A Handrail’s Tale

Well, that’s about all that this post will be about. I’ve been missing in action again, but have been working like the dickens behind the scenes. When the house starts coming together and there’s pretty things about – it’s hard to make sawdust in the middle of the living room.       ~ Oh, well onward we march~

1 hand rail brackets

We start by figuring out where we put the handrail. Code says 34 – 36″ above the stair nosing, so we figure that out and mark the wall. Putting the brackets in front of wall studs for strength.

2 rail start

Of course nothing goes smoothly at the MisAdventures project. Looks like the floor guys have the stair nosing out too far.

3 rail layout

So we have two choices here. A- I can move the rial out farther from the wall and miss the nosing, or B- make it more challenging and make some sawdust. OK – B it is. We mark the path we think we need for the handrail.

4 rail cut

Then we make our first cuts with an incredibly dull chisel. Wow – looks like we’ll need some wood putty here.

6 rail cut out finish

But we were lucky and it just needed a little noodling with some sharper tools to make a nice snug fit.

7 rail angle

Now it’s time to calculate the angle that we need to make the horizontal transition to the stair angle. So, being crappy at math – even thought that my brother was a math teacher – we’ll do it the easy way. Determine the angle of the stair and mark the angle on a piece of paper. Add another line the thickness of the handrail. Run a bisecting line through the angle points and set an adjustable angle thing to match and transfer it to your chop saw. No math.

8 rail cut

To get the horizontal 90 cut I used my tapering jig and clamped it in place. I set the blade angle using the previously illustrated angle thing.

9 bolt kit

To hold the joints together I got one of these contraptions.

10 bolt installed

Of course you have to be very accurate to use this type of fastener. I was extremely accurate – I mis-read the instructions and drilled the holes off by 3/8″. It was a nightmare. I got it to work after an hour of fiddling with this thing.

11 rail angle start

Of course with that much time wood-wrestling things didn’t look too pretty at this point.

12 rail angle finish

But with a little sandpaper and a lot of time, we got things back on track.

13 rail AC support

Since I do all of this stuff by myself my monster AC units came in handy as a handrail holder while I wrestled this 16 foot specimen through the bathroom window for multiple test fits.

14 rail test

It took 8 trips through the window until I got the trimming just right.

15 rail paint

So another issue arose as I was attaching the top bed rail to the iron panels. The color of the handrail was too opaque and didn’t show the wood grain. Out the window we go again to strip off the newly applied finish.

16 rail clamps

While that was going on the top handrail was PL glued to the bed rail. You can never have too many clamps when you work by yourself.

17 paint test

While the glue was drying I started refinishing the handrail and oak surround.

18 paint sanding

The floors are white oak and the railing and surrounds are red oak. It took some color adjustments to get the red oak to look like the flooring. The left side shown is after the color coat is applied and then sanded to reveal the grain.

19 rail finish

A paint wash was used to match the red oak rails to the white oak floors. This takes several steps to keep the red oak from turning pink.

20 fail angle close up

The new finish shows off the grain of the wood and gives it a white cast to match the floors. After the final face sanding of the joint, this handrail is finally ready to be attached permanently.

21 rail finish

Well, and there it’s done – a long post for a long and tedious project. How I miss the days I could whip out my belt sander and make some sawdust in the middle of the house.

Hang in there – we’ll add some stair treads next.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “A Handrail’s Tale

    • Thanks Dan – I have lots of patience. Come to think of it, it’s really my only good quality. I’ll get the stair treads in there so I can close this chapter. Hope all is well.

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