Staircase Software for Professional and Amateur Stair Builders.
My name is Ness Tillson. I’ve been a full time professional stair builder since 1980. I have a small workshop and build made to measure stairs and handrails.
Stair building is one of the most difficult jobs that a carpenter or woodworker can come up against. It is also one of the most rewarding.
The geometry required is often complicated and setting out the stair plans, marking up the cutting lists, and marking up all the different stair parts can be a long, complicated and error prone task.
Up to recently I have been using only CAD software to draw up staircase plans and a spread sheet to calculate stairs and staircase parts. I did the stair calculation by hand and drafted up the staircase plans with Autocad. This was a big improvement over manually drawing the stair plans, but the staircase design process remained time consuming and error prone.
For several years now I have been looking into specialized stair calculator software.
I said to myself dedicated stair software should be of great help, cut through the complicated stair calculation and maths, and prepare automatically all the stair plans and cutting lists to start building the stairs quickly. Surely good stair software can simplify the task and eliminate errors, making for a more agreeable and also more profitable stair construction job.
There are a few companies that offer stair software that on the paper, really look a real time saver. But after test runs and on closer inspection I generally found the staircase software complicated to use with a steep learning curve,, unable to cope with the many different real life situations of one off made to measure stair building. Worst of all, most of the offers on the market, for a small shop like mine, were very expensive ($5000 and more, not counting, updates, hard ware and the time needed for training ). I would say that all the stair cad software that I found was targeted at big companies making mainly simple repeat staircase plans on complicated CNC machinery, so not for me.
Last year a during a trade fair in Lyon I stumbled on StairDesigner.
At first glance this stair calculator software seemed very interesting.
- StairDesigner wasn’t very expensive (around 1000 euros) so I wasn’t risking my life and family if it didn’t work.
- It seemed easy to use, so I wasn’t going to loose my hair spending months getting it to work.
- This stair software coped with a wide range of different stair calculations and designs.
- For specific stair details StairDesigner drawings could be modified using Autocad.
- And best of all this stair cad software had a free down load to test drive, so I could be sure that it would be useful before buying.
So I down loaded the free demo version of StairDesigner and here’s what I found.
Just look at this video to see how simple it is to set up a stair.
This stair software is very easy to use.
The interface is clean and self explanatory. After quick input of a few parameters, the staircase software will calculate the stair plans and automatically draw the general stair plan, the plans of all the individual stair parts, print out a full staircase cutting list and draws a real 3D perspective of the stairs. StairDesigner also writes the DXF files for modification in Autocad or driving a CNC router. You can design and calculate stairs in a very short time and even a complete novice will up and running in minutes.
StairDesigner can calculate a wide range of staircase styles
Newel stairs, with boxed or cut strings, stairs with continuous geometrical wreathed strings and handrails, central cut strings, spiral stairs, curved stairs, etc..
StairDesigner builds a real 3D perspective drawing of stairs
Complete with lighting and wood textures, the 3D model can be opened with any CAD or presentation software to give really great presentations for customers.
Here’s an exemple of a 3D perspective drawing of stairs that comes straight out of StairDesigner:
Building the stairs is very fast!
With a bit of practice I was up and designing a stair in minutes. Once the software is set up for your specific manufacturing details a stair can be calculated and drawn up, complete with workshop drawings, cutting lists and 3D perspective, in 15 minutes!
Of course this stair calculator software has its limits. A lot of detail that goes into stair plans is not drawn as I usually make it. For instance I have special way of making bull nosed first step and risers that StairDesigner just doesn’t draw. To get around this I opened the StairDesigner drawing in Autocad (of course you can use any CAD software that can open the industry standard DXF files) and added the step, very easy, very quick.
So to conclude:
If want to gain time and you’re looking for versatile easy to use stair calculator and design software for drawing automatically: stairs plans and workshop documents, and 3D perspectives, you can’t go wrong with StairDesigner.
A free version is available for downloading. Printing is disabled in the demo version but you can try all the functions and StairDesigner will still calculate your stairs and give you a full 3D perspective!
UPDATE: I’m delighted to announce that we’ve now launched our new Wood Designer website where you can download the free version of StairDesigner plus loads of training resources…stair templates, eBooks, software documentation and 100s of video tutorials. We’ve added a members forum too to help you every step of the way, with your software and design through to install.
If you want to buy the software for your business, you can, and we’ve got all the resources and expert advice on tap to make sure you get the very best out of it. We’ve got some big discounts available at WoodDesigner.org for you too.
If you want to continue to use the free/member version of StairDesigner, we’ll show you how to extract the information you need to build your projects. With Wood Designer membership, I’m excited to say you can now continue to use this version for as long as you like, without ever having to buy.
Here are a few other articles that might interest you:
Commercial Stair Design Guidelines, Criteria and Dimensions
Design and Building stairs
Stair Design rules
Design a Staircase
Home Remedies: The Building Blocks of a Good Stairway
Building good stairways
Progression in manufacturing a spiral stair
Commercial Stair Design – Guidelines, Criteria and Dimensions …
Stair Design and Guidelines