Necessity is the Mother of Invention

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Project by EarlS posted 12-30-2015 10:35 PM 3866 views 8 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I know the title sounds a lot more glamorous than Arts and Crafts handrail. However, there is a connection.

I’ve been mulling over a handrail that would match the railing I completed earlier this year. Adding to the issue is the overall length needed is 17 ft and don’t have anything remotely long enough in 5/4 or 6/4 cherry to use.

After sorting and resorting my available lumber I realized that I had several 4-5 ft boards left over from other projects that I could string together to make the length. Problem #1 solved – I have enough lumber for the project.

Problem #2 took a little longer and a lot of trying out various looks until my wife agreed with the look of a half-lap joint pinned with 3/8 square G&G plugs made out of walnut. Just to add a little more style I also added a center spline to the joint, also made from walnut with a 1/16” pillow profile.

The second picture shows the relevant pieces. I over-sized the center piece to make the fit a little easier. From there it was a matter of making the 1/2 laps using the stacked dado set and mortising out the square plugs. I wound up making 5 sections and the top and bottom return pieces. I assembled the top half and the bottom half as separate sections and then checked the fit on the stairs before I glued the entire piece together. I did wind up having to add a small section to make the final length. The sides and ends were rounded over with a 3/8 round over bit and everything got plenty of hand sanding to make a smooth piece with no sharp edges. I applied some sealer, a couple of coats of Watco cherry oil, and followed up with 2 light coats of polyurethane. After buffing the finish out with a 1500 grit pad, I used Behlens wax to bring out the luster.

So you see, necessity drove the need for the handrail, but in true LJ fashion, I was able to “invent” some design elements to make it a little more visually interesting. You can also see my helpers, Charlie and Linus, in the last picture.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

17 comments so far

View AandCstyle's profile


3306 posts in 3542 days

#1 posted 12-30-2015 10:50 PM

Earl, generally, I think many GG projects are over done with too many design features, but I think your railing and hand rail look just right. Your work is incredibly well done. Thanks for sharing!

-- Art

View Richard's profile


1957 posts in 3975 days

#2 posted 12-30-2015 11:18 PM

Very nice job on the rail and it seems to match the rest of the work very well.

View htl's profile


5598 posts in 2444 days

#3 posted 12-31-2015 12:11 AM

Really nicely done, love the look and it fits in just right.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4432 days

#4 posted 12-31-2015 01:30 AM

I love this G&G handrail—haven’t seen that before! You didn’t overdo the details which looks better to me, and your helpers look like they approve, too!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View Ivan's profile


17049 posts in 4152 days

#5 posted 12-31-2015 07:04 AM

Realy outstanding work! I appretiate the effort you put in it.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4549 posts in 3846 days

#6 posted 12-31-2015 07:31 AM


It looks really nice and way better then the ones sold in stores.

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

1128 posts in 4716 days

#7 posted 12-31-2015 01:54 PM

Can’t go wrong with G&G style and solutions. Love the sandwiched half lap

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3628 days

#8 posted 12-31-2015 03:11 PM

looks great

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4151 days

#9 posted 12-31-2015 03:15 PM

It’s a very interesting project. Nice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Freddy B.'s profile

Freddy B.

6 posts in 2469 days

#10 posted 12-31-2015 06:40 PM

Looks awesome, and a great solution to the length issue you described.
I’m gonna store this idea for future use for sure!
Thanks for sharing.


View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 4649 days

#11 posted 12-31-2015 06:58 PM

Great looking project. Well executed and a great idea to use the shorts to fabricate the rail.

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3292 days

#12 posted 12-31-2015 07:11 PM

Looks great and I really like the dark contrasting piece sandwiched into the half-laps !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View a1Jim's profile


118296 posts in 4862 days

#13 posted 12-31-2015 07:19 PM

Nice work Earl,super looking handrail .


View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3577 days

#14 posted 12-31-2015 09:27 PM

Outstanding job. It really turned out beautiful.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Jeff Mazur's profile

Jeff Mazur

119 posts in 2588 days

#15 posted 12-31-2015 09:29 PM

I agree with Art 100% – a lot of G&G pieces are too busy to suit my tastes, but your handrail is very beautiful and tastefully done. Makes me want to revisit other G&G designs I’ve seen and not quite liked, to see if they can be transformed into a “G&G Lite” look, like your handrail. Happy New Year!

-- Woodworking is a beautiful, physical, cerebral, and noble art.

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