Sunday, July 8, 2018

DIY Display Risers

Hi, everyone! I was getting ready for another round of craft fairs - the one I just did was for the Fourth of July Festival in Monmouth, Oregon on July 3-4 - when I thought y'all might like to see what I was working on to prepare!

This was my first two-day show (that I can remember) and my second outdoor show. I learned at my first outdoor show that my foamcore risers, which work great indoors, are prone to flying when outside. Whoops!

Luckily, I have an amazingly supportive husband, and he helped me build a wooden set of risers based on this pin from Pinterest. It came together pretty easily - I am a novice when it comes to power tools, but I got this cut out and put together myself. My husband double-checked my measurements for me, and he helped hold wood while I was cutting, and that was it. :)

I couldn't find a source, unfortunately.
The original pin linked to some very unrelated site. :(

Tools Used:
Circular saw
Electric drill/driver
Carpenter's square
Yardstick or measuring tape
Wood glue

One 4'x4' piece of 1/2" plywood
Two 3/4" square dowels, 3' long
24 screws (1" long)

I measured the area I wanted the risers to cover on my table, as well as how high I wanted them to go, then sketched out a rough plan for the supports. I wound up drawing a 24"x18" rectangle with the zig-zag stair pattern through it. The spaces where the steps will go are 6" wide and 6" apart (height-wise). Here's a couple photos of the sketches to show y'all what I'm talking about:

Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the piece in progress. I was in such a rush to get it done! I'll describe it the best I can...

Step One was to mark out, on the plywood, where I wanted to cut out the big rectangle.

Then I cut it out. I used the circular saw for this.

Next, I centered my circular saw blade above where I wanted to do the tricky "staircase" cuts. I lifted the blade a bit, got it going, then lowered it. This cut a nice little slit where I needed it. The two halves of my staircase supports were still connected at the end, so I used the jigsaw to finish the cuts - I just inserted the blade into the cuts from the circular saw, and cut through the last inch or so on each end of the cuts. Worked like a charm!

Fourthly, I took a look at my leftover plywood for cutting out the steps. I had a nice piece that was 24" by about 36" that I could get by following one of the earlier cuts from the staircases, and I decided that'd work great for the steps. I only needed three steps, but that gave me four, which was great because you never know when you need a spare.

So, my steps were 6" deep by about 36" wide. I measured the big chunk I had just cut off, quartered it off into steps 6" deep, then made my cuts with the circular saw.

Then I took the dowels, marked them off every five inches, and cut them. These would be the supports under the steps that go on the staircases to hold everything together.

I sanded down all the edges to minimize splinters, then started measuring. My cuts were not the straightest (pretty darn close, though), so I used the carpenter's square to measure from a clean edge to where I wanted the outer edge of my staircase to go, then used the square again to mark two straight lines across the bottom of both ends of the steps. My plywood was 1/2" wide, so the lines were about 1/2" wide (erring a bit on the side of being too wide, so that they'd actually fit on the staircases).

Next, I placed a piece of the dowel on the underside of a step, lining it up with the line I had marked earlier, and clamped it into place on both ends.

Then, I pre-drilled holes where the screws were to go, starting with the dowel and going down through the step (two holes total, per dowel). In hindsight, I should have slapped some painter's tape or masking tape on the step to prevent splintering. Live and learn!

I then removed the clamps, slapped some wood glue on the dowel between the holes, and lined everything back up. If I had glued where the holes were in the dowel, I wouldn't have been able to line them up with the holes in the step. Once it was in place, I clamped the dowel again, then flipped the step over and screwed it to the dowel from the top side of the step. I repeated that for a total of twelve times - four dowels per step, for three steps.

Once that was all done and dried, I stained every edge I could reach. I didn't get between the dowels very well, but they're hidden by the staircase anyway, so it all worked out. I haven't made the time to seal the risers yet, but that would be the next step. You can stain them whatever shade you want, or paint them, or leave them plain - it's up to you - but I would definitely seal them.

Here's the finished product:

And here's it in action at the Fourth of July Festival:

Skill-wise, this was a fairly easy project, but it was definitely time-consuming. Totally worth it, though.

Have you built your own crafty project before? Tell me about it in the comments!