Introduction

a repaired balustrade
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Q: I'd like to screw down the oak treads on a staircase I'm building, but I don't want to see the screwheads. What's the best way to hide them?

William Mazzara, Milford, Mich.

A: I'd cover each one with a wood plug. You want plugs made of oak, to match the tread, with tapered sides and the grain running across the face. Each plug fits in a recess, known as a counterbore, drilled with a brad-point bit slightly larger than the diameter of the screwhead and slightly smaller than the plug's widest end. The plugs' packaging indicates which size bit to use. This is a job for flat-head deck screws; ordinary drywall screws aren't strong enough.

Just follow these steps and no one but you will know there are screws in your staircase.
Ask TOH users about Stairs

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    Tools List

    • drill
      Drill/driver fitted with brad-point bit and smaller twist bit
    • mallet
      Mallet
    • random orbit sander
      Random orbit sander

    Shopping List

    Wood plugs with tapered sides
    Masking tape
    Flat-head deck screws
    Carpenter's glue