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Old 11-13-2010, 08:42 AM   #1
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Installing new stair baluster


I'm thinking about installing a new stair baluster. I currently have the old iron baluster and would like a new look. I've never done this before and looking for some good advice. Can anyone recommend a good book on balusters? My unit is a kneewall stairway if this helps. Here is a photo of what I have to work with, sorry its a bit dark.

Installing new stair baluster-stairs.jpg

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Old 11-13-2010, 08:56 AM   #2
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Installing new stair baluster


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Originally Posted by krb613 View Post
I'm thinking about installing a new stair baluster. I currently have the old iron baluster and would like a new look. I've never done this before and looking for some good advice. Can anyone recommend a good book on balusters? My unit is a kneewall stairway if this helps. Here is a photo of what I have to work with, sorry its a bit dark.

Attachment 26724
If that's your crew, you should have no problems.......

Wood stair railings start with a Newel Post to which the handrail is attached.
The hardest part of these types of projects is getting the Newel Post solid.
It needs to go through the knee wall and into the floor framing to get a good "purchase"

I tell you this only so you don't think you're going to just 'stick' something on top of that knee wall.


Last edited by tcleve4911; 11-13-2010 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 11-13-2010, 09:04 AM   #3
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Installing new stair baluster


A few questions

What style are you looking at?
What tools do you have available?
What is you experience level?

What you are proposing to do may not be that involved, but doing work on an angle is more involved than on the level.
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Old 11-13-2010, 09:31 AM   #4
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Installing new stair baluster


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Originally Posted by Keith Mathewson View Post
A few questions

What style are you looking at?
What tools do you have available?
What is you experience level?

What you are proposing to do may not be that involved, but doing work on an angle is more involved than on the level.
Style: Iron balusters with wooden newel posts adn wooden hand rail.
Tools: I have a few tools but willing to purchase or rent as needed.
Experience: Zero experience in this.

I'd like to replace the knewall also.

The angles are my biggest fear. I've done plent of shoe molding and door molding but I know this is a completely different animal!!!


This is similar to the look I want:

Installing new stair baluster-oak_railing_with_iron_balusters_fs.jpg
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Old 11-13-2010, 09:59 AM   #5
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Installing new stair baluster


I was really hoping you weren't going to show an over the post rail. My best advice is to hire it out.

If you are set on doing this yourself then you will want to do a full scale drawing of the starting newel, tread & riser and rail. With a post to post balustrade you have some wiggle room as to where the rail hits the newel. If you are off by 1/8" it is not a problem, on an over the post system you will need a new newel. Make some rail jacks to hold the handrail at the correct elevation for determining the cuts on your fittings. Learn to use a pitch board.

Second consideration is that you will need to cut fittings which means you should use a easing jig for your chopsaw- do you have or know someone who has a bandsaw?

Iron balusters- you will need a port-a-band to cut them. The rake shoes come at a 37 angle. You will need a disc sander to adjust them to whatever angle your stair is.

The list goes on...
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:57 PM   #6
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Installing new stair baluster


Accomplishing this depends on your overall carpentry skills and ability to tackle new things. Do you your homework. Stairs and ballustrade is considered advanced carpentry. Plus there is a safety factor. Do it wrong and someone can get hurt or killed. Every cut must be perfect and every joint must be a perfect fit. If not, your railing system will look bad. There are some good resources on the web. One of the best how to guides is from a stair component builder www.ljsmith.com. Download it and read it. As far as wood choices go I would use oak. Mailny because the components are readily available at home centers, inexpensive, and other trim pieces are easily had. If you make a mistake on oak it will not cost a lot. Make a mistake with special order walnut parts and you will not be happy not to mention the reorder delays. HD sells most stuff to build a basic railing system so it is worth a visit just to see everything. Better variety is available at pro supply specialists. Hardest part is getting the curved parts to fit well. I did a railing system with no experience and it came out nice. It was definetly harder than I thought and took much longer. I made cutting fixtures for my curved parts. The joints came out perfect. Everytime I walk past it I run my hands over it ang say to myself....."this project came out perfect". It does feel good.

If you can afford it, I would recommend paying someone unless you really want to do it. A good stair pro will be done in 1-2 days. It took me 2 weeks at night. The wife was crazy by the end. I had it quoted and I saved probably 600$ so it was financially worth it.I would probably job it out if I had to do it again.
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:06 PM   #7
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Installing new stair baluster


Also...don't be fooled by the stair building books. Some do a very thorough job explaining the basics. They helped me. The wood cutters in them make it look like all you need is a pencil, string, and hand saw. Maybe they can do it with hand tools, but us weekenders can't....trust me. As kieth says, you will want to make easing cut fixtures or avoid curved fittings.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:16 PM   #8
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Installing new stair baluster


Nice to hear that things went well. Did you do something similar to what the OP wants or was it a post to post with wood balusters?
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:31 AM   #9
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Installing new stair baluster


It was a post to post with wall rail and a a few easing (curved) fitting. The difficult part for me was covering a steel post and fitting it to it. I learned alott. I am sure over the post adds some precision challenges. Here are a few pics. I also had apost on the woodworking site. Hopefully I don't hijack this post. http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f17/b...eel-post-9021/
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Installing new stair baluster-p1010252.jpg   Installing new stair baluster-p1010257.jpg   Installing new stair baluster-p1010261.jpg  
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:33 AM   #10
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Installing new stair baluster


what is a hand rail jack? that sound sliek it would have been usefull.
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Old 11-16-2010, 07:11 PM   #11
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Installing new stair baluster


Nice job, looks good.

Using fitting for a post to post or wall mount is a big difference than an over the post. Add to that iron balusters and well probably not for the average DIY person.

A rail jack it a device to hold railing at the height at which it is to be installed. They can be either may of wood or metal
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:46 PM   #12
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Installing new stair baluster


That one looks slightly more advanced than mine.You must have a few hammers I don't.
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:54 PM   #13
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Installing new stair baluster


I am glad my wife told me no on the iron ballusters. I may have been sorry. At the time I assumed ironballusters would be easier since they were "already" forged at an angle. When you adjust the angle do you just eyeball it with an angle grinder or do you have some type of grinding jig to control the angle.
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Old 11-17-2010, 08:31 AM   #14
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Installing new stair baluster


Beautiful work Beerdog and Keith I've used a belt sander to grind down the rake shoes before.. Most of the time you dont have to take that much off.
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Old 11-17-2010, 07:46 PM   #15
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Installing new stair baluster


For adjusting rake shoes I have a 20" disc sander and a jig. Also use a bucket of water to keep them from getting too hot.

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