Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.
Membership gives you full access to our hundreds of how-to articles, woodworking plans, converters, calculators and tables. Our Stair Calculator is one of the most popular on the internet. We have projects you can build for (and with) your kids, furniture for your wife, and sheds and gazebos. If you run into a problem or need advice your Membership includes unlimited email questions to me through our Ask Dave quick response button.
I am installing a handrail on my landing and down the stairs. Your instructions given on how to do this includes everything I need except how to attach the handrail to the newel posts. Could you explain how to do that?
This is what I wrote in the article to fasten the top handrail to the newel post: Put the whole assembly into position, pre-drill for wood screws from the top rail into the newel on the angle, use glue on all joints. There are small headed, hard screws available for this purpose at the finishing store.
Notice the 2 holes filled with putty on the underside of the top rail in the above picture. This is where the screws are used to attach the 2 pieces. Use the screws as you would a toe-nail - on the angle from the rail into the newel. You should have enough room between the spindle and the newel post. These screws are 3" long with a very small head and are very hard for screwing into oak or other hardwoods. A standard 3" x #10 flat head wood screw would work, but the head is larger and you would have to pre-drill into the newel. Make sure the end of the rail is completely covered with Carpenter's Yellow glue, then wipe the excess off with a damp rag after tightening the screws.
When going down the stairs, the top rail is installed first, before the spindles. The lower newel and rail are attached as described above. The upper newel and top rail are attached from the face of the top rail into the newel. Unfortunately, this leaves a hole that needs to be plugged rather than puttied, since it is in full view. Usually, a 3/8" hardwood plug is used to fill a 3/8" hole in the rail, as shown in this picture below.
I would recommend buying a 3/8" plug cutter, an inexpensive tool. This way you can make your own plugs out of scraps of the particular hardwood you are using for instances such as this.
Dave(Ask Dave) (About Dave)
As an introduction get free access to this article
and two others of your choice, just by entering
your email address below.
Receive our FREE Monthly newsletter which contains a
free set of woodworking plans each and every month.