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Start to Finish Stair Trim-Out Project

From sizing up the job to installing the newel posts on a stain-grade set of winders
February 16, 2017
Image Credit
Chris Whalen
Chris Whalen

This collection covers the major steps in a recent job in a 100-year-old cabin in western Montana.

Each major step is covered with an in-depth photo essay detailing the process.

1. Existing Conditions

The remodel project was started by the homeowner and his friend, a carpenter, about four years ago.

My job, should I choose to accept it, is to fabricate and install trim for the windows, doors, and stairs.

2. Building a Mitered Newel Post

The trick to a long miter joint is perfectly flat, straight stock.

The newel posts for this stairway are 6 in. x 6 in. x 4 ft. boxes made from vertical grain Douglas fir.

A solid block in the bottom makes mounting the newel post easy.

3. Installing Prefinished Plywood Skirt Boards

With many short sections of stairs, 8-foot rips of fir plywood will work for all of the skirt boards.

The skirts do not miter into the risers, they butt risers for a Craftsman look

4. Wrapping a Tall Post in Place

What you'll need to wrap a rough 4x4 post with solid wood and mitered corners:

1. A planer

2. A lot of patience

3. A lot more clamps

5. Cutting and Installing Treads and Risers

The prefinished treads have bull-nosing on the front edge and both return ends.

They (are supposed to) slide over the open skirts on each side.

The treads were ordered for beadboard wainscoting, but no skirts.

But now there are skirts.

6. Installing the Newel Posts

To install upstairs newel posts directly to the floor, I use specialized hardware from L.J. Smith.

The other newels were notched into the stair treads or into the stringers.

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