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Gluing Hand Rail at 120 Degree Angle?

813 Views 24 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  colin123
I'm replacing a handrail with returns at 120 degree angles. The originals show no nails and I'm not good with a hammer so would like to simply glue. The problem is that I'm not seeing a way to clamp the glue joint while it cures. The only flat surface on the handrail is the bottom. The only idea I have is to apply glue, push together and then clamp both to a third piece of flat wood. This could hold the two parts together but would not really provide a clamping force. Is there a better way? I would not mind building some kind of simple clamping fixture but am not sure what to do.

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· Remodel and New Build GC
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Maybe some better ideas.... but gosh...I'd just countersink a finishing screw accross the joint and glue it up...and fill the very small finshing screw hole.... can't believe it would be noticable and it would make the glued joint stronger.
 

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Usually shoot a couple trim nails with a gun.
Or use faster drying glue and hold it .
Titebond drys pretty quick
Doing trim molding around bullnose walls, I often use 90 SECOND set epoxy (and a pin nail when I have my gun set-up) .... but I would not trust that on a hand rail.

Sometimes hard to find 90 second epoxy.... I usually find it at Harbor Freight.
 

· A "Handy Husband"
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Secure with trim screws and glue, toe screwed from the bottom of the rail. Pre drill for the screws.
 

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If interested in glue only , they can be pulled together by gluing or screwing 2 glue blocks on each side then removing the blocks . 1 screw in each block will work then fill those holes that will be on the sides . As mentioned that end grain will leave much desired in strength but i've been surprised there too .
 

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Wooden dowel in the middle of the joint, then glue & clamp.

Could also use some fine trim screws. Pre-drill. Glue and then secure with a screw.

You also install a mending plate on the bottom face, which likely is flat.

I once had an > 100 yr handrail where somebody cut a 90 corner off of the handrail, to allow the corner to be rounded with furniture, box springs, etc. which mean the railing was no longer attached at the top. Ended up strategically drilling two small holes and reinstalling it using finish Torx screws, to secure that corner back on while at the same time making it removable. It was really not noticeable - or certainly did not stand out like a sore thumb - as people are not looking at the handrail, but rather where they're stepping. But your house layout might be different.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
As I read it, the CA building code requires returns. The return is not structural, according to the code, it is there to prevent clothing or carried items to get behind the hand rail.

I have a low skill set and am afraid the parts will slide if I try to use a nail gun or nail by hand. I can see how a pre-drilled screw hole would hold it in alignment as it is tightened plus add strength. Are you suggesting some thing like this? #12 x 2 1/2. The return is not structural, according to the code, it is there to preven clothing or carried items to get behind the hand rail.

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I have never seen one of those. How does that screw tighten? Is the thread at the top "quicker" than the thread at the bottom? Less threads per inch maybe? Would you uses something like a #8 for a hand rail?
 

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I have never seen one of those. How does that screw tighten? Is the thread at the top "quicker" than the thread at the bottom? Less threads per inch maybe? Would you uses something like a #8 for a hand rail?
The threads at the bottom are right hand threads and at the top are left hand threads .When the upper threads reach that piece being pulled , the upper L. H. threads tend to pull the 2 pieces together .
 

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I did a similar handrail and I drilled a 3/8" or half inch hole on the inside face of both pieces and put a wood dowel in it and glued it with PL Premium. The holes were a little oversize because there is no way I would get the hole perfectly square and perfect position. PL Premium expands so will take up any gap. I think I just mounted both ends to the wall to hold it in position. But I was painting mine. If you are staining, you need more perfect work.

If you want to build a jig for clamping, you just want to remember you want the line of force of your clamp exactly square to the surface you are clamping, and along the center of the glued surfaces. For the short piece, it would be easy enough to make a profile piece to clamp against. For the longer rail, you have to make a split clamp piece and c-clamp it to the long rail. You might want to check out the Wood Whisperer on Youtube -- he had a video on clamping on odd angles just the other day.
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I wouldn't really use that fat of a screw. In a pinch, I'd use a 3" or so exterior Phillips or Torx with coarse thread.

For alignment and drilling purposes, you could put a piece of scrap plywood or planking down. Fasten some scrap 2x4 in the right place. Could hold the two pieces together with a mending place.
 

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As long as that return isn't structural your first idea would work just fine.
A few well placed clamps also won't hurt.
Just plan it out before you glue it to see what gives you the best and tightest clamping arrangement.
Just use a good quality wood glue so you won't have to worry about it again.
Gorilla wood glue has a quick setup time and is very strong.

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You could drill and countersink the screw from the end that faces the wall. I would actually drill my pilot hole from the joint towards the wall so the exit hole into the main rail is located exactly where I want and then countersink the pilot hole from the wall towards the joint to give my screw the proper length of grab on the main rail while the use dries. Once the rail is installed there would not be a visible fastener.
 

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Lets take a few steps backwards and go with the OP's plan of gluing . If Casein glue is used ( white or yellow ) lets use the Sizing technique and use tape to pull the joint together and hold until dried . If it does fall off , which it won't , then we'll screw it or-or something else .

COPIED:
What is the purpose of using glue sizing on end grain?
Glue size is also applied to the porous edges of particle and fiber boards to prevent over-absorption of glues and finishes. This helps fill the grain and give the wood more even coloration and surface quality.Feb 13, 2001


 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
This seemed so simple but not. When I tried simple clamping, things would not line up perfectly. It appears that the bottom flat surface is at a slightly different angle on the small pieces than it is on my 12 foot piece. Those short pieces did not come from the same 12 foot handrail. They may even have come from a different manufacturer or maybe just manufacturing tolerances on a different day. This may be what is called a learning experience. Would you expect the fancy wood pattern on the side and flat bottom to be perfectly repeatable from the same manufacturer? I could try to get another piece. I can push the pieces together free hand and they look good enough.

Update
Looking again, it is my cut on one end. I'm new to a miter saw so cut a number of the short pieces for practice. All of these short pieces were from the same piece of rail and the miter cuts line up very nicely. The short pieces line up with one end of the 12' piece but not the other. One of my cuts is off maybe 5 degrees. The rail is longer at the top than the bottom. What could cause this? It was clamped in the saw and I only took a very small cut to get an angle. With such a long rail could I have had the long end inadequately supported? Or, can the saw blade bend if it is just slicing some of the end. The odd thing is that it cut deeper as it went down.

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