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Old 10-22-2007, 09:13 PM   #1
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Wooden Top For Wroght Iron Railings


The handrails on my 80 year old house were removed many years ago. I am rebuilding the wrought iron components, but would like to add wood over the iron rails (rather than the previous wrought iron cap). However, the wrought iron has a bend that doesn’t seem to match standard handrail fittings.

I have attached a photograph of the right hand rail (the left is a mirror except shorter). You'll note that the current wrought iron rail drops and twists at the end.

How do I go about matching the twists of the current iron railing?

Any advice on how to proceed would be appreciated.
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Wooden Top For Wroght Iron Railings-handrail-project-007.jpg  

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Old 10-31-2007, 05:40 AM   #2
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Wooden Top For Wroght Iron Railings


You have taken yourself down a long miserable road.....Looks like the area where you put the railing up isn't that important is it? Contact a milling compant that deals with railings....it is going to cost you a small fortune.. You should have thought of this before you traveled down this road I think.

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Old 10-31-2007, 08:50 AM   #3
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Wooden Top For Wroght Iron Railings


re: Looks like the area where you put the railing up isn't that important is it?

I pre-assembled the railing in my basement work room, to make sure I had all the parts. While I had to make some minor repairs to the wrought iron pieces, and get a bunch of new fasteners, everything is there for both railings. Once I'm ready to go, I'll assemble both railings on my formal staircase.

So why should this be such a miserable road. I'm looking for two short transition pieces. While I know that they are likely to be expensive, I believe it will be worth it because of the enhanced appearance.

Can you recommend a milling company that deals with railings?
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Old 10-31-2007, 01:23 PM   #4
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Wooden Top For Wroght Iron Railings


Hey...I would just look up a company under millwork locally...hopefully it won't be as miserable as I would expect...good luck
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:10 PM   #5
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Wooden Top For Wroght Iron Railings


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Can you recommend a milling company that deals with railings?
Any custom millwork company in your area can fabricate that railing for you. However, it IS going to be expensive.

They may have to make the whole thing because their tooling may not match the stock railings from your lumberyard.
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Old 11-01-2007, 07:04 AM   #6
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Wooden Top For Wroght Iron Railings


If you're up to it...since you have a solid metal railing, there's no reason you couldn't use it as your template, rip and glue up thin strips clamped to the railing. When they're dry, they'd fit like a glove. DAGS for bent wood lamination, and you'll get many results, here's just a sample. You will have to do some hand shaping but it wouldn't be that difficult.
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Old 11-01-2007, 10:48 AM   #7
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Wooden Top For Wroght Iron Railings


While I agree that doing the lamination will be easy, I think it will be difficult without some carving skills and tools to get a very even shape. And if you want the curve to go two ways the way the railing does (around the corner and then down) you'll have trouble doing that with a lamination. You'll need to make it very wide at the end, and then saw that curve (on the left) after the glue-up. Also, the plys of the lamination will be visible when you shape through the various layers after the glue-up, and on the left curve, they'll really look bad, IMO. The proper way to do this is to use solid wood, and do the straight section as one piece, then the curves at the bottom as another piece. You'll need a big bandsaw (with about 12" cutting height) to saw out the curve in all 3 dimensions. And then either a very skilled man on a shaper, or an experienced carver.

I'd not try this at home, unless you've done a lot of woodworking, and are looking for a challenge.

Nate
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Old 11-01-2007, 10:55 AM   #8
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Wooden Top For Wroght Iron Railings


If the plys alternated, and were seams tight...it would look fine. I guess it depends on what type of cap the OP was looking for. If it were just a cap, say 1/2" or so thick, rounded on the edges, my way would work. If the OP wanted a full blown hand railing, no...it's not the way.

ThomF, do you have any other details of what your looking for that may help us narrow this a bit for you?
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:01 AM   #9
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Wooden Top For Wroght Iron Railings


If the plys were alternated, and the railing stained, you'd have even more contrast between the layers. The end grain and edge grain plys would absorb the stain very differently.

You're right though - I was thinking of a proper hand-rail shape, not a 3/4" tall bullnose edge on both sides. That would certainly be more reasonable. I'm still not sure it would be much easier than solid stock, and it wouldn't look as good as solid. But it wouldn't be the impossible task of making a real handrail from bent lamination in that shape.
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:11 AM   #10
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Wooden Top For Wroght Iron Railings


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If the plys were alternated, and the railing stained, you'd have even more contrast between the layers. The end grain and edge grain plys would absorb the stain very differently.

A grain filler will greatly diminish the stain color difference. In addition, the only place end grain may be visible would be on the first corner, and if the plys were wide enough and altered, they would be nearly invisible on step side. I would use 2" wide strips and rather than just let them run long, I would miter them as long as they overlapped at the joint it would be plenty stong. Again...if it's a full blown hand rail cross section...no way would I attempt it.

Hopefully ThomF will reply shortly.
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:41 AM   #11
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ThomF, do you have any other details of what your looking for that may help us narrow this a bit for you?
I was planning on picking up most of the top rail parts from a standard handrail supply catalogue. Perhaps something like: http://www.stairsupplies.com/eng/products/fittings
Essentially, I had planned on purchasing the straight elements and end pieces. For the end pieces I was thinking of using something like their left and right turnouts.

But this would leave me with the need to create a transition piece between the straight pieces and the end pieces on both ends. Each transition piece would probably only need to be about 6-8 inches in length, but it would seem to be difficult to create with laminates and match the standard pieces.

I sent an email note to the site, asking for advice, but they never responded.

Thom

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