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  • continuous handrail

    I am a cabinet maker who needs to learn to say no. I asked about mitering a handrail earlier, and was not very clear. I need a continuos handrail on an L shaped stair case that has wedge shaped treads, and no landing. there doesn't seem to be any kind of transition, goose neck, whatever to go around the 90 deg. corner. Any Ideas? I really appreciate the help. (by the way the hand rail isn't round)

    Thanks.

  • #2
    Re: continuous handrail

    You will have to miter the rail to fit and make your own transitions. I get all my rail brackets up and then start from the bottom and work my way up.

    Gary W.

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    • #3
      Re: continuous handrail

      Kevin; I did a similar layout not long ago; had to mount the rail on one leg of the L at a different height than the other in order to make a decent transition around the winders. Winders present a unique problem because they "climb" so quickly at the inside corner where the handrail must follow.

      If you can, fiddle around with some scraps of cheap stock that approximate the size of your rail, and make your test cuts and experiments with the scrap stock (and any blocking, if one rail has to be height-adjusted) laying directly on the tread nosings. It may take a bit of study time, but the answer is there.

      Once you get past this one, don't say no. Try it again, but charge accordingly. Stair and handrail work is pretty high up there on the skill level of finish carpentry, some say the highest.

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      • #4
        Re: continuous handrail

        Kevin if continuous is the key operative word here and I'm understanding your question(s) correctly what you really want is what's called a Wreath turn and there aren't any stock manufactured parts that make those turns. I know because we happen to make wreath turns and it gets us projects that other companies just don't have the capability to do. This ain't easy stuff at all to fabricate and it's also hard to teach.

        This is an example of a 180 degree handrail wreath turn and a parapet cap wreath turn but I think it what your talking about an looking for?


        ParadigmProjects Brookfield Handrail Wreath Turn

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        • #5
          Re: continuous handrail

          Here's a link to another example of a wreath turn we've fabricated. There are a couple of views of it there so click around.


          The Kitchen Hall Stair Railing/MidgKRail

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          • #6
            Re: continuous handrail

            If the "continuous" specification is something you just can't get around now then I would suggest looking for a shop or craftsperson that has the capability to make you this kind of piece and that in an of itself is not an easy task either since it's such a rarity. And you can expect it to be extraordinarily expensive too. We charge well in excess of $2000 just for the wreath turn pieces I illustrated in those URLs. It all depends on the turn but that's something you should be ready for. We make our by hand but there are shops out there with 5-axis CNC machines that can make these parts that way but you have to have some real precise geometry to give them for them to make them or have them come to template your project.

            You may not want to hear this but interestingly we got in to making these when I said yes to a job that required wreath turns and then couldn't find anybody that could make the parts for us. Necessity became the father of invention. I just plain figured out how to do it as far a laying out the wood and glueing up the blank to be shaped but I have something of a background in sculpture.

            Other than that making L or even U shaped turns are more often typically done by easing a descending rail and then making the turn on the level with mitered rail connections and then goosenecking down to an easing that then continues as a descending rail again.

            This photos on this page show a post-to-post installation but if you can imagine a level mitered 90 degree turn where the newel posts are you can see how that type of turn is usually done.


            Pine Office Stair & Wainscoting

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            • #7
              Re: continuous handrail

              Nice shots Jerrald. The Brookfield work is mighty fine.

              John

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              • #8
                Re: continuous handrail

                Thanks John I wish I had more to post but I haven't been keeping up with the photos (or the pages for that matter) for that site this past year so that's all I have of wreath turns online right now.

                I liked that Brookfiled project particualry because it was cherry and as it turned out other people liked that balustrades look (brass, iron and cherry) so much we've done it three more times elsewhere,


                The Brookfield Lane Project

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                • #9
                  Re: continuous handrail

                  Jerrald,

                  Beautiful rail work.

                  Kevin,

                  I layout all my rails on the stairs in place then raise them in place after I put in the posts. This gives an accurate layout without messing around with alot of clamps. I have never needed to do what you are doing but I would try to do at stated above: Put the rail on the treads then work with them to see if any fittings can help it work out right. I was sketching on paper ans was wondering if a over easing,90 turn, over easing, up easing might work. Probably not because paper sketching does not work well for that type of layout so maybe get a few fittings and work with it in place on the stairs. Looking at Jerralds work I also wonder if a couple short blocks of oak carved to transition the stock fittings might work.

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                  • #10
                    Re: continuous handrail

                    Jerrald

                    Great looking work, wonderful details. Who did do the cabinetry and mantels? Was that you also?

                    Steve

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                    • #11
                      Re: continuous handrail

                      Jerrald Nice work!
                      Thanks for the advice. I had hoped there was something a little easier, but Guess not.
                      I used to be a pattern maker if you know what that is. This type of wreath turn is pretty similar to building an impeller. I know I can figure it out. Know all I have to do is figure out how to charge for such work.
                      Again really nice work Jerrald. Stand Proud.
                      Thanks All.

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                      • #12

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                        • #13

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                          • #14
                            Re: continuous handrail

                            Thanks Joe, the link to the "Brookfield" railing (and the other links as well) show original first time efforts however the "Brookfield" look is now a "style" in our "catalog" and we've done that particular style of balustrade (rail and balusters) three more times since then. As for the Brookfield railing profile alone I'm not at all sure how many times we've use that now but it's been a lot now. It's really popular . I guess it turned out to be just the right size and mass that people really like it. 9 times out of 10 though it's used with 1/2" metal balusters or other light metal work since it is so "light" looking itself. With wooden balusters which are generally have a heavier looking appearance that profile at that size starts to look wimpy.

                            In one sense however the "Brookfield" railing on that project was duplicated in that the level serpentine curves were formed or templated first in I think it was MDF and then those patterns were placed on top of these huge blocks of 3" thick cherry and we cut them from that. In fact what we did instead of pushing those huge blocks of cherry which if I recall correctly sometimes were 14" wide by 13 or 14 feet long through the band saw following the curves, we supported the cherry and put the band saw on wheels and moved it through the timber. Turned out to be a great idea for a technique that we've used again and again on other heavy timber too. It's a great technique for cutting ogees on the ends of pergola beams and stuff like that

                            We do have a few rails we've duplicated and or copied from existing rails but none of the ones in this batch of links are that kind of project. My website is such a disorganized mess right now while I think I may know what project your referring to but I just can't find it. I can't remember the client's name which sure would help a lot.

                            I do however have one project that I know is not on the website at all yet where we took out sections of an existing rail and duplicated the railing pattern with different sweeps and turns on the easing and stuff and I think that may have been one of the tougher projects we've done in that you're not using the existing patterns for the new parts but the start points and end points of the sections you're replacing still have to be exactly nuts-dead-on-perfect with the correct angles cut on them otherwise the rest of the existing railing gets thrown off and out of plumb. An it wasn't an easy profile to duplicate either! I really should get that one on the web site sometime soon.

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                            • #15
                              Re: continuous handrail

                              Jerald,

                              Very kind of you to share so much with the rest of us. Ive only been in buisiness for about four years now. I just can't seem to find people who are looking for the level of work your doing. I find it encouraging to see some one out there is able find, or be found by these types of people.
                              We are getting ready to build a small show room, I hope it will help draw in some higher end customers, and give us more credibility.

                              Kevin.

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