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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Planning a Miniature Spiral Staircase

Hello and Welcome!!

Spiral Staircases are beautiful...they always, if well planned, create an elegance to a room and provide a conversation piece.  We are so drawn to these coiled, curved shapes that it seems that they may be hard wired into our brains.   They touch our emotions in a way that angular and straight lines just do not.

The process to build a spiral staircase appears to be somewhat difficult, but with a few simple ideas, the basic staircase is quite straightforward to build.

Spiral Staircase build for 3rd Floor

My staircase was inspired by the staircase pictured at the following url:

I've not brought the photo forward, because I am not sure of it's copyright status.  But when I saw that staircase, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the Steampunk Chateau 3rd floor staircases.  My version is a modification, since I didn't bring the top of the stair over the bottom...I liked the single spiral better for my application.

I thought I would pass along what I learned in the process of planning this really was not that much more difficult to accomplish than the other, straight staircases.   I hope the following will make the process easy and straightforward for you if you have always wanted that spiral staircase!

Step 1:  First, you must draw a circle the size of the final spiral staircase you want to build.   I am sure you will be impressed by my sophisticated tools!

Step 2:  Find the center of the circle by drawing a line through the halfway point of the circle.  (if you want to get scientific, check out the web!  I just eyeballed it!  Looking at my photo now, I "might" have missed the mark!  We'll pretend its the shadow effect, OK?)

Step 3:  Use the center point to center a full circle protractor.  Mine is a 360 degree full circle protractor by Helix.  

Step 4:   Using the center line of dots (at an angle to the scale measurements above in the Helix protractor) draw a circle the size of your center "post".   You may not use a post in the final build, but you will need one to gauge a straight center line as you build.   I used a cardboard paper towel tube, so I measured that circumference and then drew the center circle using the dotted slots in the Helix protractor.

Step 5:  Determine how many treads you want in the spiral staircase.  
The tool at can help you decide the number of treads and risers you need based upon the height of the staircase you need. 

Step 6: Determine the angle you need to obtain the correct number of treads required to reach the height you need.

To do this, use the formula "360/x=Y". In the example I am drawing for this demonstration, I am using a good round number of 16 treads, so in the formula, I divided 360 by 16, and get 22.5 as my equally spaced angle to obtain 16 treads.

Step 7:  Placing the protractor at 0 on one of the two lines you have drawn, begin advancing the protractor by 22.5 degrees each time, and then draw a new line.  (you will adjust to whatever measurement you need for the number of treads you require)

Step 8:   Continue clear around the circle until you have reached the original line, advancing exactly 22.5 degrees before drawing each line. The original line should be the same mark as the 360 degree mark.

Step 9:  Now you are ready to adjust the design to meet your requirements.  I wanted an Art Noveau look to the staircase, so I routed the end of the staircase outward.  You can adjust in any way you prefer to create a unique design.

Step 10:  Remember to stop the center of the staircase design where you want the post (or invisible post) to be when you are done.  I was using this paper towel tube as the center point.  This could be adjusted to be narrower or larger, depending upon the requirements for your dollhouse decor.

Now build to print!  As you cut and build, you will want to use the center post ( a real one during the build!) to help you keep your staircase spiraling straight upward.  Butt the end of each cut tread and riser against the center post in order to ensure that vertical rise you will want.

Good Luck on your very own spiral staircase!  I hope this has taken the mystery out of the process!

Until next time!

Doug S

P.S.  For those of you who are wondering what happened to that resin floor is still in work! However, good is hardening well! I just need to buy MORE of the resin...sigh.  But more on that later!!


  1. Hello Doug,
    Thank you for showing how easy it is to make a spiral staircase. It looks stunning and very graceful. I can't wait to see more of your have so many wonderful and unique ideas.
    Big hug,

    1. Thanks Giac...I think I am as anxious as anyone to "see" what I come up with. I am excited about growing the Chateau to resemble the one inside my head. I didn't realize when I started what patience that might require!

  2. Hello Doug,
    I know how you feel. When I started I never thought my manor would become what it has. Take it from me, it is all worth it!
    Big hug,

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  4. Lovely results....well done! And that inspiration staircase is of course's in Paris, you know, at the Musee Gustave Moreau. Ever better in person. :-)

  5. Thank You Juliette! Glad you like it so far. I have a lot of work to do to finish the whole thing off, but that is for later in my build.

    I would LOVE to see the real thing...that staircase is truly incredible, and I am glad to know where it is! I would have guessed it had French influence, but didn't know where it was. If I ever make it to Paris (not likely!), I'll have to look it up!

  6. Our miniature club is doing a Club Challenge this year and we were thinking of spiral stairs. Can I put a link to your page in the newsletter. You have done a great job of explaining what you need as well as making a fabulous staircase.

    1. Hi there Marilyne! What a great idea to do as a group! I would be most honored to have you link to the page in your newsletter. I am glad you find the instructions easy to follow. You will have to send me some pictures of what you all come up with! I can be contacted through whiteknight at live dot com. :0)) Looking forward to seeing something!

  7. Desde Argentina , es hermosa la escalera


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