Routing for Perfect Tread Returns, Images 1-8

Trace the Skirt: This stair has one curved tread return that I fabricated on site.

Trace the Skirt: I start by tracing the outline of the skirtboard and its intersection with the riser on a piece of scrap tread stock (B).

Make a Paper Pattern: I copy the outline on tracing paper

Make a Paper Pattern: Fairing the shape with a French curve.

Make a Paper Pattern: To draw the parallel line representing the outside edge of the return, I use a paper gauge to make a series of points 13/ 8 inches away from the original line, then connect the points with the French curve. (The 1 3/ 8-inch width gives me room for a 5/8-inch cove or scotia molding, without impinging on the bullnose.)

Make a Paper Pattern: I extend the riser line from the original scrap wood pattern to define the outside corner of the tread.

Make a Paper Pattern: I bisect the angle with the French curve. From this drawing I make the wood template I need to rout the tread and return.

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