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Old 01-27-2008, 05:56 PM   #1
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Cedar Twig Railing


My wife and I have built a small cabin the woods and just about have it finished. In the design and build we created a loft space for our two grandchildren to sleep in when they come to visit. They're 2 and 5, so it it'll be a few years before they want to get up there.

We have an abundance of cedar on our property and thought about using this in the loft for log/twig railing .

Because the wood will be of different sizes and of irregular shape, could someone provide a suggestion on best way to join the railings and uprights? How do you think the example below was accomplished?


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Old 01-30-2008, 09:35 PM   #2
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Cedar Twig Railing


First, be aware that this type of construction does not meet building codes, and will be turned down if you require inspections. But even without any required inspections, this is a very dangerous railing for protecting your grand children because of the large opening that exist.

To build something like this is quite time consuming actually. One method requires that each hole be matched to the diameter of the individual piece both top and bottom, and also requires getting the angle of the hole pretty accurate. The second method is to use a tenon cutter that chucks into a drill to cut a round tenon on the end of each piece. This would give you pretty consistent diameters for the holes, but the angles would still pretty much be an "eyeball" situation. These tools are like a large pencil sharpener powered by your drill and are used for building rustic style green wood furniture, and I believe they are available from LEE Valley Tools, for one source. I have seen these railings assembled by just toe nailing together, but beside being ugly, it is a very weak method of joining.
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Old 01-31-2008, 10:14 AM   #3
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Cedar Twig Railing


I was afraid of that. I guess we'll opt for a more traditional railing.
Thanks for your response.
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Old 10-14-2008, 07:57 PM   #4
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Cedar Twig Railing


I do twig rails for my job and they are not difficult nor weak. the previous poster unfortunately must have never tried it or doesnt have the patience. It is and art and can be made to fit the code of wherever you live. As for the safety issue, I just made some for a couple with 3 small children that love it. They prefer it over conventional rail and say it is safer with my rails because of my spacing. I can construct up to 50 feet of it within a 2 week timespan. Please email em for any more information.
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Old 10-14-2008, 09:18 PM   #5
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Cedar Twig Railing


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Originally Posted by Aburiedheart View Post
I do twig rails for my job and they are not difficult nor weak. the previous poster unfortunately must have never tried it or doesnt have the patience. It is and art and can be made to fit the code of wherever you live. As for the safety issue, I just made some for a couple with 3 small children that love it. They prefer it over conventional rail and say it is safer with my rails because of my spacing. I can construct up to 50 feet of it within a 2 week timespan. Please email em for any more information.
Troubleseeker was quoting the code which requires standard business practices. Since there are no tests on how these would fare in a real live situation and being that each branch is different he is correct in his statements.

Now that is not saying that these can't be strong. I have seen these and they CAN be very strong IF done right. The problem is that there is no consistency from one to another and it they are not done right then there is some serious danger. And the danger is even more so than if there were no railings at all since people would assume that they were secure when they might not be.
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Old 10-14-2008, 11:17 PM   #6
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Cedar Twig Railing


There's no part of the code that prohibits the use of sticks for railings like what's being proposed. There are two requirements in play here...

1) No gaps that exceed 4"
2) The rail has to be able to resist a 200 pound lateral load. So, you'd have to use reasonably sturdy sticks.

I've seen a number of these done, and the code shouldn't be an obstacle in using them. The tenon cutters work pretty well in the hands of a talented carpenter. They chuck in a drill.
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Old 10-14-2008, 11:17 PM   #7
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For the record, the rail in the picture is nowhere near code-compliant.
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Old 10-18-2008, 11:59 PM   #8
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Cedar Twig Railing


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2) The rail has to be able to resist a 200 pound lateral load. So, you'd have to use reasonably sturdy sticks.
Short of applying a 200lb lateral test load, how can you quantify its strength? Dimensional materials and species can be calculated from tables, cedar twigs - not so.

Also, 25' of railing per week is extremely labor intensive compared to most alternatives. It is an art and likely to be priced accordingly.
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Old 10-19-2008, 12:07 AM   #9
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Short of applying a 200lb lateral test load, how can you quantify its strength? Dimensional materials and species can be calculated from tables, cedar twigs - not so.
That's one of those things prescribed by the building code that is pretty tough to check in the field with any amount of precision. Most inspectors will only make an issue of it if a railing is loose and wiggly.
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