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Moldings for Curves

Getting around a staircase problem


I'm stripping the stairway in my home down to the original oak. In many places there's a gap where the riser meets the back of the step. I plan to use oak quarter-round molding to cover the gap and add oak cove molding under the nosing. But the bottom three steps are curved on one end, and I can't see how to bend the moldings around the curve.
— Mike, Evanston, IL


Norm Abram replies: I faced the same situation on a stair I built recently at my house. The molding was antique heart pine, finished clear to match the rest of my stair. Kerfing the back of the molding (see Norm's Notebook, April 2004, p. 118) wouldn't work because the radius was too tight. So I laminated my own molding using lots of 1/16-inch- thick heart pine strips bent and glued around a plywood form.
You don't have to go to that much trouble. The major suppliers of stair parts (such as Stairworld; offer oak moldings already laminated to fit various radii of starting steps. (No such luck with antique heart pine.)
There are also flexible moldings made out of rubbery polymers All sorts of profiles are available, and they can be cut and installed with standard tools. But they have to be painted or stained, so they probably wouldn't look right on your freshly stripped staircase.


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