Owner, Kiper Remodeling
The Woodhaven stair gauge is hands-down the best stair layout tool I’ve come across. It belongs in every framing carpenter’s toolbox.
Conventional stringer layout—using a framing square with stair buttons to mark a pattern, then using the pattern to mark the remaining stringers—is inaccurate enough that I have always had to keep a planer, a belt sander, and chisels on hand to fine-tune the result. The conventional method is also time-consuming.
The stair gauge replaces the stair buttons with 1 ½-inch-by-3-inch rectangular clamps made from a hard phenolic material. Because the clamps extend past the edge of the blade, you can mark the first inch of the next rise or run for super-accurate repositioning. A 24-inch-long aluminum straightedge connects the two clamps and bridges any imperfections in the stock. Since using this tool, my layouts have consistently been perfect.
With the stair gauge, I can also mark and cut a stringer about 30 percent faster than with the old method.
A lot of carpenters have asked me about this tool but they balk at the $49.99 price tag. The way I see it, that’s about what it costs to replace a couple of stringers that were cut wrong.
My one caution is that you can’t carelessly throw this tool in the back of the truck: You have to handle it with the same care you would a level. But I’m a big believer that if you take care of your tools, they will take care of you. After all, the tools do the work; we just guide them along.