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I am bidding a stair (treads=stain / risers=paint) refinishing job. I have experience refinishing hardwood floors but never stairs. My question is this: should I use an edge sander to sand the treads? Or is there some other tool that is more commonly used or better suited to this job?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
ProWallGuy said:
A palm sander would probably work nice.
I forgot to mention it's been stained and the customer wants a natural finish.
 

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Are you looking for the best tool just to take the finish off down to the wood or something in regard to specfically doing stairs?

I have always found a random orbital sander is 2nd only to a belt sander in speed of removing material. I also own one of those little weird sander machines that you can do triangles and conform to molding profiles and such. It sucks to use because it isn't very powerful, but it gets into corners. They also make a sander called a mouse that the base is triangular shaped for getting into corners.
 

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I agree with Mike, - - you'll need a detail sander (PC has one) or a Mouse (Black and Decker, I think) to really hit the corners good, and an edge sander or a random orbit sander for the bulk of the work.

It's gonna be a tough job to guarantee a uniform finish on, - - the existing stain has soaked deeper into the porous areas then the dense.
 

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Nobody knows how to use a scraper anymore??? sheesh. Edger and a sharp scraper will whip those out faster than all the gadgets, although I'm going to buy a random orbital just to try. I have resorted to a belt sander on the risers once in awhile. Still have to scrape and handsand anyway....
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Tom R said:
Yes, I did, - - I've always called it an edge-sander, - - maybe you call it something else??
Nope thats what I call it too... sorry I must have missed that.
 

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sanding stairs

start with buying / or building a stair tread tool.looks like a little stool for the edger wheels to ride on while you sand them it adjusts up and down for different height treads.www.floorstyle.com Then hand scrape, then alittle palm sanding/ hand sanding. justin savage
 

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Those of us that work on yachts, fine homes and furniture rely on scrapers. It can be faster than sanders in many applications and don't forget the dust cleanup.
 
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Discussion Starter #13
Teetorbilt said:
Those of us that work on yachts, fine homes and furniture rely on scrapers. It can be faster than sanders in many applications and don't forget the dust cleanup.
OK I don't understand. What kind of scraper are you talking about? Does anyone have a picture of one of these scrapers? Will it take a 16th to an 8th inch off the floor? Is this a block plane?

When I think scraper, I think "paint scraper" and i sure as hell wouldn't want to tackle a tread with a putty knife.
 

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Scrapers are considered an old school or old world crastman tool, mostly used for final finishing of fine furniture, but certainly a pretty scarce tool in production furniture making. There are plenty of hobby craftsman using them to build one off pieces of furniture for their own pleasure.

I never heard of anybody using a scraper to remove so much material such as trying to refinish stairs. My experience with them is as a final finishing tool. In the right hands they deliver an unbelievably smooth and flat finish. As for using them to remove the material that you would need to move in order to refinish stairs??? Maybe somebody knows more about this than I do, but I can't see a scraper keeping up with a random orbital.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Mike Finley said:


In the right hands
Seems like the operative words there... mine are not the right hands, and whats more I may cut one of them off with that thing!
 

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I prefer a 1" Red Devil, readily available at box stores. Get a diamond sharpener to buff the edge as it will roll in time. It's work, but not hard.
Everybody else filled you in on the furniture aspect.
A scraped finish on fine furniture (a little different from what you are doing) is AKA a French finish, it dates back a few hundred years.
 
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Teetorbilt said:
A scraped finish on fine furniture (a little different from what you are doing) is AKA a French finish, it dates back a few hundred years.
I've never heard of a scraper creating a type of finish on furniture, only scrapers being preferred by fine, fine, finishers because of their ability to create near perfection in regard to smooth and flat final surfaces before finishing.

Are you confusing a French Finish with a French Polish based on using Shellac?
 

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Anybody who doesn't know the relationship a floorguy has with his scraper shouldn't be offering advise on floor refinishing. "Old school", it is not! It is one of the most basic, necessary and integal tools a floorman owns. One of the first handtools he will acquire in his career. It is the only efficient way to clean up square corners from using round sanders and will remove a lot of wood very quickly if sharpened correctly. The little triangle sander is a toy(I have one) and is not worth the time-ESPECIALLY for paint. In the edger photo above, notice the paint behind the radiator pipe, that will be scraped, for example.
There are six corners to be done on every tread/riser. A belt sander can work for the riser if strength is an issue, but there will still be significant scraper work around the entire perimeter. The tread is commonly done with the edger, either with or without a stair helper as described earlier. I have one, sometimes I use it, sometimes not. There will still be two corners to scrape and the entire tread should be scraped to eliminate the edger scratches. I use the it for the bullnose and under as well. There is no substitute.
Treads and risers , especially painted risers(lead?), are not for the faint of heart. They require plenty of muscle and sweat. There are no efficient shortcuts.

The best blade in my experience is the 1" Red Devil Teetor mentioned. They sharpen nicely and are found in most hardware stoores. Sharpening is key to successful scraping, it took me a full year before I could get a good edge. Cross-strokes across length of the blade with a bastard mill file. Once sharp, it may need to be touched up every few strokes or every other corner, depending on the surface coating. It is important to keep the edge flat, as the tendancy is to round the blade. This will leave scallops not seen until the final coat.
I prefer a longer handle than those sold with the blades, much, much better leverage, but a small handle about 4" is sold and is a good addition for tight areas. Below is a photo of one I made from a hammer handle many years ago for about $4. It is my friend, I could carve the world with it.
 

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