Renovation Update: Rail & Baluster Installation

It was really cool watching the staircase come together, since it was my job to sand and finish all of the stair parts. Even though Andy built all the parts and put the staircase together, this is definitely the project in the house where I feel like I helped the most. It made it so satisfying to watch come together.

In part 1 of this post, I explained how Andy installed the newel posts on our staircase.

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Part 2 – Rail, Baluster & Newel Post Cap Installation

Seeing the rails and balusters go up was very cool, not only because I had a part in it, but because it was the first time I really saw how things happened. I was too enthralled in the process, and admittedly busy taking care of other things around the house, that I sort of forgot to take photos of the baluster installation. I’ll explain as best I can with finished pictures. When it came to the rails, which are made of walnut, I was curious to see how the exact level and angle was determined. Turns out, you need a few levels and a few clamps.

DSC_8583-01 DSC_8586-01 DSC_8590-01This method was awesome because it really gave me a chance to visualize where the rail would fall, but also to figure out if it was at a comfortable height. Andy nailed it the first try, so he marked it off with painters tape, and measured and cut the rail.

DSC_8594-01To install the rails to the newel posts Andy attached them a couple ways. Most of them were attached through a groove in the bottom of the rail, but a few needed to be attached through the top. Either way, Andy drilled two angled holes on each end of each rail at the same angle as the rail and screwed them into each newel post.

DSC_8596-01For the rails screwed through the top, Andy made plugs and glued them into place.

DSC_8939DSC_8935Each rail attached through the bottom groove didn’t need to be plugged, since they were patched after the balusters were installed.

To install the rail to the wall where we had no newel post, Andy did a simple block. We debated on doing a half newel but though a block would look better.

DSC_8940For the balusters (painted poplar, also known as aspen) Andy and I decided on a spacing we liked (two balusters per tread). Andy then cut each baluster to the correct angle and nailed it into the bottom groove of the rail. Once all balusters were installed, he then cut and placed a piece between each baluster to fill in the groove. Each piece was secured with a finish nail.

DSC_8933Once the rails and balusters were installed, it was time for the crowning glory, and the final parts, of the staircase—newel post caps. When it came to what wood to use we debated on a nice maple, walnut, or beech. We finally decided on a chunky but simple walnut cap to tie in the rail. I loved the idea of bringing in some darker wood somewhere else. Even better, Andy had a piece of crotch walnut which he could make one of the caps out of.

DSC_8938 The other two caps were made of regular walnut and are also very beautiful. To keep the balance we put the other two on each end, and the crotch walnut in the middle. We also did this because the stairwell light is directly above the middle newel post, which highlights the beautiful cap even more.

DSC_8931 DSC_8934DSC_8961Overall we really love how the stairwell turned out, so here are a few more pictures of the final stairwell.

DSC_8929 DSC_8946 DSC_8952 DSC_8957 DSC_8959This spring we’re going to start building out the upstairs bathroom, and I can’t wait to share that process with you guys. It’s going to be beautiful when it’s done and should hopefully be an inspiration for all of those with a tiny 3/4 bathroom. Once the bathroom is finished, and funds permit, we’ll be able to start the big renovation on the original house which can only mean one thing—kitchen time!

For now we’re staying busy fixing our cars that keep breaking (oy vey, don’t ask – a new car is on the near horizon), working out in the woods with our neighbor, starting seeds for the garden should the snow decide to fully melt at any point this spring, and over all just doing the day to day working & typical house cleaning and errands!

xo,

Heather

Renovation Update: Newell Post Installation

We finished the stair tread installation a while back but we had yet to install the newel posts, rail and balusters.  Up until about a month ago we’d had a staircase with no rail, but that is no more! We officially have a full staircase which Andy completely built by hand. I’ll be breaking this post up into two so it won’t be so long.

Part 1 – Newel Post Installation

I have to first say I love the newel posts Andy built. Like the stairs, they’re made of beech and they’re beefy which looks so good in such a huge stairwell area. The photos below show how nice they are, but at the end of this series you’ll get to see the caps we put on them which are beautiful.

To install the newel posts, Andy started by ensuring they would have a solid base and be super secure. We have three posts, so we picked up three Sure-Tight newel fastening systems.

DSC_8449-01Next Andy test fitted where the newel posts would go, marked it off, found the center, and drilled a hole for the screw.

DSC_8496-01To ensure the screw would thread in easily, Andy utilized a soap scrap from Green Barn Soaps.

DSC_8499-01 DSC_8501-01Once the threads were soaped up, it easily screwed in.

DSC_8517-01A quick vacuum of the soap scraps that inevitably turnout while you screw it in, and a quick ensure that the screw was deep enough, and Andy was ready to install the newel post.

DSC_8523-01To start he vacuumed out the post from the bottom and top just to make sure no wood shavings from the drilling process were in the way.

DSC_8525-01 DSC_8526-01Once the newel post is put on the screw, there’s a nut that holds it down inside. The thing is, of the hundred wrenches we have, none would fit properly to be able to screw it in. Andy, of course, didn’t let this hold him back. I give you newel post installation fabricated wrench.

DSC_8547-01 DSC_8548-01Win! Andy removed just enough of the metal to be able to fit the wrench, and also turn it to tighten the nut.

DSC_8558-01 DSC_8560-01One by one the newel posts were fit, drilled, and installed.

DSC_8486-01DSC_8578-01I really love how these look installed, and will be sharing the rest of the installation process of the rails and balusters this week! While you’ll have to wait, don’t worry, you’re not the only one!

DSC_8575-01xo,

Heather