Necessity is the Mother of Invention

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Project by EarlS posted 12-30-2015 10:35 PM 2241 views 8 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I know the title sounds a lot more glamorous than Arts and Crafts handrail. However, there is a connection.

I’ve been mulling over a handrail that would match the railing I completed earlier this year. Adding to the issue is the overall length needed is 17 ft and don’t have anything remotely long enough in 5/4 or 6/4 cherry to use.

After sorting and resorting my available lumber I realized that I had several 4-5 ft boards left over from other projects that I could string together to make the length. Problem #1 solved – I have enough lumber for the project.

Problem #2 took a little longer and a lot of trying out various looks until my wife agreed with the look of a half-lap joint pinned with 3/8 square G&G plugs made out of walnut. Just to add a little more style I also added a center spline to the joint, also made from walnut with a 1/16” pillow profile.

The second picture shows the relevant pieces. I over-sized the center piece to make the fit a little easier. From there it was a matter of making the 1/2 laps using the stacked dado set and mortising out the square plugs. I wound up making 5 sections and the top and bottom return pieces. I assembled the top half and the bottom half as separate sections and then checked the fit on the stairs before I glued the entire piece together. I did wind up having to add a small section to make the final length. The sides and ends were rounded over with a 3/8 round over bit and everything got plenty of hand sanding to make a smooth piece with no sharp edges. I applied some sealer, a couple of coats of Watco cherry oil, and followed up with 2 light coats of polyurethane. After buffing the finish out with a 1500 grit pad, I used Behlens wax to bring out the luster.

So you see, necessity drove the need for the handrail, but in true LJ fashion, I was able to “invent” some design elements to make it a little more visually interesting. You can also see my helpers, Charlie and Linus, in the last picture.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

16 comments so far

View AandCstyle's profile


2540 posts in 1679 days

#1 posted 12-30-2015 10:50 PM

Earl, generally, I think many GG projects are over done with too many design features, but I think your railing and hand rail look just right. Your work is incredibly well done. Thanks for sharing!

-- Art

View Richard's profile


1871 posts in 2112 days

#2 posted 12-30-2015 11:18 PM

Very nice job on the rail and it seems to match the rest of the work very well.

View htl's profile


2033 posts in 581 days

#3 posted 12-31-2015 12:11 AM

Really nicely done, love the look and it fits in just right.

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

View Mean_Dean's profile


4943 posts in 2569 days

#4 posted 12-31-2015 01:30 AM

I love this G&G handrail—haven’t seen that before! You didn’t overdo the details which looks better to me, and your helpers look like they approve, too!

-- Dean

View majuvla's profile


8714 posts in 2289 days

#5 posted 12-31-2015 07:04 AM

Realy outstanding work! I appretiate the effort you put in it.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

3538 posts in 1983 days

#6 posted 12-31-2015 07:31 AM


It looks really nice and way better then the ones sold in stores.

-- Please help me help other Vets click..> is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

742 posts in 2853 days

#7 posted 12-31-2015 01:54 PM

Can’t go wrong with G&G style and solutions. Love the sandwiched half lap

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View david38's profile


2391 posts in 1765 days

#8 posted 12-31-2015 03:11 PM

looks great

View helluvawreck's profile


22687 posts in 2288 days

#9 posted 12-31-2015 03:15 PM

It’s a very interesting project. Nice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Freddy B.'s profile

Freddy B.

6 posts in 606 days

#10 posted 12-31-2015 06:40 PM

Looks awesome, and a great solution to the length issue you described.
I’m gonna store this idea for future use for sure!
Thanks for sharing.


View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 2786 days

#11 posted 12-31-2015 06:58 PM

Great looking project. Well executed and a great idea to use the shorts to fabricate the rail.

View JoeinGa's profile (online now)


7383 posts in 1429 days

#12 posted 12-31-2015 07:11 PM

Looks great and I really like the dark contrasting piece sandwiched into the half-laps !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2999 days

#13 posted 12-31-2015 07:19 PM

Nice work Earl,super looking handrail .

-- Custom furniture

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 1714 days

#14 posted 12-31-2015 09:27 PM

Outstanding job. It really turned out beautiful.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Jeff Mazur's profile

Jeff Mazur

69 posts in 726 days

#15 posted 12-31-2015 09:29 PM

I agree with Art 100% – a lot of G&G pieces are too busy to suit my tastes, but your handrail is very beautiful and tastefully done. Makes me want to revisit other G&G designs I’ve seen and not quite liked, to see if they can be transformed into a “G&G Lite” look, like your handrail. Happy New Year!

-- Woodworking is a beautiful, physical, cerebral, and noble art.

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