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Thread: Bull nose shape to oak stair tread

  1. #1
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    Bull nose shape to oak stair tread

    I'm making my own oak stair treads but have one stumbling block. How do you make the bull nose shape? I've seen bull nose bits but I'm not sure my 1.5 h.p. router could handle this. How about using a round over bit and doing both sides? Thanks Alan in Md.
    Alan T. Thank God for every pain free day you live.

  2. #2
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    You should be able to pick up premade stair treads with bullnoses at any HD, Lowes, or millwork shop.

    Dan
    A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish.

  3. #3
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    Alan,

    I bought pre-made red oak stair treads at Lowes. I found that the cost of the pre-made treads made much more sense than the milling, glueing, shaping etc. required with building your own. The local big box stores carry treads with dimensions of 48"L x 1"T x about 12"W. Worked out great for my application.

    Vince in NC

  4. #4
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    Alan,

    I have a Bullnose bit, and my experience has been that it really takes very little off of the stock. I would be willing to bet your router can handle it in serveral passes (preferably in a table). The Amazon Grizzley store offers bullnose bits for a good price.

    -Jim

  5. #5

    Special bit

    While your router may be able to handle a bullnose bit, what will you use it for once the stair treads are done. A round over bit withthe same radius set up in a router and using a fence should yield exactly the same profile in two passes. Then when you are done you have a round over bit which is sure to come in handy in the future.
    Lee Schierer - McKean, PA

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  6. #6
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    Alan, you can use a round over bit, but you have to watch your second side if you have a ball bearing piloted bit. With a ball bearing bit, you have a nice flat edge to regsiter from on the first side. Once you route one side and flip it over, your nice flat registration surface is gone. Using a round over in a router table is better.

    If you use a roundover in a router table, you can do a better job of getting a full roundover, instead of a roundover with a flat in the middle of the edge. Use the fence to register and you can get a good roundover that is quite acceptable.

    With a 1.5HP router, start by knocking off the corners by bevel-ripping on the tablesaw. You can hog in the first cuts, but on the last cut, take about 1/16" off for a nice finish.

  7. #7
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    O.k. guys what you say makes sense. I'm going to HD and Lowes to check on tread/riser prices and see if it's worth it. I'm figuring 50 BF of 5/4 red oak for the treads and 30 BF of 4/4 red oak for the risers. I can get this around here for a total of $263 and this may be more lumber than I need. So I'll check out the pre made tread/riser prices and go from there. Thanks a lot for all the great suggestions. Alan (sweatin' in Md.)
    Alan T. Thank God for every pain free day you live.

  8. #8
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    Alan,

    Won't it be "more fun" to make them yourself? If you can find rough oak, it should be cheaper to make them yourself. Besides, you'll learn something from the process and every time you go up and down the stairs, you will either:

    (a) be filled with a sense of pride at a job well done or
    (b) wish you hadn't listen to me and just bought them from the borg 'cause, well, because of any number of reasons!
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  9. #9
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    HI All, Yes I am going to make these myself due to cost. Rough lumber costs around $263 vs. buying treads/risers for around $700. That's the prices I got at Lowes and HD here but they only had 48" treads/risers which I'm sure are more expensive and a lot of waste for me. My stairs are only 34" wide. So here I go. I've already removed the carpeting and the next step is cutting off the bull nose on the existing steps. I'll try to buy the lumber this week and will post pics as I progress. I figure if I don't like it I can just carpet over again. Alan in Md.
    Alan T. Thank God for every pain free day you live.

  10. #10
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    Alan, We did a lot of the work on our house, a timberframe addition to 1820's log cabin, and it was really my introduction to wood working. We did our stairs with a central metal tube stringer, metal tube upright, then vertical flat plate across with two boards, one front and one to the back. The front tread was screwed to the plate on edge and the back was drilled and lag bolted to the front through the metal plate. (My Dad is a welder/blacksmith.) But back to your question, I just used a 45 degree bit, leaving about 3/8 inch face, and left about 3 inches on each end of the tread square. They have been in 14 years and have had no wear or any problems with the edges splintering off. The treads are red oak 2 inches thick and the stairs are open, no verticals between treads. Hope this helps, Mark
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  11. #11
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    If you choose to build them yourself and use a roundover with two passes, do it on your router table so you can use the fence to keep things in kilter. As someone pointed out, the second cut with the bearing alone will not "cut it" since the bearing will be trying to ride on a curved surface that is deeper than the original cut. The fence eliminates the problem.
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  12. #12
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    Thanks Jim, I do plan to use the router table for this. I tried it on a piece the same thickness as a tread and it came out fine. Thanks again Jim and all. Alan in Md.
    Alan T. Thank God for every pain free day you live.

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