How to Build Free Standing Wooden Steps

Building wooden steps are reasonably comfortable, depending on how much detail you’re building.

The good news is making these wooden stairs are so simple. You only need a little math, a little planning, and knowledge of woodworking.

So, Let's Face!

How to Build Free Standing Wooden Steps?

Let’s jump right in !

To take a basic idea for building a free standing wooden step, You can Check this video.

Step One: Tools and Supplies

The first thing is the necessary tools and supplies. The followings are must have:

  • Hammer.
  •  Hand Saw.
  • Tape measure.
  • 16d Nails.
  • Pencil.
  • Framing Square.
  • Jigsaw.
  • Nail gun.
  • Circular saw.
  • Chop saw.
  • Board bender.
  • String line.

With that aside, it’s time to get the supplies. The most important of these is the wood.

You need at least 6 pieces. They’ve got to be perfect and straight, without cracks. Otherwise, they might cause serious problems later. The ideal dimensions are 2x12x16, 2x4x16, and 4x4x16.

Read More: Guide about Hard Hat Color Code

Step Two: Calculation and Measurement

Now that you’re done with the tools and supplies, it’s time to do the math.

I am going to show you a way of making reliable estimates. If you prefer exact numbers, however, there are websites where you can key in the numbers and get the exact values.

Here’s my method: Determine the finished height (from the ground all the way to the leading part where the stairs are running to) then divide the value by 7, which is the height of a regular step.

If, for instance, you find that the height is 84, divide that by 7; that gives you 12 steps. Other calculation methods may get a higher or lower number of levels, but the dissimilarity can’t be too much.

As I pointed out before, the average step has a height of 7 inches.

The regular tread depth is 10.5”. In case you did precise calculations, you might have something a bit different, for example, 7¼ and 10 5/8.

The stairs will have three stringers, which are meant to give them strength. Each of these stringers is to be made from a single piece measuring 2x12.

Outside stringers will have a width of 36”, and thus you’ll need two 2x36x36 to be applied as a header and a footer.

The legs are going to have a 2x6 piece crossing the bottom, with the purpose of keeping them spread out and uniform.

You’ll be making the steps out of 2x12 pieces and give them an inch overhang on every side of the stringers.

Handrails are usually custom to every staircase. What you can do is cut the 2x6 piece for the baluster at around 48” and cut it down later for the proper height.

While cutting the legs that run vertically to the ground, keep in mind the Pythagorean theorem to get the right height concerning the length of the entire staircase and the diagonal height. Remember, a2+b2 = c2.

Step Three: Set Up and Layout

With the knowledge of the number of steps you’ll be using and the treads’ measurements, it’s about time you set up the framing square.

Having the stair gauges will help you tremendously. They will lock into place and eliminate human error as you lay out the stringers.

In case you don’t have stair gauges, I recommend having someone hold the square for you as you mark.

If you use stair gauges when starting out, don’t introduce them to the project if you happen to get them later. That way, you’ll avoid getting things way off.

It’s time to lay out the stringers. Take the framing square and place the 10.5 side on the right, and the seven side on the left.

Place the square on the 2x12 going as far to the left as possible. The objective is to make outside the framing square.

Take the 7-inch side and carry it across, straight all the way. That’s the top step, and you will cut it out later.

Align the 7-inch side with the 10.5-inch side and place your marks, up until you achieve your desired number of steps.

You should do the bottom step just like the top, only that the tread length is to be carried across rather than upward.

Now that there will be a 2x6 on the top and the bottom as a header and a footer, you’ve got to mark those line and cut them out to make the project level at the ground.

The precise measurement for a 2x6 is 1.5x5.5; you’ll need to mark that on the top and the bottom of step running down the back of the 2x6.

Now is the right time for taking some height out of the bottom step if you meant to do so. All you need to do is make measurements from the bottom up and mark a line for the 2x6 to be cut in.

Step Four: Cutting

As you cut the steps, do not cut past the lines you marked. It’s better to return with a hand saw and cut out the little pieces that remain attached. It might be a little annoying, but it’s essential.

Remember when I told you to go for wood that has no cracks? Imagine the one you’re using has broken, and then, as you cut, it splits. I bet that does not inconvenience you’d like to experience, right?

While you cut the treads along with the header and the footer, another person can be reducing the stringers. And, if possible, another one can be working on the legs and balusters.

While working on the legs, be sure to cut the let in’s accurately.

Don’t know what let in’s are? That just refers to a cut-out of 4x4 (width) into the legs. Only half the leg’s thickness is taken out, to allow the two boards to set into each other firmly.

Step Five: Assembling It All

Begin by positioning the header and footer on the outer stringers and then place the middle stringer in between.

Be sure to drive three 16d nails in each. You will find it easier to do that with the parts upside down but take care not to break any pieces, or you will have to cut new ones.

Flip the entire project over and lay out the treads on the stringers.

Recall that there’s an inch overhang on both sides of the stringers. Here’s what you can do: nail in one of the sides first, with the correct overhang, then move onto the other side and try getting it as close as you can.

The board bender can be very helpful here but don’t push it too much, or you will break the stringers. After nailing the outside stringers, the middle stringer is pretty easy to fasten.

Don’t forget; three nails go into each stringer. Now is the time to add the legs. You want to have another person hold the legs in place as you nail them. Alternatively, you can use scrap blocks.

If you want the legs to offer your free-standing wooden blocks a right amount of support, you’ve got to ensure they’re correctly attached. Put around four on the side of the leg that touches the header and his stringer and about 2 through the top of the tread.

As you position your legs, it’d be better to have the let in’s face inside than outside, for the sake of beauty. And when nailing the let in’s, nail one side, and then fasten the other side from the opposite direction. You’re driving in 2 nails on each side.

Step Six: Final Touches

Let’s stand it up, shall we?

When you have it standing, you may go ahead and do the cross bracing on the vertical legs at the back. That is just a way of boosting the staircase’s strength.

To do that, use a tape measure to determine the length of the wood you’ll be needing, cut the wood using the values you get, and nail it appropriately. Alternatively, you can just take a 2x4, lay it against the points, mark it, cut, and fix it.

The easiest way of adding the handrails is to fix a baluster to the tread, but that looks sort of sloppy. A more difficult but more elegant strategy would be to cut into the tread and nail the baluster into the stringer. That’s not only smarter but also more robust.

The number of balusters you need depends on the number of steps you have. The more the steps, the more the balusters you will need.

As soon as you have the balusters on, use a tape measure to gauge and mark a suitable height for the handrail. You measure the length from the top to the bottom baluster. As you cut out the wood, don’t forget to leave 2 inches for overhang.

Cut two 2x4 pieces to the suitable length and nail each of them to one side, ensuring they’re on the outer side of the balusters.


Congratulations, you are all done! It’s time to load it onto your truck and move it to your guard tower or tree house or whatever place you have in mind.

Thanks for reading. I hope that this post helped you to build free standing wooden steps magnificent.

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