The Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts

Woodworking Curriculum


October 9 – 13  

"Formerly stairs were built up in situ, a step at a time, but modern staircases are put together in the workshop, usually in flights, only leaving connections at the turns to be made on the building. Considerable attention should be given to the size of the stairway and other openings that the staircase may have to pass through, so that not more than will permit their passage shall be put together in the shop. Within these limits the more of the stairs that can be fitted on the bench the better, as all the necessary appliances are at hand, and the conditions are more favorable to good work."

– George Ellis, Modern Practical Joinery; 1902
                 Instructor Billy Dillon on left                  Students working on stair project

The class will guide students through basic aspects of stair building. In the classroom, we will first cover stair math and drawing. In the shop, we will learn how to make jigs for routers and table saws, which we will use to cut and build flights of stairs. We will make both open stringer and box (housed) stringers with wedged and glued risers and treads - the strongest way to build stairs. Students will make their own router template to create housings and can take them home. We will learn how to miter and detail nosings and terminations. Finally, we will cover basic hand railings.

Enrollment is limited to six people.

Tuition: $800 per person, $1500 per couple; includes lunch.

Reading material will be provided. A great resource is Modern Practical Stairbuilding & Handrailing by George Ellis (originally published in 1932 and reprinted in 1999 by Linden Publishing, 2006 S. Mary St., Fresno, CA 93721-3311 phone: 559-233-6633).

According to the book's introduction, "George Ellis was one of the premier English writers on carpentry and joinery and his works have been in demand for many years on the rare book market. ... The present edition is a facsimile of the 1932 edition except for minor changes. ... Readers are advised that this is a republication of a 1932 edition and is intended to show how staircases and handrailing systems were produced at that time. The methods illustrated here may not conform with local regulations and safety standards."

View Cart

Click here to go to our Home Page.

Heartwood School

Johnson Hill Road

Washington, MA 01223

Phone: 413 623-6677


Copyright © 1998-2017
Heartwood, Inc. All rights reserved.