Stair Fixings
August 21, 2015 6:07 AM   Subscribe

I am (probably foolishly) building a set of stairs. I haven't done this before. Could you help me not miss out any bits I need.

So, I'm replacing a boat ladder with a flight of stairs (Actually overbuilding, the ladder will still be in place underneath). I'm doing it myself because I can't afford to hire anyone to do it and because I like to learn these sorts of things.

I am pretty sure I've got all the angles sorted out. There were some complications, like having enough head clearance and slope angle and so on, which I solved with a spreadsheet and some trigonometry and checking various marine and home regulations. (My stairs are steep, but they do pass the regs, and are a hell of a lot safer than the ladder)

I've ordered spindles (32mm wide by 900mm tall) and appropriate handrails and baserails and I think I've ordered the correct newel post.
I am currently ordering wood to make the stringers and treads.

These things will almost certainly become obvious when I actually see the things I've ordered, but they're all being ordered online and I'm trying to get everything ready to go quickly.

So my questions are:
How are spindles usually fixed to handrails and baserails.
I was envisaging using a mitre saw to cut the base, sticking them in the groove and adding fillets all around and then gluing them in place. Or is there a kind of bolt generally used?

How are handrails and baserails generally attached to the Newel post?
I've only seen drawings of the bits online, so I'm a little unsure.
My wood supplier has things called Rail Bolts, but I got the impression these were for joining handrail sections together.

What do you think I have missed out and will be cursing myself for when I'm halfway through building and all the shops are closed?

Oh, is it assumed that a newel post will always have a hole in the top for a decorative cap thing?
posted by Just this guy, y'know to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
YouTube is great for this kind of thing.
posted by flabdablet at 6:42 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

My uninformed opinion from taking apart railings in my house (that may or may not have been up to code or standards, it's that kind of house) is that you get a spindle-diameter size spade bit to drill a hole about 1/2-3/4" deep into the railing, to create a perfect little pocket for the end of the spindle to fit into. Add glue.

The post will very very likely have a hole for the dowel of the decorative element, if not just drill one. Or if you're asking the probability of finding a post without a hole on the top, it's possible, but probably not worth the trouble unless you're seriously anti-decorative-knob.
posted by aimedwander at 6:46 AM on August 21, 2015

If it were me, I'd go to the library and consult a book on building stairs, such as Building Stairs, or even buy one if my library didn't have it.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:05 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can use a rail and post bolt for attaching rails to, well, your posts.
posted by halogen at 7:50 AM on August 21, 2015


I ended up needing to add a curve to the handrails and so ordered a curve sections, which was not quite right, but it was close enough. Rigorous sanding will take care of the rough edges. Anyway, the rail bolts were useful for holding that in place, but I just screwed the handrail into the Newel post with big woodscrews.

The newel post did not have a hole for a decorative element, but I bought one anyway and drilled a hole.
I was mainly asking because I wasn't sure if I wanted to add one and didn't want to be forced into it.

I've decided to slightly redo the treads so this evening will be ordering some nice bullnosed mouldings and repurposing the existing treads as risers.
There also some finishing left to be done, and a bit of wall building and tiling, but all in all it was a success.

Oh, and YouTube videos of people building stuff are great. I recommend them!
Now I know how to build stairs!
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:06 AM on October 12, 2015

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