lo-cal step units

Stuart R

Member
Hello all,

If you frequent this space, you may have seen my recent post and resulting thread discussing the use of 1x for building stock platforms and accompanying compression legs. That campaign is well under way and working well (thanks for the ideas and feedback).

Now I want to build some stock step units with a similar focus on lightness and portability (once safety is attended to). In my experience, a 4' wide independent step unit with three carriages, 1' treads, and 7" risers all made of 3/4 ply is stupid heavy. Any ideas of how I can lighten it? Various ideas I'd had:
  1. use three notched 1x10s or 1x12s instead of closed ply carriages (and leg the top step)
  2. use 1x12 for treads (Or is that too dicey? How about 2x12 s- not lighter than plywood, but prettier than ply with less cutting)
  3. use thinner ply for the risers (most of the tread support seems to come more from the center carriage, yes?)
  4. retain the 3/4 ply closed carriage but replace the center carriage with a 1x or 2x stringer up the middle and cleated to each step
I'm not sure which combinations of strategies offer the optimum weight savings while keeping things solid.

BONUS QUESTION: I'm making a cyclindrical platform with a radiused plywood top and bottom (via router jig). To enclose the cylinder, would you attach triangular 1x cleats every few inches along the curves and then bend 1/4" or 1/8" plywood around the circumference, tacking it as you go, OR would you go hardcore and cut (ma-a-a-a-a-ny) relief cuts on one side of some 2x4s, bending and attaching them just inside the curves and affixing the skinny ply to that?

Thoughts on any of this?

Thanks guys.
 

sk8rsdad

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Fight Leukemia
One technique for bending wood is the kerf cut. 1x8 pine and a liberal amount of hot water works well. For less effort, there is bendable plywood. Many big box retailers stock it.
 

microstar

Well-Known Member
1x12 or 3/4ply carriages, either 3 or 4. 1/4ply risers and 1x or 3/4ply treads. All screwed together. A lot depends on how the stairs are used i.e .how many people are going to be standing on it at one time, etc.
Use legs under each carriage if it spans more than 3 or 4 feet in length.
 

DRU

Active Member
For stock stairs, I would make them out of 3/4" ply and have the carriages square off to the floor so that they can stand without legs. I would build 2' wide units of 2, 3, and 4 steps. Build them 8" rise and 10" run, and close both the tread and the riser. Glue and screw all edges.

If they square off to the floor, then you don't need to worry about cutting the correct leg length for the top each time you set them up.

If you need a 4' wide staircase, screw together two 2' wide units. You have support in the middle and can separate them for storage. If you need an odd sized width, use what stock you can and make a custom 1 off to fill in the difference.

If you need to get to 20" high instead of 16", turn the stair sideways and you have a rise of 10" and a run of 8". Two stairs for the price of one.

If you need a taller staircase, leg a platform under the top stairs to get them to the correct height.

Keeping stock stairs difficult because of all the different combinations of rises/runs, widths, tread styles, open/closed risers, stringer material, and number of steps makes finding space and keeping inventory a nightmare. Thus, in my above scenario, sizes remain simple, materials consistent, and there's flexibility in what you can do with them. If this covers 75-90% of your stair needs, you'll save money and be able to do the 1 off specialty stairs when you need them.

As for the cylindrical platform, it would depend on the height. Anything less than 1' tall could probably just use the top and bottom plywood to keep the radius, with support at the seams, of course. Anything taller, I would keep it simple and put 2x4s at the edges, mark where they intersect the curve, and use them to help keep the curve. If you want to put in the time to do the kerf cuts, more power to you.
 

bobgaggle

Well-Known Member
BONUS QUESTION: I'm making a cyclindrical platform with a radiused plywood top and bottom (via router jig). To enclose the cylinder, would you attach triangular 1x cleats every few inches along the curves and then bend 1/4" or 1/8" plywood around the circumference, tacking it as you go, OR would you go hardcore and cut (ma-a-a-a-a-ny) relief cuts on one side of some 2x4s, bending and attaching them just inside the curves and affixing the skinny ply to that?

Thoughts on any of this?
It costs 3x more than luan, but 1/4" or 6mm Sintra (foamed PVC sheet) is a great way to skin curves. It bends to really tight radii and comes in a bunch of colors. Benefits of the increased cost are ease of installation, pre colored, super durable. It takes a screw easily, its perfectly smooth, doesn't splinter and takes the right paint easily. So depending on a host of factors I don't know about, that may be the easy way to go.

I've build a lot of curvy things with this and a no.6 screw into the edge of the plywood curve is really all you need to hold it in place. Glue isn't necessary.

Pic. A stair we did, pre paint. Breaks into 4 manageably sized chunks. Mix of steel and wood framing, 3/4" ply treads and maso caps, Sintra faces. Bondo over screws and seams
IMG_3675.JPG
 

Van

CBMod
CB Mods
Premium Member
Depending on the radius of the curve and the intent of the piece, Masonite, Wiggle wood, wrap it with Backwards vinyl flooring.... so many materials, so many techniques.
 

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