Above, Luis from Landers Flooring is back to remove and replace one stair tread. The balusters for this tread were drilled in the wrong place. Today, Luis removed the balusters and existing hickory tread, then fitted the replacement. At the end of the day, he clearcoated it with polyurethane.
Steven turned over Emerald Hill to Ron Dahlke from Ranserve while traveling all week to Vegas for ShowStoppers @ CES. Jadin and Jacquela visited the house today. Jacquela said “wow.” She and Steven plan an early visit Saturday to catch Steven up on a whole week of progress without Steven sticking his foot and hand into everything. Can’t wait.
Steven visited Brian Chilton Metalworks today, delivering the metal mask that will be mounted over the fireplace. Brian will design a mount for the mask and match the patina from the mask when he finishes off the stair balusters and handrail.
Luis finished sanding last night by vacuuming up the sawdust and then sealing the hickory risers and treads. Today, he applied the first coat of water-based polyurethane, let it dry, and is sanding it down, by hand, not machine. There’s nothing better than fingers to discover rough spots that need more attention.
Luis continues building the stairs — riser, tread, riser, tread. This is craft. This is skill. And artistry. And passion. Luis pulled out his phone, scrolled through photos of his work to show Steven an octogon he built from six different species of wood, alternating colors into light and dark-banded orbits, gluing everything up, then assembling it into a large insert that was inlaid into a larger wood floor. This is the expertise and experience he brings to building the stairs at Emerald Hill.
By early afternoon, he’s about halfway up the staircase. He expects to finish cutting wood tomorrow, then start sanding and applying polyurethane.
Repeat as necessary, riser and tread, riser and tread …
Emerald Hill is now turned over to Luis, stairbuilder.
He is turning hickory planks, carefully, deliberately, into risers, treads and nosings, cutting wood with what has to be the smallest, most-underpowered, beaten-up, portable Black & Decker table saw, set up outside on the front walk, on a dreary, overcast and sometimes wet day, matching his skills and tape measure against a 7-inch thin-kerf blade. He bought the machine used, he tells Steven, at a flea market 10 years ago, he thinks. He’s burned through many larger, heavier, more powerful table saws, but this is the machine he comes back to with trust. It’s the story he will scribe as he builds the stairs over the next four days.