Esherick Had No Straight Edges


Woodworking classes are so unpredictable. We signed up six guys for the Esherick Library Steps class. We started the week short one woodworker. He had told us from the beginning that he would have to miss the first day. On day three one of our members felt compelled to leave the class and head for home – Gerald, we hope you’re feeling better. (Of course, he’s been invited back to build his steps whenever he feels up to it.)

This is a quick mock-up made to walk the class participants through the idea of curved or round-end steps.

I posted how the center post of the steps was more twisted than the attendees thought, and that the amount of work had them moving ahead slowly. (You can read it here.)

By Wednesday morning each of the guys was off to the races working on steps and supports. Here again, some of the guys didn’t realize that Esherick rounded the ends of his steps. Not round-over as with a router and router bit. Cut the ends of the steps at a radius round – I guess curved would be a better way to say it. Some of the class took the fork toward curved while others stayed on the straight and narrow.

More Curves

And even if you kept it straight there was other shaping work to do. Most every surface of Esherick’s work was modified in some way. For example, each step, where it attached to the post, had a piece added that was  then shaped into a pleasing curve as it exited the post. And each step also had its edge beveled or sloped in some manner.

One of the guys working on the transition coming out of the post. His step edges show signs of shaping as well.

Hats off to the dedicated guys building Esherick’s library steps during the week. They accomplished tons of work and learned even more woodworking techniques and information. Given all the work, it’s a huge accomplishment that all five of the remaining woodworkers got to the point that they were ready to add stretchers to their steps – stretchers that are curved, too.

— Glen D. Huey



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One thought on “Esherick Had No Straight Edges

  1. I’ve only built stairs twice. Both times were quite stressful (mostly cutting the stringer correctly). Doing this with curves is impressive. The pictures look very nice. Kudos! 🙂

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