Friday, August 15, 2008

Spiral stair central column - a once in a lifetime experiance

This was one of those challanges I like to prove I can do, but am glad I only have to do once.

The design calls for a central timber that the stairs can fix on to. BUT I wanted it to look good and so did Wendy. Therfore:

Thirteen slots to take the risers need to be cut in the square post 100 x 100mm at exactly the right angle. After much designing I made a jig to take my router, by unbolting and moving the matal slider frame round the pre-drilled holes I could get the right angles. The carrier for the router fitted both ways in the frame and was sized so that turning it through 180 degrees gave me the right width of slot. The frame was sized to give the length of slot with screws in the router carrier for fine adjustment.

It worked a treat.

Next I wanted an Acorn on the top to match the existing newels. None are available off the shelf so how to make one? and do really want to just stick one on the top.

NO make a 14 foot long lathe

By using a router to do the cutting I don't need to spin the timber fast. So one pivot on the garage door and another on the Workmate, a jig for the router and I'm all tooled up. Almost

Spining by hand is a little tricky while guiding the router so I made it into a foot operated pole lathe, with a motorbike inner tube as the return and tensioner a piece of rope and a bit wood for the treadle.

I was enjoying it so much I carried on and turned the complete newel.


  1. Thanks for posting this info, especially the pics of the jig. I am thinking of tackling this challenge for an outdoor spiral made out of reclaimed redwood. I'd love to see how you attached the treads (individual stairs). Not a lot of info out there on this stuff and I simply can't afford $2000 for a kit. Any idea on time and material cost for this?

  2. Hi Chris,
    I lost the pics of the stairs build. But breifly the Risers fit in the slots with a strip of wood in the slot behind them to make a good tight fit (and glued). The other end is screwed to the stringer. The treads then sit on top of one riser and screwed up to the bottom of the next one.

    I'de have thought you could make a rough and ready set for outdoors for the price of 3 sheets 3/4" 8' x4' exterior ply. Time is another matter, thinking about it takes longer than building it. With alot of head scratching thrown in it may be took me 40hrs?

    Sorry I've not got more info for you.


  3. Fantastic ingenuity and very satisfying to build and use, no doubt!
    Pity about the loss of the pics.

  4. Thanks for sharing this! I was looking up spiral staircase prices because I have been looking to put a set in my house. I think it's gonna look great in my house.