Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WAHM staircase, day one

I'm grappling with the staircase for the entrance hall of the William and Mary House right now.  Once I work out the ground floor one, the first floor one will go more smoothly, I hope!

I'm building the whole thing from scratch, because I've spent so much money on this in other places that I have to save money where I can :)  David has a workshop full of pine scraps and some cool tools, so he cut the strips of triangular wood on his table saw, and I chopped them to length on the chop saw.

This will be a bit of a tutorial on one of the many ways of building a staircase.  This is what you need in 1/12 scale to get started building a standard set of stairs that would be 30" wide in 1:1 scale:
  1. Several feet of 3/4" triangular section wood moulding: either buy it from a lumber yard, cut it yourself or buy balsa or basswood already cut
  2. A thin piece of basswood or pine (or even cardboard) 2.5" wide and as long as you need to go from floor to above the ceiling.  This is the base of your staircase.
  3. Lengths of thinnish strip wood as wide as your triangular moulding + base is thick.

Cut the triangular wood stock into 2.5" inch lengths (or whatever you want the width of your staircase to be).

Glue them, pointy side up, to your base.  When it's dry you can add trim to the sides to conceal the construction, like so:

I'm making a staircase that will take up the whole back of the entrance hall.  it's going to have three steps up, then a landing, then stairs all the way up the back wall of the hall to the first floor.  The whole will be enclosed and panelled.

Here's the next step for me -- visualizing the construction (none of the side walls are permanent yet -- it's just to give me a sense of the space I have to work with.)

I cut a trial landing out of thin plywood -- it's resting on top of a table in the back right hand corner.  I made a small set of steps to get to the landing and then the longer one runs right up.  The whole area under the stairs will be enclosed, possibly with built in shelves and cupboards and so forth.  I think it's going to work! 

I'm going to build this unit so that it's totally self-supporting and separate.  That means that I will just stick it in place when the rest of the decoration of the hall is done, which I think will be easier than trying to decorate around it.  I've ordered my spindles, and I'm going to try to carve my own newel posts and handrail.   We'll see how it goes - I may be ordering those, as well!


  1. Omg, you're working with the speed of light! I really have to get my act together and start doing some building work, I received today rest of the lights to Poe house, so after installing them I could do the exterior.

    I took your package to the post today, it's coming 1st class so hope it arrives soon :)

  2. Hello Nina,

    I shall be watching with both amuzement and delight as you progress with attaching the `String` to the side of your stair treads, `pointy bits up`. Your landing by the way, is a `quarter turn`.
    I have just completed the same principle on my own staircase in the Emporium. Keep up the good work !.

    Kindest regards


  3. Hi, Ian!

    Now, there ain't no call for usin' them fancy stair-makin' names roun' here, suh!


    Thanks for the blog link, by the way!

  4. My gosh, you're working magic here. You make is sound so simple but I bet it isn't!

  5. So, Nina, you have joined Ira in the International Fast Mini Makers Club ;) Can't wait to see the stairs done!

  6. I just found your blog... bookmarked and followed you! Your minis look amazing and your tips are just great.. I'll definitely be trying out a few myself... thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Gracias por las intrucciones de como has hecho las escaleras, te estan quedando genial!!!
    Eres muy trabajadora y eficaz, ademas de una gran miniaturista.
    besitos ascension

  8. Thanks for your tutorial. You are very kind.

  9. Impressive is the speed with which you are working on this project! Among other things, doing everything with exceptional skill, and make it look easy...
    One thing for another, if you like, there is a give away on my blog :-)
    Mini hugs, flora

  10. I can't get over how quickly you're doing this - stairs already? It just wouldn't occur to me to make the stairs. Progress on them so far is excellent, pointy bits and all!

  11. Muchas gracias por todas las explicaciones de como realiza los trabajos, estoy aprendiendo muchisimo contigo, esa escalera esta genial,besos

  12. Muchisimas gracias por el tutorial. Esta muy bien y parece fácil.
    Besitos, May

  13. Looking good Nina! I used the same modular approach on the stairs and fireplace of the Tudor house ... it works great.

    Love the technical terms you use ... "pointy side up" ROFLMAO!! Reminds me of a newfie joke that ends "green side up"!

    Also, your stairs just reminded me to make mine as well as I was just going to build a set of built in cupboards where the stairs should be! I wouldn't have been happy.


  14. I am reading with interest all your back posts leading up to this one on your WAMH room. All your tips are very useful! Thank you!


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