I have a ~100 year old stairway that has a couple treads cracked down the middle. One of them has a little give to it when stepping on it. They would be difficult to replace entirely, and I am worried brining in a professional (who would be forced to bring our stairs up to code) would cost a fortune.

Watching this video from This Old House gave me the idea to drill into the treads and insert dowels to add support, then seal the crack with epoxy. Would this work/be advisable? Any other suggestions?

  • Is the crack running the length of the board or across the board (i.e. In the up/down stair direction)? Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 17:21
  • The cracks run the length of the treads. One at an angle, 2" to 5" into the tread (the bad one). The other perfectly in the middle of the tread.
    – woemler
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 2:42

1 Answer 1


My first thought is a dowel, glued in place. This will stiffen it some, but leave the crack. And epoxy can be on the brittle side.

So next, I thought, why not use a metal dowel? It adds more stiffness, more strength, but you still have the crack.

Another idea was a piece of all thread rod. Screw it right into the hole. This will give a great deal of holding power, preventing the crack from widening. But still you have that crack to fill.

Finally, I realized the perfect solution. McFeeleys sells it, in the form of a LONG screw, that is threaded only on the bottom half. Pre-drill a hole to get it started, and countersink it, so you can put a plug in afterwards to hide it completely. Then use the threads to draw the crack together as the screw tightens down. Add some glue (or epoxy if you prefer) into the crack before this operation, and the board will stay solid forever.

You can buy these screws in various lengths as needed.


  • I had considered metal dowels, but I think I like this idea better. Smaller hole to drill, therefor less chance of screwing up, and the screw will draw the split wood together nicely. I'll give it a shot!
    – woemler
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 2:41
  • These timber ties are great for this application. Just be sure to predrill the tread carefully so the screw goes in true and doesn't exit the wood at an angle. Use some tight bond II wood glue in the cracks before you tighten up the screws. You can then use a dowel to fill the drill hole, sand and finish. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 10:18
  • BTW, Timber tie screws are avail at Lowes or Home Depot. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 10:19

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