Making a Template for Winding Stair Stringers

Woodworkers discuss ways to make a template for a complex stairmaking operation. September 23, 2008

I plan on doing a housed stringer for winders. What is the best way to make the template and what materials should I use?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor K:
I presume the template you are talking about is the same template you will be using for the strings butting up to and the strings coming out from the winders. Well you will use the same template to rout for the winder it’s just that the rout by the wall will be elongated.

The only template I ever used before CNC was made from half inch MDF. Initially it took me about two hours to make it as I wanted to have the identical wedge angle so as the wedges for the treads would be the same as the wedges for the risers except for length. I then flush trimmed an identical copy in case of accidents with the router (which has happened) and keep as a spare.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the response. How did you go about making the jig? I have a manufactured jig just like the old pc jig, for the straight run steps. The setback from risers and nosing on the stringer changes on each winder step depending on the angle. The last steps I did one of the winders, from the nosing to the riser, was six inches different on the stringer ,with an inch and a half nosing parallel with the riser.

From contributor K:
Whenever I'm not sure when making stairs I either draw it out full size on a sheet or in the instance of winders I would knock the whole landing up in 3x2 studwork and build the complete section in real time around the landing. Anything that can be glued is glued and wedged and anything that won’t fit through the front door is left loose. Doing it this way is drawn out and may cost a bit more but at least it will be right when you get to site.

As far as your routing jig goes I'm not familiar with that make but I've always made my own. I machine all my own timber so I made a full size drawing of the tread with the riser tongued up underneath. I then worked the wedge room at the back of the tread and riser and this is very important when you come to cut a couple of hundred wedges on the bandsaw that the angle is the same (1 in 7 I think). I then allowed the difference in the bushing from the router to the diameter of the cutter, cut out the jig and routed a sample. I then adjusted where necessary and made the all important copy for aforementioned reasons.

Whatever the angle of your winders the overhang of the tread on the riser will be the same so the same jig will be used, the rout by the wall will be elongated and the angle of attack of the jig in reference to the stringer by the wall will change but going back to the mock up you have constructed out of 3x2 will give you all the information you need.

From the original questioner:
That helps, but how do you cut your jig with a circular saw and a straight edge and a paddle bit for the nosing? Or is there another way you do it? What is the best way to make this jig ?

From contributor K:
Yes, why not? If you started off with a square panel you could cut most of the top of the tread and riser with a fence on the table saw. If you then determined your wedge and cut one out and dropped it by the fence and then you could cut perfect angles for the wedge room below the tread and behind the riser. Use a forstner bit or spade bit for the nosing and joint everything up that you couldn’t cut with the bench saw. Make a copy. If you make the tread at least 12'' long and rise 8'' long in your jig it should cover you for all stairs you will be asked for.