Stair Gauge Jig

Build Your Own Stair Tread/Riser Gauge Jig

One of the secrets to being a good finish carpenter/woodworker is learning from old pro’s and copying as many of their jigs as you can! I’ve known this for years and I continue to keep my eye out for jig ideas all the time. Recently I ran into a jig that is a must have if you work on stairs, especially non-routed stair cases.

In the photo above you’ll see a rather simple stair tread/riser jig. The jig consists of a left and right “pad” that’s used to set the end angle of the tread or riser. The “pad” rotates on a single bolt (with wing nut) that attaches the “pads” to the stretcher arms. There are two opposing stretcher arms that connect to each other with two bolts/wing nuts. The stretcher arms can move in and out depending on the width of the stair case (I’d make this jig to go to at least 50″ wide).

The jig is best made out of a stable hardwood like Maple. It’s very important that the ends of the “pads” are straight. The beveled edge allows for easier site lines and the ability to mark the skirts if necessary close to the working edge.

To use the jig simply place the jig on the stair stringers with the back of the pad tight to the back of the stringer. Rotate the pads until they are both tight to the skirt board. This locks into place the relative angle from one side to the other. It’s very important that both pads be tight to the back of the tread location.

Next you set the jig on the tread material and transfer the cut lines on each end. Once you cut the tread it will fit perfectly against the skirt. You can do the same exact process with each riser. I recommend you start at the bottom, install the first riser, then a tread, then a riser, and so forth. This is a jig that ALL stair carpenters should have.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

Todd Fratzel is the Editor of Tool Box Buzz and the President of Front Steps Media, LLC, a web based media company focused on the Home Improvement and Construction Industry.He is also the Principal Engineer for United Construction Corp., located in Newport, NH. In his capacity at United he oversees the Residential and Commercial Building Division along with all Design-Build projects.He is also the editor of several other sites including: Home Construction & Improvement and Today's Green Construction

@tfratzelTodd Fratzel

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3 Comments

  1. Jeff Williams

    I was just looking for something like this!! I was going to buy a jig (like the Stairtek one at home depot) but now I’ll probably just make it instead.

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Not hard to build….and something you can use for years to come.

  2. Love it! I always love seeing a good jig, but I especially enjoy coming up with my own, or improving one. Ideas like “What if it could quickly clamp onto the tread, and the pads flipped out of the way to have a fence (at the correct angle) that a router could ride against.”

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