Spiral Stairs

Four different ways of making spiral stairs.  Stone Corner Posts, Granite Poles, and Wood Planks.
Four different ways of making spiral stairs. Stone Corner Posts, Granite Poles, and Wood Planks.

Making spiral stairs is a special case instead of just your average copying and pasting in Toolbox, and complex enough in their own way to get their own separate guide.

A lot of people like spiral staircases in their dimensions, it adds a certain elegance and flair, as opposed to straight stairs, or the premade stairs.  You can make spiral stairs out of just about anything, and it will usually work.  In the screenshot above, I’ve used a variety of building blocks to make four distinct sets of spiral staircases.  There’s a set from Stone Corner Posts, Granite Poles, and two different sets made from Wood Planks.

The primary difference between the two sets of stairs made from planks is that one was made with Toolbox, and the other, I had to do the lion’s share of making the stairs by hand, with only the Y axis offset and rotation being done in Toolbox.

The reason for that is the center point.  There are a couple of reasons I like to make stairs out of poles.  The first is because square edges tend to snag unless the step height is just right–usually less than .25, which racks up a significant number of items over a big staircase.  With poles, since they don’t snag, you can set the step height as much as .4.  Over the course of a grand staircase, that’s a lot of items saved.  However, items like Stone and Wood Corner Posts also tend to not snag, and they are more realistic stairs, being squarish-edged.

At any rate, let’s look at how to make a set of spiral stairs, using Stone Corner Posts (or any item, where the center point is at one end):

Spiral stairs like this aren’t too much more complex than a standard copy and paste with offfsets.  For this set of stairs, the steps are as follows:

1.  Place a Corner Post, set the scale and rotation (90 degrees in Roll, for this example) and press COPY.  I used 30 pieces for this set, so I went ahead and took the other 29 posts out of my bags now.

2.  Select your offsets.  10 degrees is about the widest you’d really go with a set of spiral stairs, otherwise there will be a large gap that visitors will fall through.  Step height, for a square edge, is .2 in this example.  Notice that there’s no movement offsets in either the X or Z axes, that’s because they’re not necessary.  Only to raise each block a prescribed amount, and to set the rotation for the curve of the stairs.

3.  Select the items you wish to paste.  If you’re using DT, you can skip this step, and select the options to offset multiple items and use new items.  The offsets, however, remain the same.

4.  Press PASTE, and watch your beautiful spiral stairs come to life.

I saved this after making it, because I only want to do it one time!
I saved this after making it, because I only want to do it one time!

There are a couple of ways to make spirals where the center point is in the actual center.  One way is to do it as shown at the top, where you wind up with a double spiral, in which case the directions are exactly the same as for the Corner Post stairs shown above.  The other way is a single spiral, and the directions are mostly the same, but there’s two primary differences:

1:  To get the curve even, the copy and paste works best doing it one at a time, unless you (unlike me) have a degree in advanced mathematics to be able to figure the offset in X and Z, which will change directions past the 90 degree point from the original plank.

2: To make the edges line up on both sides, once the height and rotation has been set, each plank must then be lined up manually.  This makes a spiral staircase made from planks a time consuming affair.  But when they’re finished, they look both elegant and more realistic than stairs made from poles.  If you do go to the trouble of making a single spiral set of stairs from planks, I highly recommend saving it as a set, so you only have to make it one time.

So spirals, while a little more complex than the average copy and paste or spin, really aren’t as hard as they look like they ought to be.  As always, I recommend experimentation, to find the step height and rotational offset that works best for you, and then you’ll be whipping out spiral stairs like they’re going out of style!

Happy Building!

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