot of the books mention putting in a cast iron Spindle every 7 or so to stiffened up the handrail. It's normally morticed at the bottom onto the cut tread or into the string. I think another option might be to use metal rod drilled into the spindle and string then chemically fixed to stiffen up the handrail.

looking forward to an update when you have the time.
Slow, Mark. Painfully slow. Hand tool work is not my forte for all sorts of reasons and I will try and find ways of using machinery. Needless to say, one has to be very careful. A lot of time has been spent (and wasted) looking at ways to do all the various different moulds required. Dead easy on a straight bit of wood and a spindle moulder. Not so easy on a wreath. Reluctant to go at it too heavy-handed with a chisel in its usual context as the walnut will split off if you 're not careful. Chisels are great for paring though.

Grain changing direction not helpful either. And I will find every excuse to do something else rather than knuckle down.

But I'm waiting for a new collet for my Proxxon which should be with me tomorrow.

I'll do a bit more before I post any photos up.

But I appreciate your continued support.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Tue May 04, 2021 6:48 pm

One thing is for certain.

There will be no newel posts.

No mix of iron and wood spindles. An aesthetic abomination.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Oldboy22 » Wed May 05, 2021 7:51 am

Spot the metal balusters ?
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Fri May 07, 2021 5:53 pm

thatsnotafestool wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 5:52 pm
Meccarroll wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 6:25 am
How is the project coming along Rodger?

I have read up on this quite a fair bit lately a lot of the books mention putting in a cast iron Spindle every 7 or so to stiffened up the handrail. It's normally morticed at the bottom onto the cut tread or into the string. I think another option might be to use metal rod drilled into the spindle and string then chemically fixed to stiffen up the handrail.

looking forward to an update when you have the time.
Slow, Mark. Painfully slow. Hand tool work is not my forte for all sorts of reasons and I will try and find ways of using machinery. Needless to say, one has to be very careful. A lot of time has been spent (and wasted) looking at ways to do all the various different moulds required. Dead easy on a straight bit of wood and a spindle moulder. Not so easy on a wreath. Reluctant to go at it too heavy-handed with a chisel in its usual context as the walnut will split off if you 're not careful. Chisels are great for paring though.

Grain changing direction not helpful either. And I will find every excuse to do something else rather than knuckle down.

But I'm waiting for a new collet for my Proxxon which should be with me tomorrow.

I'll do a bit more before I post any photos up.

But I appreciate your continued support.
I quite like using hand tools but do use power tools when appropriate. Leaping into tangent hand-railing is a huge step from the norm and you have taken it Rodger. There are very few tradesmen that can understand the system let alone produce a handrail from it so take your time.

I got as far as making a CAD drawing then managed to do the falling moulds but no further (work commitments). In two or three weeks I might be free again so am looking forward to posting up my progress.

Looks like we are both on a go slow but who cares so long as it gets done in the end.

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Fri May 07, 2021 5:59 pm

It's certainly been a learning curve ! Spent a small fortune on different types of rifflers, rasps, Saburr-Tooth burrs...different parts of the mould lend themselves more naturally to one tool or another.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Sun May 23, 2021 9:14 am

Mark, on p.140 of diCristina there are two terms he introduces that mean nothing to me and the terms are too common for Google to assist.

The context is upper tangent level, lower tangent pitched.

Seat

Height.

Any ideas, please ?

The other thing I can't fathom out is all that end-grain. As you're turning through 90 degrees then endgrain is going to factor on one face or the other ?
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Sun May 23, 2021 2:06 pm

thatsnotafestool wrote:
Sun May 23, 2021 9:14 am
Mark, on p.140 of diCristina there are two terms he introduces that mean nothing to me and the terms are too common for Google to assist.

The context is upper tangent level, lower tangent pitched.

Seat

Height.

Any ideas, please ?

The other thing I can't fathom out is all that end-grain. As you're turning through 90 degrees then endgrain is going to factor on one face or the other ?
Remember the Tangents are simply lines touching the quarter circle.

If you are going down the stairs you are going down the pitch of the stairs but when you reach the bottom of the stairs you will come to a level floor.

So if you are making a wreath to turn out onto a level volute at the bottom of a stair the upper tangent will be pitched (to meet the pitched handrail) and the lower Tangent level (To meet the volute on a level).

If you are going up a stair and turn at the top onto a level landing you would make a wreath with the lower Tangent pitched and the upper Tangent level.

The Height is the total height from the volute to where the wreath meets the handrail, it is the height gained by the wreath around the quarter circle. It can be obtained from a pitch board.

Don't worry too much about end grain Rodger. Do a scaled down version on some scrap to give you a better idea of whats ahead.

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Sun May 23, 2021 2:42 pm

I think I don't need any drawing TBH in retrospect. I'm getting another thick block of polystyrene and will cut it out from that as a proof of concept.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Sun May 23, 2021 6:37 pm

thatsnotafestool wrote:
Sun May 23, 2021 2:42 pm
I think I don't need any drawing TBH in retrospect. I'm getting another thick block of polystyrene and will cut it out from that as a proof of concept.
If you cut a pitch board attach your wreath block to it on the pitch line and then cut the quarter circle out on the bandsaw at the angle of the pitch board you should end up with a prototype for your wreath.

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Sun May 23, 2021 6:44 pm

Meccarroll wrote:
Sun May 23, 2021 6:37 pm
thatsnotafestool wrote:
Sun May 23, 2021 2:42 pm
I think I don't need any drawing TBH in retrospect. I'm getting another thick block of polystyrene and will cut it out from that as a proof of concept.
If you cut a pitch board attach your wreath block to it on the pitch line and then cut the quarter circle out on the bandsaw at the angle of the pitch board you should end up with a prototype for your wreath.
I need to try and understand this ! If my initial understanding is correct then I don't have enough headroom in my band saw. Might have to try and find someone who has a larger one.

EDIT: Sorry ...any chance of a quick sketch as I don't follow the last (key) part.
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Sun May 23, 2021 10:25 pm

thatsnotafestool wrote:
Sun May 23, 2021 6:44 pm
Meccarroll wrote:
Sun May 23, 2021 6:37 pm
thatsnotafestool wrote:
Sun May 23, 2021 2:42 pm
I think I don't need any drawing TBH in retrospect. I'm getting another thick block of polystyrene and will cut it out from that as a proof of concept.
If you cut a pitch board attach your wreath block to it on the pitch line and then cut the quarter circle out on the bandsaw at the angle of the pitch board you should end up with a prototype for your wreath.
I need to try and understand this ! If my initial understanding is correct then I don't have enough headroom in my band saw. Might have to try and find someone who has a larger one.

EDIT: Sorry ...any chance of a quick sketch as I don't follow the last (key) part.
There is a very good video on this Rodger, I'll try to find it and post up tomorrow.

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Sun May 23, 2021 10:28 pm

Thanks, Mark. Do you buy any chance mean this one ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTsjxQhUPWk
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Oldboy22 » Mon May 24, 2021 6:37 am

I think possibly this one.

https://youtu.be/lBkz2JVIufQ

If you can’t get under the top bearing on the bandsaw try cutting the top straight shank on a table saw or with a handsaw, and feed the bandsaw blade into the kerf and tilt it until it’s past the upper bearing on the bandsaw. But make sure you don’t cut into the curve on the table saw or it will be ruined.

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Mon May 24, 2021 6:40 am

Ah, excellent, thank you.
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Meccarroll
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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Meccarroll » Mon May 24, 2021 7:57 am

thatsnotafestool wrote:
Sun May 23, 2021 10:28 pm
Thanks, Mark. Do you buy any chance mean this one ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTsjxQhUPWk
No this chap does end with a nice finished job but the way he goes about it is a lot harder than needed. In my opinion If he had followed the Tangent system he would have done the job a lot quicker.

Oldboy has posted the video I mention and the chap in the video had more helpful ones on making a wreath for a volute.


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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by thatsnotafestool » Mon May 24, 2021 8:52 am

Thanks Mark.
The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Re: Staircase upgrade ..

Post by Oldboy22 » Tue May 25, 2021 9:01 pm

thatsnotafestool wrote:
Sun May 23, 2021 9:14 am
Mark, on p.140 of diCristina there are two terms he introduces that mean nothing to me and the terms are too common for Google to assist.

The context is upper tangent level, lower tangent pitched.

Seat

Height.

Any ideas, please ?

The other thing I can't fathom out is all that end-grain. As you're turning through 90 degrees then endgrain is going to factor on one face or the other ?
Seat, height, and pitch of plank, are nothing more than run, rise and pitch as used in roofing geometry. Seat is always at 90deg to the ordinate in the plan. More akin to a hip rafter than a common rafter.

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