I was kind of sick of all of the standard stair cases out there so I decided to do something a little different. This project is made entirely from uncycled pallet wood and turned out to be really modern and warm looking. Now while the wood was free, the amount of time and energy it took to refine the boards makes this project quite costly. I used 12 large industrial pallets to make 12 43"X11" treads
Step 1: Ripping Apart the Pallets
The video above goes through the process I took to refine my 12 pallets down to 1" by 3/4" boards. Essentially, you rip off the boards (preferably whole) remove the nails, plane then trim the boards down.
Step 2: Organize Your Boards
I find it extremely useful whenever I'm gluing boards together to organize them by length. This is because you need to stagger the butt joints of the boards for structural integrity and style.
Step 3: Lay Out Your Tread
Lay our each board for your tread keeping in mind several key things:
- The butt joints should never line up between rows
- What type/color of wood is adjacent
- What kind of board will be seen in the very front
I wanted the front board on every tread to be something other than pine. So on the front and back I tried to use oak or fur.
Step 4: Glueing the Boards
Now that you have the your pattern of wood. Lay all of the boards down backwards and paint them with glue. To make this a little easier, you can lightly clamp the boards together to stop them from sliding around as you paint on the glue.
BE GENEROUS. The glue is all that is holding your treads together so don't be stingy with how much glue you use. This is especially important for the outside pieces as they will experience the most strain and the least adhesion.
Once you have applied the glue stand the boards back up and press them together.
Now you need something long and solid to clamp the tread together. I used 2 steel tubes. And here is where the clamps on in. As many clamps as you can find will work, I used 6 pipe clamps and got really good bleed out.
Clamp the boards together and leave them for about 24 hours to ensure a complete cure.
Step 5: Trimming and Planing
Once your glue has dried chop off the excess wood on the ends of your tread and trim it to the appropriate length. Use a scrapper to remove some of the excess glue then run it through the planer. Using a planer is really important at this step, otherwise your tread wont sit properly on the stringers.
Once trick to help get the tread super level, is it hot glue it to a piece of MDF and run it through several times. The tread will match the level surface of the MDF.
Step 6: Prepping for Polyurethane
Sand the treads with 120 grit sand paper preferably on an orbital sander (not belt or you will get sanding ridges).
You will definitely want to round the front edge of the treads with a router. Then finish sanding the entire surface with 220 grit sand paper.
Wipe off all of the dust.
Step 7: Polyurethane
I used Minwax Clear Gloss Polyurethane to finish the stairs. I didn't use a stain because I wanted to retain the natural color of the wood.
Since these is a floor project you want to do at least 3 coats of polyurethane.
- Apply coat of polyurethane
- Let dry for 6 hours
- Lightly sand with 220 grit sand paper
- Wipe off dust
- Repeat steps
Step 8: You Now Have Some Sweet Stair Treads
And the treads are done! You should wait a full 24 hours after the last application of polyurethane before walking on the treads. I haven't finished the stair case itself yet, but all of the treads are done. I will be following this up with the stair case build!