The curtail step.

The curtail is one of the fanciest starts to a stair, it is designed solely for the Monkey’s tail or scroll, the curves in the step match the curves in the handrail. This is one of the most intricate steps to manufacture. The Monkey’s tail will normally be set on either a cast Iron newel post or a “Bird’s cage” of spindles. This will need to be drawn accurately before manufacture to get everything looking right. The ends of these treads will normally be solid so you can bolt the post down through the tread.

The Monkey’s tail set over this style of step will have a wreathing turn leading into the main part of the Monkey’s tail, this will allow the Monkey’s tail to set over the stairs at the same height as the handrail run and thus remove the need for an extended newel post to come up to the raised height of the handrail, This is aesthetically a more pleasing look.

Here again, the scroll will need to be drawn first: In order to be able to design the step to set under it correctly and the spindles to sit on the tread correctly.

Curtail step gallery at bottom of page.

Feature tread curtail ends.
Curtail ends.
Curtail tread
Curtail ends.

Interactive 3D models.

Here we have a few samples to give an idea of the finished article, The spindle spacing will change dependant on the size of the Monkey’s tail and corresponding curtail step.

There are 2 options for supporting the handrail over the curtail end, either a newel post or a bird’s cage of spindles.

Click an image below for the interactive 3D model of that layout.

Some of these are fairly large files and may take a few seconds to load.

Curtail tread ends with newel post and Monkeys' tails.
Curtail step ends with newel post and monkeys’ tails set over 3D.
Curtail tread with Monkeys' tails over birds cage spindles3D
Curtail step with Monkeys’ tails over bird’s cage spindles 3D.

The feature tread with curtail ends.
The feature step with curtail ends. 3D.

Pictures from various jobs that I have been involved in over the years, these may give you an idea of the could design you have to start your stairs or how the tread may have looked if you are re-instating a curtail step end that has been cut off and you are trying to replace it.

Open curtail tread end.


A traditional open curtail step, with a turned newel set over.

Standard 7/8″ 22mm square spindles,



Curtail step with a bird’s cage of turned spindles set around a cast newel.

Replacement curtail end.


A replacement curtail end, ready to reinstate the feature end onto a staircase that had the original removed some years earlier.

Reinstated curtail end.


A newly reinstated curtail step end with a traditional cast newel, Monkey’s tail and 7/8″ 22mm square spindles. This was copied from a neighbours house ensuring the replacement whent back as per the original.

The original handrail was made from Brazilian Mahogony, with this being difficult to acquire, the new Monkey’s tail was made from Sapele Mahogony and stained to match the original.

Traditional open curtail tread.


A traditional curtail step, this was removed to have repairs to the staircase carried out, here you can see the back of the step with the scotia plate, how the riser flows into the curtail block and the bottom of the cast newel.

Traditional curtail close up.


A close up of the underside of the curtail step as in picture 5.

Related articles.

Scroll drawing D3-final

Monkey’s tail – curtail step geometry.

How to draw the monkey’s tail and use its centre line for drawing the curtail tread.

Curtail tread exploded view.

Curtail step construction.

How the curtail step is made and its component parts.