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Old 09-27-2009, 12:24 PM   #1
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


I've got a very narrow stairway leading to my basement, with concrete walls on each side. (It's a 1936 home.) There is no way to get a rail long enough for the stairwell into the space.

I assume I need to cut the rail in two and then reassemble it, but what's the best way to do that?

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Old 09-27-2009, 01:20 PM   #2
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


This is a very innovative crowd. If they could see several egress views, a way might be devised. But it will take photos and measurements.

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Old 09-27-2009, 01:40 PM   #3
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


CTS, Welcome to the Forum
Before I cut the rail I would first get a 6" Mending Plate from the local hardware
  • Turn the rail bottom side up and mark where you want to make the cut
  • Temporarily install the plate to bridge that mark. use all 4 screws
  • Remove the screws and the plate
  • Cut the rail
  • Install the plate on one section of the cut rail with two screws.

Move the rail sections into the stairwell and reassemble the two sections with glue and the remaining two screws.

Note The cut does not have to be perfectly square. You can use any kind of saw.

Let us know how it turns out.
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Old 09-27-2009, 01:46 PM   #4
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


Won't cutting the rail remove some material so the 4 screw holes will not allow the railing to match up perfectly?
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Old 09-27-2009, 02:30 PM   #5
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
Won't cutting the rail remove some material so the 4 screw holes will not allow the railing to match up perfectly?
yes it will, with even more of a gap if the cut is not made with a hand saw. The biggest problem I see is realigning the cut rail sections in the stairway

To minimize the saw kerf problem CTS could use liquid nails or similar adhesive instead of the glue.

To get rid of the kerf question altogether CTS could:
pre-assemble only the two screws on one side of the cut line and outline the profile including screw locations with a sharp pencil, on the virgin side.

The reassembly in the stairway would be slightly more difficult, but the plate mounted with the first screws to one end of the rail and the outline marked before the cut was made should help.

CTS could also use four clamps and two 4' 1x2's to maintain the XY alignment between the two sections

A Vix bit would help in installing the last two screws.
http://www.garrettwade.com/product.a...cd2=1254079654

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Old 09-27-2009, 07:38 PM   #6
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


I think the mending plate idea is good, but I'd also add a glued dowel or two between the two sections of wood so you're getting a very good glue bond.

Do the mending plate thing, but make the cut and assemble the rail before it is in place. Then disassemble, get it in the stairwell, glue, and re-assemble.
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Old 09-27-2009, 08:23 PM   #7
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


Of course I could be wrong, but we might be getting the cart before the horse. Without seeing the scene of the crime to be committed, we don't know if just because there is no way directly down the stairs from above, there might not be access from inside the basement.

Maybe the railing can be brought in a basement window... or a coal chute... or some other opening. Or even from above, a 6" hole might be cleanly cut through a room's wall, and the railing slid right on down the stairwell. Both D/W and plaster are very easy to patch.

Just trying to guide our thinking out of the proverbial box, so to speak.
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Old 09-27-2009, 08:39 PM   #8
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


If you are using a standard wood handrail there are specifc techniques for joining 2 pieces of hand rai. You can get the handrail bolts at any storethat sells handrail. Or do a web search for handrail or handrail bolts.

You can learn more at LJSMITH.com. They are a major handrail company that has some good online manuals.

Last edited by beerdog; 09-27-2009 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 09-27-2009, 08:50 PM   #9
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


Thanks for the responses. I'll google handrail bolts, among other things.

What is a "glued dowel" in this context? (I thought I knew what a dowel was: a wooden rod. Obviously that's not what you have in mind.)

The stairwell is awfully inaccessible. It's the result of an addition to a 1936 house made some time in the '50s. (The stairwell drops down from a corner of the kitchen, which was the addition.) There are concrete blocks on each side. Punching through the kitchen wall would provide access, but not from an angle where I can see getting a whole rail in. And access through the ceiling is blocked by air conditioning ducts above. (But I hadn't thought of this, so appreciate the suggestion ...)
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Old 09-27-2009, 09:53 PM   #10
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


There are several types of glue dowels.

This one has grooves cut in it to let glue run down it.
Another has spirals cut into the shaft (like a screw), and the glue follows this path.

Still others are "Pre-glued", having the same sort of grooves... but most of these are activated by water.
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:03 PM   #11
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


Glued fluted dowels like the one shown above make an incredibly strong joint. Drill a hole, put wood glue in the hole, tap the dowel in. Very easy, yields a very strong glue joint, and would be a good addition to the mending plate idea.

Handrail bolts are a good option too.
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Old 09-28-2009, 07:59 AM   #12
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


Thanks gain for the sound advice; I'm amazed at how active this web site is, and how solid the contributions.
I've been at sea since our local hardware store closed; Home Depot has the supplies, but (at least where I am) zero expertise.
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:49 PM   #13
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


The normal approach for joining handral fittings and longer lengths is to use a handrail bold. Typically they are usually 5/16 or 3/8 diameter steel bolts. These 2 illustrations show the typical method used.

http://www.westfiremfg.com/Rail_Bolt.PDF

http://www.westfiremfg.com/railbolt_usage.gif
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Old 09-28-2009, 08:36 PM   #14
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handrail won't fit in stairwell


Where you join these together, install a handrail bracket in the area to stabilize the joint.
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