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Old 03-30-2008, 02:12 AM   #1
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Grandma wants a handrail.


So, while working on the never-ending list of home improvements at grandma's house today, she asked me if I could install a handrail down to her basement. The stairs down to the basement make 2 right turns, to make a squared-off U shape. My first thought was to have a single "continuous" handrail, and just miter the corners... but then I realized it would be a compound angle and I got intimidated by the math. My next thought was to do 3 separate sections and just leave it at that... but then I read a post that said code requires all handrails to have returns. So now I'm wondering, would it look better to have 3 sections, for a total of 6 returns, or a continuous rail with returns just at the top and the bottom?

If I go with the continuous rail, how do I figure out the angles? Cutting them isn't a problem, I have a compound mitre saw.

And while we're on the subject, how far apart should the brackets be?

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Old 03-30-2008, 08:48 AM   #2
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Grandma wants a handrail.


Continuous rail, with returns on the two ends.

How many rail brackets depends on the length. Generally brackets are installed according to the railing span.

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Old 03-30-2008, 09:55 AM   #3
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Grandma wants a handrail.


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Continuous rail, with returns on the two ends.
How would a humble simpleton such as myself figure out exactly how to set the miter saw to cut these angles?

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How many rail brackets depends on the length. Generally brackets are installed according to the railing span.
Agreed. The 3 walls are 30", 67", and 41". I'm guessing 2 brackets on each of the shorter rails, and 3 or 4 on the 67"?

And as for connecting all these pieces together, am I safe to assume the dowel-and-glue method would suffice?
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Last edited by wfischer; 03-30-2008 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:00 AM   #4
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Grandma wants a handrail.


So last night I went and measured 36" up from the nose of the top step and the nose of the step at the first corner. Made marks, snapped a chalk line. Repeated for the other 2 lengths of stair. What I discovered at the corners did not make me happy at all, so I snapped some photos of it.

The magenta arrows link the chalk line to the step it was measured from.

So am I out of luck for a continuous handrail? Or did I just measure wrong?
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Old 03-31-2008, 12:48 PM   #5
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Grandma wants a handrail.


Wouldn't it be better to put the handrail on the outside of the turn so grandma doesn't have to step on the little wedge of the step at the turn? I'm sure she'd be steadier stepping onto a >10" wide step rather than a 3" wide step. If you did it that way I think your heights would match better.
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Old 03-31-2008, 02:45 PM   #6
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Grandma wants a handrail.


A.) When you are going around those corners, you "may" have to adjust the railings. Note the direct drop-down (goose-neck-connections) of the railings at certain transition locations in the pics posted below (from this site: http://www.stairworld.com/)

B.) When attaching railings together, in the inndustry, we use rail bolts. You could probably get by with dowels and glue, in your situation.

The number of brackets that you mentioned, appear sufficient. Tho, 3 brackets should suffice for the 67" length.

Examples of A: Notice railing drop downs (goose-neck) at corners

http://www.stairworld.com/180.html
http://www.stairworld.com/curveB.html
http://www.stairworld.com/holidaywood.html
http://www.stairworld.com/curveC.html

Examples of pre-formed goose-neck railing sections:
http://www.stairsupplies.com/eng/products/fittings

Example of B: Rail Bolts
http://www.stairsupplies.com/eng/pro...9600_rail_bolt

Over-all, I don't believe that you need to do such detailed craftsmanship in that stairwell. You may opt to consider just doing multiple railing segments with returns.

Good Luck.
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Old 03-31-2008, 04:22 PM   #7
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Grandma wants a handrail.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jogr View Post
Wouldn't it be better to put the handrail on the outside of the turn so grandma doesn't have to step on the little wedge of the step at the turn? I'm sure she'd be steadier stepping onto a >10" wide step rather than a 3" wide step. If you did it that way I think your heights would match better.
I came to the same conclusion about the heights matching, but unfortunately putting the handrails on the outside of the turn isn't an option. There's a cubbyhole in the wall next to the top wedge-shaped step (not shown in the photos) that would be blocked by the rail.
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Old 03-31-2008, 04:28 PM   #8
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Grandma wants a handrail.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlanticWBConst. View Post
B.) When attaching railings together, in the inndustry, we use rail bolts. You could probably get by with dowels and glue, in your situation.
Another idea I thought of was to maybe put in some wood screws, countersink them, and cover the hole with putty.

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Over-all, I don't believe that you need to do such detailed craftsmanship in that stairwell. You may opt to consider just doing multiple railing segments with returns.
Yeah, I wanted it to look fancy... but the more I look into it, the more problems pop up, and I think doing 3 segments is probably just the easiest way to go.

As always, thanks for the wealth of information. This site wouldn't be the same without people like you. I'm sure I speak for a lot of people when I say that I appreciate the time you take out of your day to help us out here.
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Old 04-05-2008, 01:10 PM   #9
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Grandma wants a handrail.


I think th min space from the wall to the side of the rail is 1 1/2". Careful cutting!

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