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Free-standing Stair Process

For our Steel and Maple modern Free-standing stair, we had quite a large task before us.  Not only did we have to create a stair structure that anchored to the house in only 3 places, we also had to source hardwood slabs thick enough to keep our riser space less than 4″ to meet code.  A stair of this scale, not necessarily in terms of size, mind you, but in scale detail and integration, takes months and months of planning and design before we begin sawing wood and welding metal.  We spent many hours going back-and-forth with the architect and master builders over at Green Gables to make sure all parties involved were absolutely certain of every detail.  That being said, because this modern stair required such thick wood slabs for the treads, we began to source that material as we were in-process of design revisions.  We had to start this process early because getting wood thick enough to have clean 4″ thick slab treads would require a long time to dry, both in the air and in a kiln.  it was favorable that we were able to source an urban tree that had been taken down and sitting for quite some time already.

Slabs in the Yard

FUll-length slabs or Oregon-harvested Western Maple

Slabs in the shop

Slabs cut down to be milled into treads

While the wood side of the shop was processing the slabs into the final dimensions and using the CNC to precisely mill out the tread plate pockets and balustrade slots, the fabrication side of MW was assembling the steel structure of this stair.


As we constructed the stair base in I-beam sections, we used CNC cut templates to check for perfect alignment.

Once the treads were CNC’d, they were meticulously sanded and detailed to a high level of finish like our slab tables.  We filled all voids and stabilized all natural cracks with high-strength resin, and had them finished with a clear, water-based eco-friendly finish.


CNC milled and finished treads awaiting installation.

After the treads were machined and the structure fabricated, we were able to test-fit the entire structure in the shop before beginning the finish process of sand blasting and clear-lacquer on the structure.


Completed stair, assembled in-shop and awaiting disassembly for finish and installation.

After we checked all our references, it was time to take the structure down for finishing.  Once we had everything ready, it was time to go back out to the site for final installation.


A clear view of the sand-blasted structure and precise fit of the treads.

After the treads were all fit, it was time for the stainless balustrade and wood-cap rail to go in, go to the portfolio page to see the finished photos of this beautiful floating stair.