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Old 07-10-2012, 11:39 AM   #1
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Basement Stair Rail and Baluster Question


Guys, I'm finishing the basement and have one wall of my stairway taken down and planned on putting in a handrail banister up like what you typically see on the first floor. My question is how to I start going about getting the cap, spindle and handrail installed? My biggest hang up is how I get the spindles to fit onto/into the stairway cap (not even sure if that is the right name). I'm assuming the spindles typically have a dowel fit at the bottom, but when this is installed into an angled cap now, I'm not sure how that works. Maybe I get spindles without the dowel for an angled cap like this, cut the bottom of the spindle to the correct angle and then do what? Would I drill a hole in the cap and then screw the spindle in from the bottom. I'd like to get the spindles to match my upstairs spindles, which means they are square at the bottom and round at the top. Any guidance or direction would be appreciated. I've done a search on this first and surprisingly didn't find much, although found the way not to do it Stair ballisters

what my stairway essentially looks like:


this is the configuration I'm going for, with the cap, spindles and handrail.


some other examples that are similar in concept:




Thanks in advance guys,
Andrew

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Old 07-10-2012, 07:20 PM   #2
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Basement Stair Rail and Baluster Question


There are basically three ways to do it. You can plow out the wall cap to the width of the balusters 1/4" deep, pitch cut them at the bottom, and insert them in the groove. Use a brad gun to toenail the bottom of the balusters. Then use a fillet strip to fill in the rest of the plow. Or, you can do without the plow and just pitch cut the bottoms of the balusters to fit right on the face of the cap. Another way to do it, which I like the best personally, is to cap the wall first. Do the top of the wall and make a bisect on the cap and run it down plumb to the floor. Then I make a half lap on the newel and attach it to the knee wall. Then apply a shoe rail, which you can buy already plowed out for just this purpose, and install that between the newel and the wall. Sometimes the shoe rail will even come with the fillet. Then install balusters. Try to keep the rail parallel with the knee wall, if possible.

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Old 07-10-2012, 08:27 PM   #3
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Basement Stair Rail and Baluster Question


This is Woody's basic stair rail installation 101

1] Install newel post real well to floor and stringer check that top portion is same thickness as bottom portion
2] Determine angle cut of cap and handrail
3] Cut wall cap to length
4] Cut banister rail to length pending top of newel post size verses bottom portion size
5] Mark out center point of each baluster 4" max
6] Set up drill press to angle and bore pilot holes in center of cap on marks
7] Clamp hand rail to cap and bore pilot holes through cap into underside
of handrail
8]Cut bottom end of balusters to same angle as wall cap and handrail
9] Determine length of baluster by positioning handrail and adding 1/2"
10] Back to drill press change bit to baluster dia and drill at pilot holes in
handrail 1/2" deep
11] Test fit a few balusters and check intersection point at newel post
12] Stain or paint your parts
13] Assemble balusters to cap with screws using spacer jig to centralize
14] A drop of glue in each handrail hole and assemble the rail with a rubber
hammer
15] Offer the assembly into position and anchor to wall and newel post with screws fastened through a hole with a counterbore for a raised wood plug

If I've missed something out guys.....just chip in

Mike
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:03 PM   #4
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Basement Stair Rail and Baluster Question


Guys, great suggestions. Before I read your guys posts, I came up with something kind of along the lines of what you outlined. Tell me what you think. I really want to keep the lines clean, so I don't want to do the shoe molding option.

This is a little variation to your suggestion Mike. What if I take the cap, bore a hole for an oak dowel at each baluster. Basically your same steps 1-12, but instead on assembling it off the knee wall (which allows me to screw in the baluster) and with screws, I would dowel each baluster in position. Granted it won't be as solid as with screws, but was thinking that was an option to install it as I go with the cap at least temporarily screwed to the wall while assembling. THen I could fully secure the cap, putty and paint. 6 one, half dozen of the other?

My other question was on the newel post. When you say half lap the newel post, do you mean to cut the trim around the newel post, or to cut a section of the newel out do that it is kindof "in-set" into the wall.

Thanks for the help guys, this has been extremely helpful advice and has the gears in my head turning.

Here's my actual wall.
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:18 AM   #5
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Basement Stair Rail and Baluster Question


You could dowel the balusters to the cap but remember that you have an angle cut here. Boring a hole in the end of a baluster is a tricky business even without a beveled shoulder. If you try and "Install as you go" you'll find them popping out all over the place. If you do want to install the handrail first then you will have to toenail the balusters in place at the bottom.

Mike
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:30 AM   #6
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Basement Stair Rail and Baluster Question


Ok, thanks Mike. So you are saying to just have a small pilot hole to screw the baluster into and then screw up into that from the cap. Do I need to counter sink the bottom surface of the cap for the screw head since it won't be going in perpendicular to the cap surface, or just cinch it up so it sinks in when tightening?
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agreif View Post
Ok, thanks Mike. So you are saying to just have a small pilot hole to screw the baluster into and then screw up into that from the cap. Do I need to counter sink the bottom surface of the cap for the screw head since it won't be going in perpendicular to the cap surface, or just cinch it up so it sinks in when tightening?
It depends on the wood being used. If it's a hardwood then you will need to make sure that the screws are flush, so countersinking would be necessary.
A soft wood will probably be ok not to countersink. Use at least a 2" screw
As this is your first time, just trial fit everything before you commit to gluing.
Make sure when you install the newel post that it is anchored really well to the stringer, knee wall and floor and doesn't wobble.

Mike
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Old 07-11-2012, 10:46 AM   #8
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Basement Stair Rail and Baluster Question


Any suggestions on that newel post anchoring. My thought was liquid nails on the vertical face and floor face and lag bolts into the kneewall. Would I keep the bottom of the newel post whole or do I scallop some of it out to nest into the wall a little bit?
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agreif View Post
Any suggestions on that newel post anchoring. My thought was liquid nails on the vertical face and floor face and lag bolts into the kneewall. Would I keep the bottom of the newel post whole or do I scallop some of it out to nest into the wall a little bit?
For strength, it is best to "Half lap " the newel over the stringer it if you can, but this depends on where the other end of the handrail is to finish up at the wall. The hand rail has to remain parallel to the stringer.

Mike
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:58 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by woody4249 View Post
For strength, it is best to "Half lap " the newel over the stringer it if you can, but this depends on where the other end of the handrail is to finish up at the wall. The hand rail has to remain parallel to the stringer.

Mike
Relative to my picture you see above, how would I half lap. Rookie question here, is half lapping cutting a section of the newel out to nest into the wall? I don't think a newel is wide enough to hit the stringer too, is it? Or d I cut a section out of the newel so it overlaps the wall and slides between the stringer and wall? I'm new to half laps, obviously.
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Old 07-11-2012, 01:38 PM   #11
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It's a little difficult to see from this angle. If I had a shot from the other side it would help as I need to see where the stringer meets the wall on the left hand side from the basement.
"Lapping" is where you cut out a portion of one or both components to form a joint. In this case you can strengthen the joint between the stringer and the newel post by cutting out 1/8" of the newel post and forming an angled shoulder.
It would increase the strength enormously if you were also able to cut out a portion of the stringer. Even if the depth of both "Lapps" were 1/8" deep there would be a significant difference in the strength when glued and screwed together.
Check the width of the handrail and the width of the top portion of the newel post and see how much the handrail would be inset from the newel. If you have 1/4" or more you should still be able to half lap both the newel and the stringer and still end up with the handrail meeting with the wall above without over hanging the corner of the wall.
Take a look at the diagram below. I showed the handrail location for reference, but of course it's on the other face
Sure hope this helps...........it's tougher to explain in writing than actually doing.
Mike
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Basement Stair Rail and Baluster Question-newel-post-stringer-joint.jpg  
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Old 07-11-2012, 04:41 PM   #12
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Basement Stair Rail and Baluster Question


I usually set my cap first. I run the cap down plumb to the floor. When you run the cap down you shim it from behind so that it is perfectly plumb. This way you won't need to shim the post or make any notches in the cap to wrap the post. Make sure the post is centered on the upper wall...not the knee wall. By the looks of it it will not be centered on the knee wall unless you put a trim piece on the drywall side the same thickness of your stringer.

I think you have the halflap backwards woody. It would be half the thickness of you post, so 1-1/2" if you have a 3" post. Then cut to pitch like the baluster cuts. The tricky part is getting your correct height. The top of rail should be at 34" measured plumb up from the leading edge of the nosing. Your post will be in front of the nosing so you will need to find out the distance ,on pitch, the rail will travel to meet the correct spot on the post. A simple pitch block can give you all this information.
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Old 07-11-2012, 04:54 PM   #13
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Basement Stair Rail and Baluster Question-image-3773402326.jpg

This s a good side view of the 1/2lap you should do.
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Old 07-11-2012, 04:58 PM   #14
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Basement Stair Rail and Baluster Question


Oh, and one more thing, if you want to know a super easy way to lay out that post height and notch let me know
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Old 07-17-2012, 05:57 PM   #15
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The hand rail should be set at 34" high above the front of the tread and should finish towards the top of the square portion of the newel.
To be sure, check the code in your area.
Laying the newel post out will require exposing the stair stringer at the knee wall bottom end sufficiently for you to work on. After determining the post height based on the handrail at 34' above tread,you will need to plumb the post and hold it in position while you mark for the angled newel lap shoulder and at the same time the vertical shoulder on the stringer.
Mike

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