Monday, May 18, 2015

The Stair Railing

Post by Mike 

Nate and Darryn finished the installation of the railing this past week. It was incredibly exciting to watch the vision and historic Federal design materialize. Here are a few images of the details from the final installation.

Because the design de-emphasizes reliance on bulky newel posts at each corner, it was necessary to supplement the wood components with a little steel to aid stability. At five key locations, steel balusters were installed to stiffen the railing system. Their dimensions match the dimensions of the wood balusters exactly, and once painted will blend right in.

One of those key locations was next to the upper newel and gooseneck where the railing turns 180 degrees to run along the landing.

Here Nate is fine-tuning the location for another of the steel balusters, near the lower joint in the hand rail.

Before the railing was actually joined, the system was dry fit to check the alignment and interaction with the steel balusters.

Here is a glimpse at the sweep of the gooseneck leading down the stairs, just before the railing was joined.

After the alignment checked out, it was time to piece it together one last time, and this time for good. Nate and Darryn used elaborate arrangements of these antique clamps to secure the joints.

Here is a glimpse of the clamping of the upper joint, just below the gooseneck.

Once the joints were set to cure, it was time to install the rest of the balusters. Here Nate and Mike are marching up the stairs with the balusters, cutting each one to fit perfectly.

Here Darryn mortises the base of the volute for the balusters that wrap around the newel.

With the majority of the balusters in, it was time to remove the clamps and finish the railing.

After the joints were secure and clamps removed, the joints were trimmed to blend uniformly. Here Darryn concentrates on fine trimming the upper joint.

They have an incredible variety of fine hand tools for this delicate work.

Once the balusters were installed, the end nosings were added to the treads and the detail on side of the stairs was complete.

Next up was the railing on the upper landing. Nate is chiseling out the termination for the railing while Darryn readies the location for another of the steel balusters.

As with the railing down the stairs, the upper railing was dry fit for the alignment.

Next, the upper railing was joined in place, clamped to steady the installation while the glue cured.

As the glue cured on the railing joints, it was time to install balusters on the landing.

Here Nate installs the last few balusters prior to finishing the joints in the rail.

The system as a whole is nearing completion.

This perspective up the stairs shows nicely how the railing doubles back on the landing.

With the railing installation complete, all that was left was final sanding and cleaning of the railing.

The gooseneck is incredibly elegant and handsome with the balusters installed.

Here's a bird's eye view of the finished volute.

Altogether, the finished railing is exactly what we were hoping for.

It makes for such a wonderful detail, and we'll cherish it through time.

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