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Forum topic by Don46 posted 08-06-2009 10:25 PM 2912 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Don46

43 posts in 3062 days


08-06-2009 10:25 PM

Gentlemen: I’m guessing someone out there can help me with this. I hope I’m not on the wrong forum for this question.

I recently put together an 11+ foot long red oak handrail, with end pieces that are called starting easing (at the bottom of the stair) and overhand easing at the top. You can see what I’m talking about here: http://stairparts.net/general-stair-fittings.htm

It is quite a trick to get these parts put together properly. I found help on Youtube and it all came together beautifully, I must say. I matched the stain carefully to the partial handrail on the other side of the staircase. I put on 3 coats of polyurethane and then carefully installed the brackets in the wall and went to mount it …
only to discover that the two end pieces were not parallel to the floor. The bottom end was pointing up toward the ceiling and the upper end toward the floor! It seems that my staircase is on a 9 inch pitch, which means a more gentle slope, rising 9 inches per 12 inch run, instead of 12 inches, which I assume is the standard. The pitch and angle measurement device (I bought and used too late!) also tells me that the pitch is 9 inches and the angle is not quite 40 degrees, instead of 45.

I have tried loud cursing but this does no good. I will need to take it apart by finesse and force and either find new pre-cut end pieces or … and here is where I need expert advice … somehow re-cut the end pieces in such a way as to reduce the angle by 5 ? degrees and make it fit together. Where and how to cut on the curved end is what puzzles me. I’m having trouble visualizing what to do and would very much appreciate advice.

Has anyone out there wrestled with the problem of a non standard staircase pitch?

—Don

-- --Don, Columbia, SC


13 replies so far

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PurpLev

8523 posts in 3109 days


#1 posted 08-06-2009 10:57 PM

might not even need to take the rail out of the wall. you might be able to use a miter box and a hand mitersaw and cut the ends of the rail and the mating pieces at a different angle than they are now to reduce the angle of the starting easing and overhand easing and make them parallel to the floor. if nobody else will make more sense of this – I’ll try and sketch up something later on and post a picture of what I mean.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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GFYS

711 posts in 2931 days


#2 posted 08-06-2009 11:05 PM

Stairway “pitch” is generally determined by the architect who generally illustrate the stair construction according to parameters set by the houseing athority in whos jurisdiction the structure is being constructed.
Last I checked the code for residential stairways in habitable spaces and egress have a small varience but basically requires a maximum rise on risers of 7 3/4” and a minimum run of 10”. These may vary fractionally with limits.
What the stairway rise/run actually is…is anyones guess. This is where you get to show your lumberjocklyness.
Unfortunatley for you the precut angles were too large rather than too small which means recutting will make the run shorter. You can add a piece but everytime you go up the stairs you’ll be asking yourself “why didn’t I check it first!? Hope this helps.

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Don46

43 posts in 3062 days


#3 posted 08-06-2009 11:09 PM

Thanks.
Believe me I’ve been cursing myself about not checking this out first. The pitch and angle measurement tool I just bought cost $6.95.
What irks me some is that the supplier seems to assume all stairways are on the standard pitch. But any that are not will not work with angled easings.

I just edited and posted a corrected version of my problem: my staircase has a 9 inch pitch and the standard is apparently 12 inch.

-- --Don, Columbia, SC

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Milo

869 posts in 2779 days


#4 posted 08-06-2009 11:10 PM

I need picture to help. I’m terrible at visualizing from descriptions. Can you put some up of the pieces and the stairwell?

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

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Don46

43 posts in 3062 days


#5 posted 08-07-2009 12:10 AM

The existing handrail based on 9 inch pitch:

Existing Handrail  9 inch pitch

The new handrail based on 12 ? inch pitch
New Handrail based on 12 inch pitch,  needs to be cut to fit 9 inch pitch,

-- --Don, Columbia, SC

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GFYS

711 posts in 2931 days


#6 posted 08-07-2009 12:33 AM

:( It’s pretty though. shortening the piece won’t make it unusable since its only mounted to the wall with brackets. Cutting the radius out and shortening it is the only remedy I can see. Does the end at the top of the stairs kill into the wall similarly. I could draw a solution of the process with accurate lengths with more information. Is a 12 pitch meaning 12 inches rise in 12 inches of run and a 9 pitch 9 inches in 12 inches? looks like that’s the case. My solution will shorten it about 3 inches (guessing) The other solution is to buy the correct radius. the correct one would be a larger radius. ....or make one. erm…two. I need to know the length of the radius piece.

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GFYS

711 posts in 2931 days


#7 posted 08-07-2009 12:49 AM

Actually I think I can do it with only one cut on each end of the hand rail. I need the length of the radius preferably at its longest points at the bottom .

After looking at your pictures I have noticed that the existing hand rail already has the exact piece you need. Measure it and recut your new radius piece to match it.

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Don46

43 posts in 3062 days


#8 posted 08-07-2009 02:19 AM

Dan,
You are right, the object will be to imitate the curved part of the existing rail.
The way these fittings go together, every cut is at 90 degrees to the rail. They mill the curved parts to make the turns, but none of the cuts are at any angle other than 90 degrees.

So, if I follow you, the object would be to make one cut somewhere between the two seams in the new handrail so that it is 90 degrees to that point in the curve and at the point where it would bring the end to horizontal. I would then (or before) separate the end piece where I joined them (with glue + a bolt) at the second seam on the right in the picture of the new handrail. Then I would bolt and glue the newly cut portion to the rail. This is the one cut solution you are recommending.
It will shorten the rail some but if I make it even w the existing rail on the bottom, the top can be a little short. In fact I cut off some of the straight rail earlier and I could add back on whatever I need to bring it up to the correct height on the top end.

Am I on the same page with you?
Thanks Don

-- --Don, Columbia, SC

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GFYS

711 posts in 2931 days


#9 posted 08-07-2009 03:51 AM

exactly Don. I imagine the radius of the old and the new hand rail are the same. You could measure the length of the old one and cut the new one that length and it would produce a finished rail that is the same pitch…or very close. Cutting only one end of the radius might not produce the “pitch” precisely but I think any difference would be negligable. For all practical purposes…if it looks right…it IS right.

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Don46

43 posts in 3062 days


#10 posted 08-07-2009 04:14 AM

Thanks Dan. You and the others have helped me think this through.
Meanwhile, at a building supply store today I came across this very useful guide which tells you exactly where to cut. I have it scanned as a pdf file, but I don’t know how to upload it. I think it would be very useful for anyone dealing with stairs and handrails. let me try to explain.

1. create a “pitch block”, a triangle that replicates the run, rise and rake (slope) of your stairway
2. place the flat end of the easing (curved end piece) on a level surface and place the pitch block under it with the narrow end toward the end. Where the block and the easing touch is your cut line. Mark top of rail.
3. turn the pitch block so the hypotenuse (end opposite the 90 degree angle) crosses the cut line on top of rail. This provides the angle of the cut.

There is some other useful information on this sheet. If someone can tell me how to upload a pdf file or otherwise make this available to people, I think it would be very useful to others who might learn from my mistake.

—Don

-- --Don, Columbia, SC

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Don46

43 posts in 3062 days


#11 posted 08-07-2009 04:36 AM

Run, Rise and Rake Here is an image of the document I mentioned.
Run Rise Rake

-- --Don, Columbia, SC

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a1Jim

115201 posts in 3037 days


#12 posted 08-07-2009 05:06 AM

You’ve got it handled Don

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View doughan's profile

doughan

96 posts in 2051 days


#13 posted 04-23-2011 10:29 PM

There is another way to do that.
Put a bullseye level on the volute where you want it to be level with the floor or the last step.Lay your rail so it touches the noses of the treads.When you hold the volute so the bulleye level right level the place where the up easing and the straight rail touch is your tangent.Use a square laid on the straight rail to mark your angle on the curve starting at the tangent.This way you will always cut a 90 on the end of the straight rail.
no pitch block is needed.saves time and materials

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