Putting it back together again - railing edition
August 19, 2014 7:30 AM   Subscribe

I removed this railing to move a big piece of furniture up the stairs. I'm having trouble re-installing it.

I got the whole thing off with a hack saw to free the railing, and then just hit the railing 'up' off the spindles by wacking it from underneath.

The spindles have dowels at the bottom, and are seated nicely. The top of the spindles are just sitting flush with the railing. There are no cut-outs or spaces for them to slide into. The railing is hardwood. I have tried nailing and screwing from an angle (figuring I'll just putty over the holes), without success. I can drill or nail through the spindles, but not the railing. I also need to toe-nail the railing to the wall from the bottom (was previously done from the top, and the hole filled with some kind of putty that was stained).

It was originally assembled with a nail gun. A thin piece of wood running the length of the railing (inset into the bottom of it) was nailed to the spindles from above, then that was nailed to the railing. Since the railing is in one piece now, reassembling it that way isn't an option.

Should I rent a compressor and nail gun and try to nail these from an angle? If so, what nail gun should I get?

posted by walkinginsunshine to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
here is a link to an image
posted by walkinginsunshine at 7:31 AM on August 19, 2014

I'm confused - what exactly did you cut with the hacksaw? and why aren't the spindles still attached to the thin piece of wood? or perhaps the thin piece of wood stayed with the handrail. Can you somehow remove that and replace it, attaching it to the spindles again first?

You need to be careful with railings, because people lean on them.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 10:17 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

On each end of the top railing, there was a nail shot in on a 45 degree angle, which attached the top railing to the walls on either side. I wedged in a hack saw to cut those nails. A couple of wacks with a mallet, and the top rail popped off easily. Small finish nails on the tops of the spindles (the park that touches the bottom of the top rail), indicate that a thin piece of wood that fits into a groove at the bottom of the top railing was attached to the spindles, the remainder of the top railing then attached to that. The top railing is all in one piece now, and the spindles are just sitting flush, like a butt joint, against the top railing.

Agreed, I want it to be well attached.
posted by walkinginsunshine at 10:34 AM on August 19, 2014

I would use a new piece of wood that you can nail to the spindles and then attach the railing to it, much like original was constructed. A smaller piece that matches the color and width of the spindles would stand out but look intentional, or a piece that matched the color of the railing and was the same length and width would blend in. Are there other railings in the house that you have to match?
posted by soelo at 11:08 AM on August 19, 2014

How about putting dowels in at the top, too?

An inch or so in the spindles and half an inch in the railing, with holes drilled right through the thin piece of wood on the bottom of the railing
posted by jamjam at 1:57 PM on August 19, 2014

I assume the top railing was nailed into studs or blocking? Just nails seems like it wouldn't be strong enough, though. Maybe you could drill pocket holes underneath the ends of the railing and use a few big, strong screws to screw into the stud/blocking. Or maybe you could use metal L brackets (chisel out little pockets underneath and on the side of the railing to hide the bracket) in a similar fashion. For the top of the spindles, can't you use a new piece of would like soelo says?
posted by odin53 at 2:01 PM on August 19, 2014

I realize this is an odd and probably unworkable suggestion, but in the unlikely event that the spindles are free to turn on their dowels, you could install double-ended wood screws into the tops of the dowels, start the other ends of the screws into the bottom of the railing, and screw the railing down by turning the spindles sequentially a bit at a time until the railing is firmly seated, and then just a little more to line up the spindles.
posted by jamjam at 3:33 PM on August 19, 2014

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