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Old 07-31-2011, 03:25 PM   #1
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Handrail installation


Hello everyone, this is my first post here. I feel really odd asking this question as I've been a carpenter for 7 years.

I've built tons of stairs and know what I'm doing but we've always had other companies come in and do expensive iron spindles and whatnot.

Well I'm doing an oak railing in my home and the stair section is done, that part was easy. My question is about the horizontal section I have at the landing. I bought oak railing and balusters from Lowes, I got the spindles with the dowel in them.

I'm using a lower rail section with fillet as well. Should I mount the lower rail section on my floor (hardwood) or have it raised about 3"? I like the idea of having it raised 3". With that, do I put the dowel up or down? I didn't use it on the stairs, since it was angled it was easy to wood glue and just use my finish gun for both top and bottom of spindle.

Should I completely attach the balusters to the bottom rail then fasten that in place, then install the top rail over them as a unit (this way seems best for dowel to be at top so I won't need to nail anything)? What holds the spindles from falling out of the top railing....just glue on dowel to baluster and dowel to top rail?

Normally I can build anything but I've never done this before so I want to do it in the best manner possible. BTW the stairs weren't assembled anything like this when I bought the house, there was just a straight run upstairs and a straight run downstairs.

I moved them to enlarge my kitchen/living room and elimanted a tiny 8x8 bedroom by making that corner of the house my stairwell. They hit a landing and turn going up and same as going into the basement.


Last edited by oh'mike; 08-02-2011 at 07:28 AM. Reason: Added spaces
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Old 07-31-2011, 03:31 PM   #2
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Handrail installation


The top rail isn't pluoghed (plowed) to receive fillets the same as the shoe rail?

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Old 08-01-2011, 09:48 AM   #3
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Handrail installation


It is, but if I don't fasten them in some manner they will be prone to wiggling. Plus as I mentioned I want the shoe rail about 3" off the floor because I like that look and if I don't fasten the balusters to the top rail what is to keep their weight from making the shoe rail sag? My only trouble here is the manner in which to fasten it all together. Plus because it's straight I can't mount the shoe rail and the top rail and then go and put in the balusters after the fact, that's why I'm assuming I should mount them all to the shoe rail just by finish nailing and gluing them from beneath before I install it.
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Old 08-01-2011, 05:37 PM   #4
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Handrail installation


Assuming the spindle tops and bottoms are square to fit the plow, can you cut opposing five degree (or less) slants on each end of the spindles that will allow you to tilt the spindles into the (already installed) top and bottom rails? The fillets will hide the slants.
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Old 08-01-2011, 08:28 PM   #5
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Handrail installation


Both the top rail and the bottom rail should have at least a 1/4" plow in them. Put your rails up in place 1st. Permanently. If you choose to keep that 3" space between the floor and bottom rail, put a small support block under the rail. Under 4' you will not need it. You do not need the dowels in the balusters. you should have a 1/2" filler strip to go between the balusters. start with your filler blocks ( top and bottom) and nail them in. Then just cut your balusters. You can cut the balusters a little short so that they go in easy. as long as they dont fall out of the plow.Toe nail at top and bottom so that the brads are covered by the filler piece.
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Old 08-01-2011, 09:55 PM   #6
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Handrail installation


Bud, I considered that but was worried that if it didn't work I'd be screwed with my rails already in place. It's good to have confirmation from someone that it will indeed work out just fine by cutting a small mitre on opposing corners, thank you Millertyme, yes the plows are indeed a 1/4" and my filler strip is a heavy 5/16". I'm glad you suggest discarding the dowels, I didn't want to mess with them. My length is roughly 6', I don't want a permanent block under them, now that I'm reassured I can mount both rails before the balusters I would assume the toe nail would be sufficient to alleviate any sag with 6' The block just for temporary to maintain the bottom rail staying level as I install balusters. Thoughts? Thank you both for the advice and input, it helps take the "I hope this fits" syndrome out of something I wasn't sure about BTW what are your opinions on the shoe being raised 3" versus mounted to the floor? I have brand new oak flooring with a nice nosing, that's why I'm leaning towards raised.
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Old 08-02-2011, 12:03 AM   #7
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Handrail installation


If the shoe isn't on the floor there is a very good chance that some little one will try to use it as a step and pull it loose along with the balusters.

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