1-inch scrapers and detail (triangle) sanders are a must!
Make sure you measure your rise to run before you start installing, have a Stair Wizard or angle finder, and measure each step before you start cutting a bunch.
Don’t be afraid to charge because they will always take longer than you think. You want to be happy doing them, not ticked off ’cause you didn’t charge enough!
Invest in tools that get you there fairly quickly. Make sure you have a good file.
Pull the spindles whenever possible.
Learn some carpentry skills to properly do more complex details. There’s lots of money to be had by doing more than basic work. Also far less competition. And buy or build a good marking jig!
Measure two or three times before you make a cut!
Learn how to use a scraper; it will be your best bud.
Use a stair jig for installs—it lets you find the angle of the skirts and gives you exact length at the same time. Use a sharp utility blade to mark uncut treads; this helps avoid chips and is more accurate than a pencil line.
Steven Triplett Jr.
Finish everything you can in the shop. I see a lot of young guys staining and finishing in place.
They are a ton of handwork, it almost always takes longer than you think. Make sure to not bid too low. Also make sure you have a very good vibrating sander!
Take your time—mistakes are often made when you’re rushing.
Glue, glue, glue.
Charge 50% more than you think you should, especially if you’re sanding risers!
Be passionate about the work you’re doing; it’s someone else’s house you’re working in.
Buy a Metabo paint stripper; it makes sanding stairs enjoyable!
Check your heights.
Take your time, and don’t take on a job beyond your skill level.