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Forum topic by gtrgeo posted 12-12-2019 08:42 PM 400 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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gtrgeo

84 posts in 1067 days


12-12-2019 08:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: stairs handrail baluster milling shaping arts and crafts tip question

I am planning some remodel on the stairs in my home and have bottomed out on everything except the handrail. I am having a hard time finding a ready-made handrail that matches what I have envisioned for the staircase. Has anyone attempted to mill their own handrail and have some tips to offer. I believe I have the tools necessary in my shop and will need to purchase some router bits for the profiles.

I am looking for something similar to this only wider and probably a little more square features at the bottom. I am looking for an arts and crafts look. Handrail will also need to be plowed in the bottom to accept balusters.

Has anyone here milled their own handrail and have any suggestions or tips? Working out the steps in my head it would seem I would cut the two tapers on the top first probably at the table saw. Then mill the plow in the bottom. Lastly would be routing the side profiles at the router table. Given the top heavy nature of the profile I was thinking I may need to have a piece attached to the bottom to provide stability both on the router table and against the fence but am not sure about this.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

Thanks, George


8 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

4660 posts in 2024 days


#1 posted 01-19-2020 03:57 PM

Did you come up with what you need? I haven’t done it myself but they do make router bits specifically for routing handrail profiles. Maybe you can fine one to match what you are looking for.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Jared_S

296 posts in 596 days


#2 posted 01-19-2020 05:44 PM

Running it on a decent sized shaper or even a little Williams and hussey moulder would work well.

Otherwise just having it run by a millwork shop will likely be cheaper.

View gtrgeo's profile

gtrgeo

84 posts in 1067 days


#3 posted 01-21-2020 12:47 AM



Did you come up with what you need? I haven t done it myself but they do make router bits specifically for routing handrail profiles. Maybe you can fine one to match what you are looking for.

- Lazyman

Thanks for asking. After I posted this I started looking around and found several places with router bits for handrail although their only appears to be a couple profiles available. I am looking to stay with clean lines so I think I will be going with what is called a “Traditional” profile. Here is a sketch of what it may look like although I am still working out the final profile and dimensions.

I am still a ways away from milling the handrail as the stairs had a pony wall along one side and I have been working on the demo, changes in framing, and preparation of stairs and landings. This railing will replace the wall along the landing as well as the hallway upstairs. I am also replacing carpet in those areas with hardwood. Working evenings and weekends while trying to minimize impact to our lives means these things tend to drag out.

I did locate a local seller who offered this profile at ~$15lf. I contemplated going this route in effort to reduce the time and work but have decided to attempt to mill it myself. I do have a fair amount of money invested in tools, I may as well use them. I also like the idea of being able to create a wider matching profile for the landing and hallway rails while keeping the rails on the stairs in line with code requirements.

Thanks, George

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gtrgeo

84 posts in 1067 days


#4 posted 01-21-2020 12:51 AM



Running it on a decent sized shaper or even a little Williams and hussey moulder would work well.

Otherwise just having it run by a millwork shop will likely be cheaper.

- Jared_S

I can see where a shaper may be preferred for running something like this but I do not have access to one. I am also not sure where to locate a millwork shop. We do have some shops in the area but they seem to be focused on cabinet work. I do have a router table with an Incra lift and the 3hp Porter Cable router so I should be able to run any kind of router bit I may come across.

Thanks, George

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Jared_S

296 posts in 596 days


#5 posted 01-21-2020 02:02 AM

Not sure where you are, but just Googling millwork or lumber yard or possibly looking in the yellow pages should get you what you need.

Also you could have it shipped.

Here is that profile from a shop that used to be local to me (first place I looked) for $5.50/lf.
https://www.bairdbrothers.com/mobile/2-14-x-2-14-Red-Oak-Challis-Handrail-LJ6601-P14681.aspx

I get wanting to do it yourself, but this is a large profile for a router, and it’s a off the shelf design.

View theart's profile

theart

156 posts in 1191 days


#6 posted 01-21-2020 02:51 PM


Has anyone here milled their own handrail and have any suggestions or tips? Working out the steps in my head it would seem I would cut the two tapers on the top first probably at the table saw. Then mill the plow in the bottom. Lastly would be routing the side profiles at the router table. Given the top heavy nature of the profile I was thinking I may need to have a piece attached to the bottom to provide stability both on the router table and against the fence but am not sure about this.

I would start with the dado on the bottom, then rout the side profiles. The cleanest way to get the ridge on the top might be with a planer.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

4660 posts in 2024 days


#7 posted 01-21-2020 03:04 PM

Since the top appears to be 2 flats making a ridge, I think that I would approach by cutting the top first. You may be able to cut the flats on the table saw, laying it on its side with the blade tilted. Once you profile the sides, you no longer have a reference face for milling the top; however, to mill the roundover, you may have to use a tilting router table or something similar, unless you can find a specific profile bit that provides the correct curve that doesn’t impact the flats. An oversized roundover might work but you may have to do lots of sanding to smooth out the intersection between the flat and the roundover.

I am sure that each one of us could come up with a different way to do this.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View gtrgeo's profile

gtrgeo

84 posts in 1067 days


#8 posted 01-21-2020 08:28 PM

Lazyman – I am thinking the same thing regarding the ridge on top.

My guess as to how the process will go
- glue up blanks and mill to size on jointer, planer, and table saw.
- plow groove in bottom on table saw with dado
- cut 2 chamfers on top using table saw with blade tilted
- route side profiles on router table
I think the piece will be stable enough with the width of the bottom and riding against the router table fence. I will be running test pieces to confirm order while looking for possible improvements and or problem areas

Almost every router bit maker seems to have these same profiles for the handrail. These are from Whiteside which I would likely buy if I was doing this on a regular basis. Since this is likely to be a one-off I may buy from Magnate as I have used them prior for a large cove bit and found the quality to be excellent at a reasonable price. I am leaning towards the #3304 or “Traditional” profile but will likely do some more sketches using the dimensions of the bits and review with my wife before bottoming out on a decision.

I am still looking for options to purchase and may go that route if I run across a profile we like at a more reasonable cost. Honestly I am more driven by a desire to try this than cost at this point but as the project wears on that may change.

George

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