Milestone: Thirty One Feet of Craftsman Style Porch Railing

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Project by DeLayne Peck posted 09-24-2013 05:08 PM 19716 views 7 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The railing is part of a three year down-to-dirt demolition and reconstruction of the porch on our 1925 Craftsman style home, necessitated by a sinking foundation. I think of the railing project as another installment payment on bad Karma I earned somewhere. This payment involved 5 weeks of work with construction-grade Douglas Fir 2×6s, 2×4s, over 230 feet of 2×2s, and commercially available architectural molding.

The inspiration for the original design of the railing was drawn Internet research. To carry through the elements of the rebuilt porch columns, posted previously, and porch skirting, I used the same molding. The railing was constructed in four elements:

Top Cap: A 6 degree bevel was ripped the length of both sides of 2×6s. The result center peak was sanded to rounded over the top. A 1/8” round-over router bit was sunk 3/16ths into both sides to create a edge band and break the stark appearance of the flat sides.

Bottom and Top Receiving Elements: Molding was simply applied to wide side of 2×4 stock with Tite Bond III and clamped. The 4” bottom molding applied to the 3 1/2’ wide 2×4s. This left a 1/2” dado or channel. The transition element, between the cap and balusters, was created by apply 1 3/4’” molding to 2×4 stock ripped to 1 1/4”, again creating 1/2” channel to receive the baluster assembly.

Balusters: All for sides of the 2×2’ stock was squared and smoothed though a planner. All 4 rough corners were relieved by routing a 1/4” deep campher or bevel. The railing required 120 balusters cut to 23”. The balusters were assembled between 1×4” strips ripped to fit the 1 1/2” x 1/2” channels, described above, and leave a 1/4” reveal. The horizontal “speared through tenon” look was created using 112 blocks precisely planed to 1/2” thinner that the balusters and centered between the camphers.

Assembly: A simple jig was used to set the spacing and square blocks at the same height. Each baluster and block were glued. Each baluster was pin nailed with sufficient side pressor to hold the blocks in place. Clamps were applied as the section progressed. Completed baluster sections were then simply glued into top and bottom channels secured by screws.

Lessons and Advice: Check City Building Codes before beginning. Build baluster sections from dead center outward. Be extremely careful to keep square and avoid accumulative error. To do so, make extensive use of reference blocks and jigs. Don’t buy the house if the porch is sinking.

Special Credit: To my wife, Joyce, who has become an avid, apprentice woodworker. She was right in there covered with saw dust, cutting, chopping, gluing, and nailing all the way!

-- DJ Peck, Lincoln Nebraska. Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

26 comments so far

View maplerock's profile


529 posts in 2282 days

#1 posted 09-24-2013 05:31 PM

What a pretty place! You live in Mayberry? The design and construction look flawless. Great job! When I built mine I built the rail too high… eye level. I had to lower it so we could see out!

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

View ohwoodeye's profile


2225 posts in 3635 days

#2 posted 09-24-2013 05:35 PM

Very nice transformation from Picture 5 to picture 1. Well done.

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View DeLayne Peck's profile

DeLayne Peck

667 posts in 2683 days

#3 posted 09-24-2013 05:50 PM

Our neighborhood is very popular with attractive, very fit, young women who walk, jog, and bicycle. I intentionally used the minimum railing height required by City Code so an old man sitting on the porch wouldn’t miss anything.

-- DJ Peck, Lincoln Nebraska. Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

View luv2learn's profile


2959 posts in 2784 days

#4 posted 09-24-2013 06:32 PM

Your time consuming rail paid real dividends as far as the overall appearance of your house. It looks great!!

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View a1Jim's profile


117713 posts in 4059 days

#5 posted 09-24-2013 06:41 PM

Nice work DJ

View dpow's profile


504 posts in 3325 days

#6 posted 09-24-2013 07:39 PM

The beginning to end transformation looks nice. A lot of work I’m sure, but well worth it. Thanks for the update.

-- Doug

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2774 days

#7 posted 09-24-2013 08:57 PM

Looks great! You did a very fine job and it is certainly better in appearance than what you had previously. Congratulations.

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

View oldnovice's profile


7498 posts in 3849 days

#8 posted 09-24-2013 09:19 PM

Does your wife approve of the railing height or are there young attractive men who jog by too?

Regardless, it adds to the appearance from both sides of the railing!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View AandCstyle's profile


3219 posts in 2739 days

#9 posted 09-24-2013 11:37 PM

What a dramatic improvement this is to your house’s appearance. I don’t think you are paying for bad karma, but, in reality, you are building great karma. That is a great thing to do for your house.

-- Art

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2306 days

#10 posted 09-25-2013 12:02 AM

Very nice improvement to the front of the house…makes a huge difference. Nicely done.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View Roger's profile


21010 posts in 3286 days

#11 posted 09-25-2013 12:32 AM

Lookin really good. Can ya come over and redo my deck and rails/?? lol

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3172 days

#12 posted 09-25-2013 12:48 AM

VERY classy improvement over the previous look. And good that you made it where you can sweep leaves and debris under it.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View DeLayne Peck's profile

DeLayne Peck

667 posts in 2683 days

#13 posted 09-25-2013 05:33 AM

Thank you, Brethern! I am grateful for the kind words.

The good humor award has to go to maplerock. I cracked up all day every time I thought about “What a pretty place! You live in Mayberry?”

My first three years of retirement, all that work, and where do I wind up? Mayberry. Shoot me.

-- DJ Peck, Lincoln Nebraska. Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

View DavidIN's profile


81 posts in 2469 days

#14 posted 09-25-2013 05:55 PM

redo looks much better, nice job

View bannerpond1's profile


397 posts in 2380 days

#15 posted 09-26-2013 12:42 AM

Excellent work! You have impeccable taste in architecture. You are rightfully proud of your home and your work.

-- --Dale Page

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