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Handrail to Newel

Question

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?

Answer

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)

Your source for building tips, woodworking & furniture plans, house plans and building advice directly from Dave...

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.

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