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Forum topic by AandCstyle posted 06-25-2018 05:07 PM 1009 views 0 times favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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AandCstyle

3151 posts in 2375 days


06-25-2018 05:07 PM

This is EarlS’s fault. He recently suggested that I replace my existing banister with one that would match the furniture in the house. I am considering it, but I have some questions. This is the existing one.

1. You can see the plugs that cover screws holding the newel and the base board in place. Do you think construction adhesive was also used? If it was, how much of a job would it be to remove the base board?
2. I can’t see how the newels at the top of the stairs are attached. Any ideas?
3. The railing is almost 15 feet long. Is it acceptable to make it in two pieces and use a scarf joint?
4. I know a few people here on LJs have done banisters. Does anyone have any helpful tips or tricks to suggest?
5. Am I crazy for even considering this?

I will probably have more questions if I decide to proceed, but this does it for now. Thanks for any suggestions/guidance.

-- Art


36 replies so far

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EarlS

1523 posts in 2466 days


#1 posted 06-25-2018 05:22 PM

Art – thanks for giving me the credit…....anything I can do to help out a fellow LJ find a fun project….. ;+)

As I recall when I built my bannister, the newel posts were screwed into the subfloor. I took out the entire bannister and then made the base fit the opening. There are some clever solutions for attaching newel posts and railing on websites like stairparts.com.

You could probably make an intermediate post to span the 15’. I spent a lot of time looking at pictures and browsing the stair websites before I jumped in. It was a bit of a challenge but I’m happy with the results. The most difficult part was deciding what look I wanted to design. Every time I thought I found something, I found something else I liked better.

I think I posted the bannister project.

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

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Grumpymike

2289 posts in 2433 days


#2 posted 06-25-2018 05:36 PM

Art, I cannot, for the life of me, see why you would want to replace that beautiful Oak railing …

1) I would pop a few screws and see it the base board wiggles … If not there may be const. glue.
2) Remove the plug to reveal the screw, remove the screw and the cover plate and you will see the fastener
3) Yep it’s done all the time … on lessor grade rails …. (Consider reusing your rail and redoing the pilasters).
4) No comment here
5) Yeppers I would think so …

Just sharing my thoughts.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

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pintodeluxe

5741 posts in 2931 days


#3 posted 06-25-2018 05:36 PM

I doubt if any construction adhesive was used.

The newel posts are likely attached to the framing. This will be exposed once the trim boards are removed. I attached my newel posts with long timber-mate lag screws. One visitor described the railing as “hell for stout” so I guess it worked.

Sometimes the newel is on a threaded rod, and you can unscrew it once the hand rail is removed (usually results in a wobbly railing when they’re built this way).

I wouldn’t skarf the railing. Either use a singe piece, or add an intermediate newel post.

Are you crazy to build this? Yes, I think so. Building stair railings is a sub-specialty within the carpentry field. Many carpenters won’t touch railings. At least you have a 90 degree corner. I have a 90 and two 45’s with multliple landings. It would have been easier to build a new house. Compound angles increased the complexity of my particular project.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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bdresch

148 posts in 1726 days


#4 posted 06-25-2018 05:40 PM

Upper newel likely has 1/2 lag threads sticking out and threaded into the structure below. Once you cut off the railing you can probably unscrew it.

I wouldn’t put in intermediate newels on the stairs. That doesn’t meet code and would look astetically looks wrong. The railing needs to be uninterrupted.

You can buy premade railing in long sections. If you need longer than you can easily buy a scarf joint would be great otherwise google rail bolts.

Your not crazy for trying. I’ve built box newels before and any competent woodworker can made newels better and cheaper than what’s available off the shelf.

You might want to grab a book and read up a bit. Some of the layout work associated with stairs isn’t immediately obvious. The book linked below was helpful to me.

https://www.amazon.com/Building-Stairs-Andrew-Engel/dp/156158892XWe

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CampD

1709 posts in 3604 days


#5 posted 06-25-2018 06:04 PM

First off, I take it you intend to replace the posts with a more A&C style boxed look. 1. option is to just build the box and slide it over (really not as hard as it sounds) or replace the entire railing, a lot more work.

Now about how its fastened. Code requires that the posts be solid as a rock, those two screws (plugs) are most likely secondary fasteners (could have construction adhesive) most have a dowel that goes into the floor framing and secured from below (more lags) or some type of bracket. Check in the basement under the stairs.

The railing to the post; will have a lag screw/bolt combo that was drilled from the underside and than plugged, same fro the upper post. Dig out the plug and its a small hole and a specialty wrench is used.

Balisters/spindles. The holes are drilled deeper into the railing, to install them you just push them all the way in and insert the dowel at the bottom into the hole, most, well I did only applied glue to the bottom and maybe a pin nail at the top.

This can get you started, if you have any questions just ask as I’ve installed close to a hundred sets of stairs.

-- Doug...

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CampD

1709 posts in 3604 days


#6 posted 06-25-2018 06:10 PM

The railing on the stairs is called a Grab rail, has to be 32” in height and one continuous piece, you know so you can slide your hands down it.

The tops railings on the landings are a Guard rail, min 36” in Height.

-- Doug...

View AandCstyle's profile

AandCstyle

3151 posts in 2375 days


#7 posted 06-25-2018 09:54 PM

Thanks for all the replies. I think this is beyond my capabilities mainly due to the requirement to have the railing be a single piece. I have never seen white oak longer than 14 feet, much less than have the ability in my shop to machine it. Dang, I was really looking forward to designing a beautiful banister for the house.

-- Art

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CampD

1709 posts in 3604 days


#8 posted 06-25-2018 10:19 PM

I’ve made custom railings by gluing 1/2” strips together, that way you can use 8’ – 10’ lengths, just on that stair run it has to be one contineus length, no post in the middle.
The codes are specific on a grab rail, easily looked up.
BOCA standards.

-- Doug...

View JimYoung's profile

JimYoung

294 posts in 1705 days


#9 posted 06-26-2018 12:13 AM

Hi Art,

Before you throw in the towel, do a little more research. I know that big orange sells stair parts that you can go look at. This should give you an idea of what is involved. I have a similar railing in my home, and it is laminated from several, staggered pieces with finger joints, so that is definitely allowed by code. I have 9’ ceiling, like you, and there is an extra post in the middle, but it only supports the railing from the bottom so as to not break up the railing.

My guess is that the newel posts don’t have any glue on them. I watch the guy install mine when we built this house, and it was just bolted into the framing. So if your design can mount the same way as the current posts, that should take away most of the structural questions. You have the angle from the current railing, and the two other sections are straight.

My $0.02

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

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AandCstyle

3151 posts in 2375 days


#10 posted 06-26-2018 04:07 PM

Amazingly, I found 16’ white oak handrail at HD. They also have shorter lengths. Thanks, Jim! :)

Doug, nothing is visible in the basement because the post sits on the bottom tread. I watched some vids today, but it still isn’t clear to me how the posts are connected to the floor. The above referenced rail has a fillet and the groove is 1.75”. Does that mean that I will need to make the spindles 1.75” square? I was thinking more like 1.25”.

-- Art

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

2253 posts in 1340 days


#11 posted 06-26-2018 04:58 PM

Hey Art, definitely go for it! You passed the mental hurdle of those shutters and really need to up your game 8^)

Make that Domino earn its keep!

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

1523 posts in 2466 days


#12 posted 06-26-2018 05:22 PM

I like Splinter’s thinking. Surprisingly enough, once you get going on a project like this all of the things you were worried about work themselves out and you end up with a gorgeous bannister.

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

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AandCstyle

3151 posts in 2375 days


#13 posted 06-26-2018 05:29 PM

Splint, that’s what I’m talking about! Is this in your house? Can you send another pic that is straight on? Did you make the handrail yourself? Tell me more! :)

-- Art

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splintergroup

2253 posts in 1340 days


#14 posted 06-26-2018 08:07 PM

Yep, just finished this yesterday, sorry for the mess, the cleaning staff hadn’t been through before I took the photo…..

JK!

It’s just a picture I liked when I was looking at ways to dress up some newel posts. Seriously, my best ideas come from photo searches where I adopt elements I like and alter/redo the elements I’m not 100% with.

You’ll have no problem building something with even more style.

I think you would be better off skipping on that HD handrail and go for a more A&C built up flat style. With that you could scarf boards together for length and the build up with offset joints would keep the assembly strong.

May your google fu guide you!

Addendum:

You could use the HD rail, just maybe cut off the lower 1/2” or so and fasten it to a flat handrail base that is secured to your balusters (they could be any size then)

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AandCstyle

3151 posts in 2375 days


#15 posted 06-26-2018 10:57 PM

Thanks, Splint, I guess I have been thinking of a typical railing and not something in the A&C style. Making one “boxier” would mean that I wouldn’t need to use the router table which eliminates most of the length issue. I am going to the Stickley Museum in about a month so I will hope to see something there that strikes my fancy.

This is really starting to look like something I can do. :) I just need learn how to mount the two top posts so they are rock solid and I will have it mentally under control. The final remaining step will be to get the approval of SWMBO.

-- Art

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