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Miraculous Staircase – Carpentry and Woodworking

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Zig Ziglar (1926 – )…Motivational author and speaker


Miraculous Staircase of Santa Fe NM


The Miraculous Staircase of Santa Fe New Mexico is an amazing piece of carpentry and woodworking. If this work of art were built today, the reaction of people would be the same as it was when this set of stairs was completed in 1878. People who actually see this spiraled staircase instantly have a feeling of admiration and marvel. This is exactly how I felt as a young carpentry apprentice during a cross county motorcycle trip to Sante Fe in the summer of 1978.

Miraculous Staircase - Wooworking - Carpentry

Miraculous Staircase - Woodworking - CarpentryThe Miraculous Staircase is located at The Loretto Chapel in old Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It is here that any aspiring or accomplished woodworker / carpenter can truly appreciate being a part of the craft of woodworking. The spiral staircase has two complete turns and has the shape of a spring. The wooden staircase is supported only where the top section is attached to the choir loft and where it base is attached on the chapel’s main floor. The design and construction of the Miraculous Staircase have left engineers and designers puzzled as to how the staircase can function without any structural support or bracing.


The Miraculous Staircase consists of 33 wooden steps. Two years after the spiral staircase was installed, a beautiful wooden handrail was added by other talented craftsmen. This amazing spiral railing is supported by spindles turned on a wood lathe. The underside of the stairs appears to be a veneer that follows the circular pattern. Keep in mind that no nails or screws were used by the woodworker in the construction of the staircase.


Miraculous Staircase - Woodworking - CarpentryThe master carpenter who built the Miraculous Staircase is unknown and he was said to have only a few tools at his disposal. However, anybody could see that he was loaded with skill, experience, and desire. As an apprentice carpenter I knew I had the desire. I just needed skills and experience. This confirmed my belief that it was essential for me to work and learn from the best craftsmen I could find. Today, I am grateful to my instructor and to all the talented journeyman carpenters and woodworkers that I have had the pleasure of working with during my career.

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