Changing the Newel-Post and Spindles on a Staircase

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by paulo333, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. paulo333

    paulo333 Member


    I have a request to change a newel post and fit new spindles, rails etc. on an internal staircase. There is only a stub of a newel there now (cut off about 6 inches above the first tread).

    The course I took years ago required us to make a full staircase from scratch, but I've done little of it since.

    Is removing an existing newel/stub and fitting a new one reasonably straightforward (i.e. not fraught with dangers)? Would it be better/easier to join the new one onto the existing stub? Any other tips?

    What sort of time are we looking at for an average chippy to do this (I'll add a bit extra to my time estimate as I know I'll be slower).

    Thanks a bunch.

  2. jasonb

    jasonb New Member

    Completely changing the post(s) is not an easy option as they are joined to the strings with mortice & tennon joints and may also be tied into the first floor joists.

    Its easier to drill out the top of the stub and fit a replacement newel but there are specific heights that the posts need to be cut off at(varies for bottom, landing and top post) to give the right handrail height.

    Take a look at the Burbidge site they have pdfs of whats required as well as all the parts you will need.

    Straight flight with top & bottom newel, base rail, handrail & spindles should be done in a day.

  3. dunc

    dunc New Member

    I use windowcare to bond the joints. Drill into the newel and the new post to accept a dowel rod. Then line it up and clamp it till it sets. Finish with planers and sanding tools.

    Removing the newel is not too hard. You'lll se how its put together when you chop it out. However make sure you support the stairs before working. Drill a sheet of material to the stringers touching the floor and this will take the weight of the stairs.
  4. dunc

    dunc New Member

    Once the newel is set you can lay out the handrails and spindles. I tend to use a sliding bevel to get the angle off the stringer and the newel, its usually around 41-43 degrees. I glue and nail the spindles. you may have to cut spacers as well.
  5. Graysters

    Graysters New Member

    If the flight does not have a bull step. Simply saw the newel away at the level of the string, then you can chisel away to the tenon. Once removed you can take your measurements from your bottom tread, remembering to allow 10mm on the cut from the newel shoulder, put plenty of white glue on the tenon. Before you setup the newel fit in your handrail, then level up your newel , your handrail as to be 90cm from the tread, using your sliding bevel get the angle of the cut for your spindles, two spindles per tread . Measure the distance up the rake ( between newels Then divide this by number of spindles (can not exceed 120mm gap )cut your first fillet to the angle and then check that your calculation is right, by putting in the fillet then the spindle , carry on doing this up the rake, once satisfied glue your first two fillets put them in both hand and base rails then fit your first spindle (plenty of glue on top and bottom of spindle stop it from rattling), make sure it is level, then carry on up the rake. Good Luck
  6. m x

    m x New Member

    Greysters I see what your saying but i believe regs say 100mm gap max between spindles.
    I'd be more inclined to suggest making a verticle mortice in the cut off stub and tennoning the new newel piece. Maybe also cut your tenon and part insert a small wedge to SLIGHTLY splay the tenon when it reaches the bottom of the mortice. Lots of polyurethene adhesive. Possibly even some through dowels to hold even tighter. Newels take a huge amount of multiplied force so it has to be rock solid.

    This is probably only suited to a painted finish unless you get a very good timber match.

    Something in the back of my mind also tells me that wickes do a special newel fixing piece for this sort of thing but dont hold me to it.

    Good luck with however you choose to do it, it will take a bit of carefull carpentry

    Cheers Dave
  7. Mr Mike

    Mr Mike New Member

    My two penneth for what it's worth is to fix as Dunc says with with sizeable dowel rod bonded in with Windowcare (wonderful stuff).

    m x is right re: 100mm maximum gap between spindles, though fox wedging a tenon is not something to be attempted unless you're absolutely confident. It has to be spot on first time, and you don't get a second chance with it.
  8. yorkshireboy

    yorkshireboy Member

    I agree .Fox wedges need to be spot on or you are stuffed.
    Dont make the mistake of cutting the spacers 100mm,moulded spindles are narrower in the middle leaving too big a gap.

    I use a length of brush handle as a dowel and mark the stub newel all round with a torpedo level,not a square or the new newel will not be plumb if the old one was out
  9. JHC

    JHC New Member

    Where is windowcare available from? Just done a Google search and it just gives me Companies......
  10. goldenboy

    goldenboy Super Member

    I think what people mean is Wudcare possibly. Its a PU
  11. Mr Mike

    Mr Mike New Member

    It's the best resin I'm aware for timber repairs. When cured it's incredibly strong, and you can sand, plane, screw into it with no problems.

    It doesn't shrink/crack/go brittle like other resins & moves with the wood when it expands or contracts.
  12. goldenboy

    goldenboy Super Member

    Fair enough, its not a product i am familiar with
  13. marky

    marky New Member

    No its not wudcare

    dryflex RP. Like dunc and others I have used it for years and it really is the best.

    I get mine directly from the original company.

    windowcare systems ltd
    01487 830311

    dont forget to ask them to send you a full brocure.

    they do a number of products but Dryflex RP is the standard.
  14. Mr Mike

    Mr Mike New Member

    Hi Marky,

    I used to get mine directly from Mike at Windowcare, Suffolk.....but they've recently got distribution through County Chemicals in Chingford, so I won't have to pay the steep carriage charges for next day delivery now which is a bonus.
  15. dunc

    dunc New Member

    I haven't tried County Chemicals yet. Are they organsied and sell fresh stuff etc?

    I don't use windowcare a lot but get a few jobs a year where I need it.
  16. Mr Mike

    Mr Mike New Member

    I haven't tried County Chem's either yet Dunc !? Last job I used it was last summer, before they moved their distribution to Chingford, so I can't vouch for them as yet, but I'd imagine that Mike would be ensuring that things run smoothly over there & that they have the correct 'winter/summer' products in stock.....
  17. marky

    marky New Member

    Mr Mike...

    Yeah, thats a killer, the carriage is a nightmare, of course it was ok if you ordered over £100 squids worth, but for little jobs is was pricey.

    Thanks for the heads up, I will order from Chingford now and save some money.

  18. marky

    marky New Member

    As a thought.

    I havent ordered since about August. Now need to put in an order.

    Mr mike & dunc - I will post my thoughts when I order this week.


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