Step 26a – Build the Treads
Although the plans called for hardwood, I decided to cut costs and construct the treads from spruce 2×6’s. I contacted someone who had used the same plans who had also used softwood and he was really happy with how they turned out, and since softwood can be bought in thicker sizes than hardwood, it would be easier for me to build the thicker treads that my wife thought would look really nice. The first step to building the treads was to glue the 2×6’s together to make 44″ squares. A jointer would have been best for this job, but I was running out of space to store my tools and it is not a small tool! The jointer has the ability to make the sides of the 2×6’s perfectly flat so they “join” together with no tiny gaps showing. Without it, I tried to make do using my table saw, but the problem there is that you are using the opposite face as a guide as you run the board through the saw so it won’t work unless one face is already perfectly flat. My solution was to attach each 2×6 to an 8′ level and then ran it through the table saw, using the nice, flat level as the guide, and shaving just enough off to get a nice, straight edge.
This didn’t work perfectly, but I had to make do with what I had. Once I had run all my 2×6’s through to get one straight face, I ran them back through the table saw on the opposite side using that straight face as a guide. This created a second straight face on the opposite side. I cut each 2×6 into 44″ pieces and then glued four of these pieces together to make a 44″ square block. I ripped a fifth piece down the middle and glued 3 more between this ripped one to create a second 44″ square block. I then glued this block on top of the first one to create a 2 layer block with staggered seams. Finally, I used a series of clamps to hold the block together tight and straight while the glue was drying. I now had a single 44″ square, 3″ thick block.
I repeated the above process 6 more times and then carted them to a nearby woodshop for planing. You need a really big surface planer for this task and again, I had no space to store the tool if I was to buy one. I was able to cut two treads from each of the 44″ square blocks so I ended up with a total of 14 treads. I also bought a long section of 3″ pipe, fifteen 3.5″ spacers to go between the treads, and a 3″ nipple and coupling. Here you can see all of the materials ready to assemble the spiral.
I was lucky enough to have a friend with some welding experience, so after renting a welder he helped me get my skills up to speed practicing on some scrap metal and then I went to work on the real deal. I needed to weld the nipple to a straight section, the coupling to another straight section, and then weld a tiny strip of metal inside that same section. This strip of metal will be used to attach the newel at the top of the spiral. With the welding complete, it was time to place the main pipe into place and then slide the treads and spacers on one by one. After all of the treads and spacers were attached I fanned them out a bit to get an idea of how the finished product would look.