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Softwood & MDF staircase with Oak & Chrome handrail - West Sussex

Softwood & MDF staircase with Oak & Chrome handrail - West Sussex

Softwood & MDF staircase with Oak & Chrome handrail – West Sussex

This was the second of two staircases I worked on in West Sussex, the main staircase can be seen here.

This staircase was built in the newly constructed section that connected two originally separate buildings together to form a large single residence. As you can see in the image to the left, the staircase is actually 3 staircases connecting 4 different levels. This is because one of the original two buildings was higher than the other.

The stairs themselves were made from softwood strings and newel stubs, with MDF treads and risers, while the handrail was from B&Q’s range of Oak and Chrome.

Routing the softwood strings

Routing the softwood strings

The staircase having been assembled

The staircase having been assembled

A single bullnose at the bottom of the middle flight of stairs

A single bullnose at the bottom of the middle flight

It was a fairly straight-forward process, as although the staircase had to connect four floors, it was only three straight flights, with no winding sections. There had to be some careful measuring before construction began, as the tread rise and going for each flight was slightly different, and a landing had to be constructed at the top of the top flight to meet regulations as there was a doorway there.

The middle flight was fitted first

The middle flight was fitted first

The bottom flight was fitted second

The bottom flight was fitted second

The top flight and landing was fitted last, before the handrail was started

The top flight and landing was fitted last, before the handrail was started

The oak and chrome handrail, newels and spindles are fitted

The oak and chrome handrail, newels and spindles are fitted

The softwood stub newels were rounded over for decorational purposes before the chrome newel bases were fitted.

Once they were on, the oak newel posts were slotted in and the chrome handrail connectors were slotted onto them once the newels were cut to the correct height ( the oak newels and the oak handrail are the same and are supplied in lengths of around 3 metres).

The oak handrail could then be fitted and the chrome spindles then followed once the oak base-rail was fixed onto the softwood strings.

I must admit that i was dubious about the appearance of the B&Q Oak and Chrome handrail system, but once it was installed, it felt fresh, clean and modern, and really did look great :)

On the other hand, B&Q sell it as something for the DIYer, but i could imagine the average non-skilled DIYer having quite a bit of trouble getting their head around some of the initial measuring and positioning of components. And this is not helped by the slight irregularities of the chrome fittings which make some easier to fit than others.

But that said, this was another job that went really well, and as always, the best part was that my customer was very pleased with it.

:)

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Double winding staircase in softwood & MDF

Double winding staircase in softwood & MDF

Double Winding Staircase in softwood & MDF-Guildford.

This was another staircase built on site.

It leads from the first floor of a semi-detached house in Guildford up to a loft conversion on the second floor.

The strings (sides of the staircase) and the newels were in softwood, and the treads and risers were in MDF.

There were two winding sections, one three “kite” tread section as you step on to the staircase, turning right as you go up, then a six tread straight flight before arriving at the second three “kite” tread winding section turning again to the right and onto the second floor landing.

This staircase was directly above the staircase from the ground floor to the second floor, allowing the required minimum 2 metres of headroom between the two.

The Process

Setting out the staircase

Setting out the staircase

Routing the strings

Routing the strings

Gluing the risers into the treads

Gluing the risers into the treads

Sanding the strings before assembly

Sanding the strings before assembly

Assembling the straight flight section

Assembling the straight flight section

Trying the newel posts on

Trying the newel posts and winding treads

Fitting the staircase, main section first.

Fitting the staircase, main section first.

Fitting the winding treads

Fitting the winding treads

Fitting the handrail and spindles

Fitting the handrail and spindles

Installation complete, ready to be decorated and carpeted

Installation complete, ready to be decorated and carpeted

I always find staircases extremely satisfying to do.

When done well, they add a great deal of character to any house.

In this case, there wasn’t a huge amount of space to work in while making the staircase, but it is always an advantage to have the place where the stairs are going to end up close by so that any measurements that you need during the job are there to hand and progress is not hindered.

I love getting rid of the ladder that has been used upto the point of staircase installation and standing back and enjoying a newly fitted staircase. And everyone else working on the site is always pleased to not have to carry all their tools up and down ladders anymore too!

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December 13th, 2009 by admin
Newly fitted bannisters

Newly fitted banisters

Newly fitted banisters in St Johns, Woking

As a carpenter and joiner, it’s always a pleasure to bring wooden furniture and household features up to date.

What you see to the left is the newly fitted banisters that replaced some that were fairly out of date.

In this case, the square newel posts were kept as they were, and we installed new handrail, base-rail, spindles and newel caps, which were sourced by the customer from Wickes in St Johns, Woking.

Once i have met with the customer and advised them on what their options are, with replacement handrail jobs,  I usually suggest that the customer gets hold of the materials themselves, because that way, they get what they want and they know that they are paying the right price.

Currently, i am hearing from a lot people who would like to have their staircase modernized. When house were being built in the 70s and 80s, it was then fashionable to have the horizontal boarding fitted between the newel posts, but nowadays it isn’t so desirable. Another concern, particularly for this customer, is that their young toddlers could be very tempted to use the horizontal banisters as a climbing frame, which could very easily end in tears!

The Process

70s/80s horizontal bannisters to be removed

70s/80s horizontal banisters to be removed

Old bannisters being removed

Old banisters being removed

Old bannisters now removed and old holes filled

Old banisters now removed and old holes filled

The first thing to do was to put down all the dust sheets to protect the carpet from the majority of the dust.

Next was to remove the existing newel caps and cut out the handrail and balustrading using a handsaw. Once this was done, the tops of the newels needed to be prepared to fit the recess of the new newel caps.

I used angle brackets to fix the new handrail to the existing newels, which had to be rebated into both the newels and the new handrail, so that they wouldn’t be seen once the rebates were filled.

As always with old staircases, over time, the newels had shrunken out of square, so careful measurements and recording of angles had to be made in order to cut the ends of the handrails and base-rails so that they joined nicely to the newel posts.

Once the new handrails and base-rails were fitted, i used two part filler to make good the small holes and cracks around where i had filled the old holes with timber, and sanded everything flat to give a good surface to be decorated.

Spindles now installed

Spindles now installed

Next was fitting the spindles, which required calculating the equal spaces between each, and then cutting the spacers to the right size.

This is one of my favourite parts of this kind of job, because once you have the spacers and the spindles all cut to the right length and angle, fitting them is a very quick job, providing you have a nail gun (which i do!). If you only have a hammer and nails, than it will take about 6 or 7 times as long, but in comparison to the rest of the job, which can be quite strenuous and laborious, it is a real breeze, which is all the nicer when it is the last part of the job!

This job took a bit longer than a normal working day, but I stayed a bit longer in this case to get it finished, as leaving it unfinished wouldn’t be safe for the customers young children.

The customers very kindly let me work on their banisters while they were out, so as to let me get on with it as efficiently as possible. The job was finished within the timescale quoted, and all in all, everyone was happy!

A nice job :)

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November 29th, 2009 by admin
This was a really nice oak staircase to do.  It was for an impressive new build house in West Byfleet, and the client had the build planned out very well, which always helps in acheiving the desired result.  This was in fact 2 two staircases as the house has three floors, the flight shown to the left was from the ground floor, leading up to the first floor. You can just see the second staircase directly above this one which leads upto the second floor. The double bullnose and twin monkey-tail handrails really make for a spectacular entrance through the front door into the main hallway.

This was a really nice oak staircase to do. It was for an impressive new build house in West Byfleet, and the client had the build planned out very well, which always helps in acheiving the desired result. This was in fact 2 two staircases as the house has three floors, the flight shown above was from the ground floor, leading up to the first floor. You can just see the second staircase directly above this one which leads upto the second floor. The double bullnose and twin monkey-tail handrails really make for a spectacular entrance through the front door into the main hallway.

This image shows a view of both oak cut string staircases from the top floor, and from here, you can also see the curved oak gallery handrail. In case you're wondering, the white blob is a pendant lampshade suspedned from the ceiling above!

This image shows a view of both oak cut string staircases from the top floor, and from here, you can also see the curved oak gallery handrail. In case you

Cut string oak staircases - view from ground I

Cut string oak staircases - view from ground I

Cut-string oak staircases - view from ground II

Cut-string oak staircases - view from ground II

Oak cut-string staircases - view from first floor

Oak cut-string staircases - view from first floor

Cut-string oak staircase - before assembly

Cut-string oak staircase - before assembly

If you’d like to enquire about having work done similar to this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by clicking here

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June 20th, 2009 by admin

On and off over the past month or so, i’ve been working at a large house that is being entirely renovated. It began while i was still working at Mayford Joinery, and while i was there, i made the staircase and some of the new replacement windows for the house. The oak staircase has a double bullnose and winds to the left halfway up, and at the top you can turn either left or right depending on which part of the house you want to go to. I fitted the staircase with Keith Holdaway, another very good local carpenter, a few months ago, before i started this blog. I will take some pictures to add to this post next time i’m there. Pictures i did manage to get are of the bay window at the front of the house. All windows and doors at the house are being replaced apart from this one. But seeing as it was single glazed, some work needed to be done on it to make it double glazed. I took the casements out of the frame and removed the old glass before using a router to deepen the rebates of each casement to be able to take 14mm double glazing.

This is the front bay window, the frame will not be replaced but the casements are being removed, having the rebates deepened to take thicker 14mm glass, and put back into the frame.

This is the front bay window, the frame will not be replaced but the casements are being removed, having the rebates deepened to take thicker 14mm glass, and put back into the frame.

Once the casement have had the rebates deepened they are put back into the frame and boarded up while the new glass is made.

Once the casement have had the rebates deepened they are put back into the frame and boarded up while the new glass is made.

The new glass has been fitted, now it just needs to be painted

The new glass has been fitted, now it just needs to be painted

More recently, i have been replacing the the downstairs windows and french doors with new, double glazed ones.

Here are two newly fitted windows in the Study

Here are two newly fitted windows in the Study

Here is a large newly fitted window and french doors in the Dining room, there is also a large bay window in this room that will be replaced in the future.

Here is a large newly fitted window and french doors in the Dining room, there is also a large bay window in this room that will be replaced in the future.

Here, the library windows have been removed, and the brickwork cills have been dropped by about 12

Here, the library windows have been removed, and the brickwork cills have been dropped by about 12

Once the new larger windows are in, the next job will be to fit two large bay windows. I’ll be writing more posts about this job as time goes on.

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Another nice job in West Byfleet this week, i’ve been fitting the oak nosing that goes underneath the curved gallery ballustrading on the first floor of the house.

Here the curved sections of the oak nosing have already been fitted. 18mm of ply facing had to be cut down to take it as well as chiseling out some of the screed.

Here the curved sections of the oak nosing have already been fitted. 18mm of ply facing had to be cut down to take it as well as chiseling out some of the screed.

Once the nosings were fixed in place, the oak balustrading which had already been fabricated at Mayford Joinery could be positioned and fixed into place above  the nosing.

Once the nosings were fixed in place, the oak balustrading which had already been fabricated at Mayford Joinery could be positioned and fixed into place above the nosing.

Here some batons have been fixed to the facing. If you put a spirit level on the batons, they show as plumb, unlike the facing they are fixed to

Here some batons have been fixed to the facing. If you put a spirit level on the batons, they show as plumb, unlike the facing they are fixed to

The nosing could only be fixed on once 18mm of ply facing was cut by the thickness of the nosing, and there was some screed that needed chiseling out too. The curve of the oak nosings and the curve of the ply facing were completely different. I had to position the nosing about 25mm proud of the ply facing in some areas, in order for the apron to be able to slot up into the groove in the nosing.

Once the curved nosing  sections were fixed on, it was pretty straightforward to fit the straight sections in between the curved sections, and between the curved sections and the newels at either end.

Once all the sections of the nosings were fixed in place, the pre-fabricated curved balustrading could be positioned and fixed above the nosing. Mayford Joinery did a great job putting this balustrading together.

With the nosing in place, the next job was to mark down from the groove on the underside of the nosing, measuring how thick the batons that would be fixed to the ply facing would need to be. This was a pretty laborious job, as the ply was kinked and warping all over the place. I had to mark where each 25mm baton would go, being spaced 50mm apart, and then use a spirit level to project down from the rear side of the nosing groove and measuring the gap between the level and the ply facing at the top and bottom facing to work out how thick each baton would have to be at each end.

Batons were fixed on with a screw at the top and the bottom.

Batons were fixed on with a screw at the top and the bottom.

More batons fixed on

More batons fixed on

All batons now fixed on

All batons now fixed on

Conrad at Mayford Joinery very kindly let me mark out and cut all 74 batons at his workshop using the bandsaw. I have to say that without a bandsaw, this part of the job would have been a bit of a nightmare, and wouldn’t have been that accurate!

With all the batons tapered and numbered, it was pretty easy to fix them onto the facing, actually it was quite therapeutic!

The next job was to cut the mdf apron to size. We used a sheet of 6mm mdf with one side having been kerf-cut, allowing the mdf to bend very easily while keeping the face side very smooth for when it will be painted.

The measurement from in the groove of the oak nosing to the ceiling below was about 415mm so i cut two 420mm strips of bendy mdf, one to go into each of  the curved sections of the gallery.

Once cut, the 8' length of bendy mdf was pretty unwieldy, so i had to use a sash cramp to hold it in place. My aim here is to slot the 6mm mdf up into the 6mm groove in the oak nosing before pinning it to the batons.

Once cut, the 8

After a few minutes of trying to persuade the apron into the groove, it was becoming clear it waqs going to take more than two hands and a sash cramp to get it in it's groove, so my client jumped up and gave me a hand and we got it sorted. He took this photo too, nice guy!

After a few minutes of trying to persuade the apron into the groove, it was becoming clear it was going to take more than two hands and a sash cramp to get it in it

First section of the bendy mdf is fixed on. We did the same on the other curve. Once they were both fixed, i then just had to cut 420mm x 1232mm peice of regular 6mm mdf onto the straight section between the two curves. All that was required to fix them on was a single course of pins along the bottom edge of the apron and along the sectional joins. Where the joins met, i added an additional baton to the facing that both joining edges of the mdf could be fixed to.

First section of the bendy mdf is fixed on. We did the same on the other curve. Once they were both fixed, i then just had to cut 420mm x 1232mm peice of regular 6mm mdf onto the straight section between the two curves. Because the top edge was secured by the groove, all that was required to fix them on was a single course of pins along the bottom edge of the apron and along the sectional joins. Where the joins met, i added an additional baton to the facing that both joining edges of the mdf could be fixed to.

Once all the sections of 6mm mdf apron were fixed on, the next job was to tidy up the bottom edge, by taking off 5 or 6mm to match it to the ceiling line. This was more difficult than you might think due to the kerf-cut mdf. If i planed it, it would have broken off the kerf cuts on the back of the apron before they had become short enough not to obstruct the cover bead that would later be fitted. So i marked the ceiling line onto the mdf using a very sophisticated peice of notched out baton, placed the notch over the apron excess and slid the baton along the ceiling behind the aprons excess and used the remaining end of un-notched baton as a scribe to run my pencil along, giving me the perfect ceiling line. I then belt-sanded the apron excess up to the line.

With the apron now flush to the ceiling, the next job was to make the cover beads for the underneath of the apron.

The 35mm wide cover bead was made using 6mm mdf. The straight sections were very straight-forward and use very little material, but when it comes to the curved sections, you need to make sure you have enough material! You cant bend a straight section, you have to cut it to the radius you need, and for two curved sections of 35mm bead, you'll need nearly a whole 8' x 4' sheet of mdf

The 35mm wide cover bead was made using 6mm mdf. The straight sections were very straight-forward and use very little material, but when it comes to the curved sections, you need to make sure you have enough material! You cant bend a straight section, you have to cut it to the radius you need, and for two curved sections of 35mm bead, you

I made the curved sections of the cover bead using a router. I basically used it like an over grown pair or compasses. I cut a peice of mdf long enough to fix my router to and measure from the cutter along to the point of my radius. I then screwed through the pivot point and made sure that enought material was under the cutter of my router when i moved it along the circumference of the circle.

I made the curved sections of the cover bead using a router. I basically used it like an over grown pair or compasses. I cut a peice of mdf long enough to fix my router to and measure from the cutter along to the point of my radius. I then screwed through the pivot point and made sure that enought material was under the cutter of my router when i moved it along the circumference of the circle.

Here are the finished curved beads. I also routed a 4mm radius detail onto the edges of all the sections of bead. Quite a lot of work for something so small!

Here are the finished curved beads. I also routed a 4mm radius detail onto the edges of all the sections of bead. Quite a lot of work for something so small!

Once the routing was done, i then cut the curved beads to the right length and fixed them underneath the apron by pinning them to the same batons the apron is pinned to. Once they were on, i then cut the straight sections between the curves and the newels.

Job Done!

Me just about to pack up at the end of a produdtive day!

Me just about to pack up at the end of a productive day!

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