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Old 05-10-2013, 12:15 PM   #1
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Stairs wood repair


Hi all,

I'm a new home owner (renting all my life), and I want to start doing things on my own, so you will see a lot of me

One of the first small projects I want to tackle is the stairs. The bullnose step (i think) is damaged by the previous owner in the move. There is a big chunk.

Doing some research my strategy would be to:

1) glue the broken piece in place.
2) get wood filler and fill in the wood (matching the color as best as possible)
3) sand down

I'm not sure if wood filler should be used for this. Also not sure if I should get stainable wood filler then stain after, or get a pre colored one. There are some other areas of the stairs i would like to re-stain because it has been scratched (also visible in the photo). I also am not sure how to match the stain.. I'm sure it's an art not a science.

Help?





Thanks,
Joe

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Old 05-10-2013, 12:54 PM   #2
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Stairs wood repair


I would go to a cabinet supply and buy some 1/8 inch red oak plywood and wrap it over the curved riser, if it don't bend good, you can heat the plywood at the bend and it probably would bend on around. JMHO Oh, heat from back side to keep scorched look on back if you heat it.

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Old 05-10-2013, 01:02 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by BigJim View Post
I would go to a cabinet supply and buy some 1/8 inch red oak plywood and wrap it over the curved riser, if it don't bend good, you can heat the plywood at the bend and it probably would bend on around. JMHO Oh, heat from back side to keep scorched look on back if you heat it.
Hey BigJim, thanks for the quick reply. A couple of questions:

1. I just put it over the current wood or will i need to take it off?
2. What do I use to heat it?
3. Do I nail it on or glue it or....

Sorry I'm absolute amature.

Thanks,
Joe
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Old 05-10-2013, 01:03 PM   #4
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Stairs wood repair


I would just point out something to consider. It looks like the place may be relatively old and have a lot of historic charm.

While I believe in improving things, something like that I would probably try to put the piece back in and let it shine as a vintage piece.

I just know if you start replacing wood, you tend to lose the vintage feel quicker than you think.

It is those dents, chips, and aged patina that makes a place special in my eyes.

Now, that is not everyone's thing, so if you prefer new wood and a more "perfect" approach, I would consider replacing it.

I would think there might be a wood suited for that which could be bent when wet.

I know I have straighten warped guitar necks by soaking them and fixing them in position until they dried. It is a painstaking process, but If they strips you use are thin, they would bend and probably be fine without much splitting.

I am no expert in guitars or wood bending, but I have had success with doing it.
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Old 05-10-2013, 01:06 PM   #5
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I would just point out something to consider. It looks like the place may be relatively old and have a lot of historic charm.

While I believe in improving things, something like that I would probably try to put the piece back in and let it shine as a vintage piece.

I just know if you start replacing wood, you tend to lose the vintage feel quicker than you think.

It is those dents, chips, and aged patina that makes a place special in my eyes.

Now, that is not everyone's thing, so if you prefer new wood and a more "perfect" approach, I would consider replacing it.

I would think there might be a wood suited for that which could be bent when wet.

I know I have straighten warped guitar necks by soaking them and fixing them in position until they dried. It is a painstaking process, but If they strips you use are thin, they would bend and probably be fine without much splitting.

I am no expert in guitars or wood bending, but I have had success with doing it.
You're right. On second thought the vintage feel was what we fell in love with but would like to make it not stand out so much...
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Old 05-10-2013, 01:39 PM   #6
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Stairs wood repair


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You're right. On second thought the vintage feel was what we fell in love with but would like to make it not stand out so much...
In that case forget my suggestion of the plywood. The old look was to repair, not replace, this is where many restoration people goof up. Many of the old antique stairs I worked on had plugs and strips replacing dings and dents which added to the beauty of the antique stairs.
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Old 05-10-2013, 01:45 PM   #7
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So what i am hearing is to cut out pieces of wood that would fill in the other big missing chunk (and bend as oldhouseguy mentioned) instead of using any filler? Please keep in mind I'm very new at doing anything for myself, so if I sound very green, it's because I am.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:47 PM   #8
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Stairs wood repair


Jim, sorry buddy but I completely disagree with you on this one. That riser is shot. Not only is a large piece broken but there is another failure in the pic that just hasn't let go yet but will before too long. I've never heard heating plywood to bend it, might work but I have concerns.

Jshin, this is not a diy project. A lot of finish carpenters don't attempt bent laminations but is something any competent stairbuilder should be able to do. One of the reasons the finer older homes look good is because the owners spent the money to have qualified craftsmen maintain their homes. I suggest you do the same and find a local stairbuilder or boatbuilder who can replace that riser with the same materials and a good finisher who can make it look like it is original.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:19 PM   #9
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Stairs wood repair


I'm with Keith, the riser needs to be replaced. Although the riser was most likely made from a solid bent lamination today's risers are usually made of Kerfed plywood. With a new riser made with current products and techniques i don't understand why this will be difficult to match its antique character.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:53 PM   #10
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Keith and Millertyme are the two best stair artists out there, my advice is to go with their advice.
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Old 05-12-2013, 06:04 AM   #11
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Stairs wood repair


I think steaming veneer is probably not a good first project for a DIYer and kerfing might be a better option although what is on their now looks to be only about 1/4". You will need a good table saw or router to kerf it. I think I would call in somebody to work with you at least on this part of the stairs. Veneer or veneered plywood is not exactly cheap.

In case you are not familiar with the term, kerfing involves removing material/grooves from the back (or gluing strips to thin veneer) so you can bend the veneer to the shape of the posts. It saves you from having to steam less while providing flexibility and enough support for the veneer. You can see from this image why you need a good table saw or router to remove material.


Patching with color matched epoxy like Abatron's would fill the gaps and be easy to sand. With some experimentation you might get a close match gel staining the epoxy. You could do it yourself once you get the hang of working with two part resins and get the colorant mix correct. Epoxy is not especially cheap either though. I have used Abatron products for years on antique homes and restoring sailboats: www.abatron.com. Conservepoxy.com is a good source for epoxies also.


Obviously you have a budget option or two here. Can you afford to do this right? Could you live with things the way they are or patches until you can?

Last edited by user1007; 05-12-2013 at 06:13 AM. Reason: Added images
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Old 05-12-2013, 11:14 AM   #12
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Stairs wood repair


If you use a kerfed material it is going to be too thick and the nosing reveal will be noticeably off. It appears that the framing was just stacked and not coopered and that only one ply of wood was used which led to the wood failure. I would recommend that a bent lamination of 3 plys of around 3/32+ and .6mm veneer be used. The 3 layers will help counter any localized grain weakness or grain runout.

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