Elliptical Staircase, Images 1-9

The trammel of Archimedes uses sliding blocks attached to a pivoting arm to transcribe an ellipse.

I made my trammel from 3/4-inch birch plywood scraps, some rock maple, and two 3/8-inch plow bolts with nuts and washers.

The wedge-shaped ways, ripped from the solid maple, were sanded smooth and had just enough play to slide freely.

Cutting the plates started with determining the workable footprint.

The tread dimensions were laid out in compliance with the local building code.

Cutting the plywood bottom plates for the walls that would enclose the stair.

I set the OSB patterns in place in the stairwell, positioned the plywood plates, and transferred the tread locations from the OSB to the plates.

The builder, Alex Abassinnia, made a duplicate of the outside plate and, using a laser for layout, attached it to the ceiling joists 20 feet overhead to facilitate the framing of the tall outer wall.

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