A while back I thought about posting on the Wheaton tread template linked below, but the tool looked like more trouble than it was worth. Then the other day I saw the above tread template on Hometime and thought, “Now this is something I can post.”
Why do you need a tread template? If you’re carpeting the stairs or have an open staircase, you probably don’t have to scribe both sides of the tread to fit in place — but if you’re working on an enclosed staircase, you either need to take a bunch of measurements, make a cardboard template, or use a tread template like this one, because you know there ain’t ever been a wall built perfectly straight.
Collins Tool’s tread template is a simple and very portable jig consisting of two 12″ plates and a scrap piece of 1×4. You slide the plates on either end of the 1×4 after cutting it a few inches shy of the final tread width. Then you simply push the plates so they touch the back of the riser, adjust them so they butt against the wall, and tighten the clamps — you have an exact template of the tread you need.
This isn’t a tool you’d use every day, but the $54 it costs will probably save you a few headaches.