diminishing stairs

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by Andy 1976, Nov 11, 2021.

  1. Andy 1976

    Andy 1976 New Member

    Hi all.

    I'm new to the forum .

    Can I get some advice please about diminishing stairs. I want to put some in my house but not sure of a couple things.

    Do I have to use the banister on the ceiling part or can I use the base rail?

    If I use the banister would I have to plane it flat.

    Also how would I get the correct mitre for the stair banister to the ceiling banister if used ?

    Any help would be appreciated
  2. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    Check this for an example


    The handrail gives a truer transition and finish fixed underneath the apron lining than baserail would, though it can also depend on the profile you choose.

    The mitre is simply half of the pitch of the staircase e.g. a 42degree pitch would yield a 21degree cut on each piece of handrail.
  3. Andy 1976

    Andy 1976 New Member

    Hi there. That's a great picture good work. I'm going to sort mine this weekend. Couple more questions how high do the spindles have to be ?

    Thanks for the advice on the mitre cuts I didn't know that thanks.
  4. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    Theoretically to regulations the handrail should be between 900-1000mm high measured vertically from the pitch line(google it) then you would cut your spindles to suit, most spindles are around 900mm long I believe so that sets the governing factor along with the height of the newel post to determine the position of the handrail. Funnily enough I fitted a full balustrade on Sunday whereby the bottom newel was nearly a foot shorter in height than it should have been, yet that was the height the homeowner wanted to keep and work with.
  5. Andy 1976

    Andy 1976 New Member

    Hi. Can I ask for some advice I've started my banister got the newl post in fine. But I'm struggling on the hand rail. The angle of the stairs are 42 degrees but when I mark this on the hand rail and go to cut on the mitre saw ar 42 it doesn't match up ? What am I doing wrong stressing me out lol
  6. woodbutcherbower

    woodbutcherbower Well-Known Member

    Each mitre cut on the parts to be jointed should be 21 degrees, not 42 - just as Jord says above in his first post.
  7. ginger tuffs

    ginger tuffs Screwfix Select

    It may be your newel post is not level if handrail fits bottom that what it is if so pull post to enable a fit
    Kitfit likes this.
  8. WillyEckerslike

    WillyEckerslike Screwfix Select

    Don't forget that mitre saws actually show the inverse of the angle you've read.....

    Your 90° reading is 0° on a mitre saw. It's only at 45° where they coincide. So to cut a piece of wood to a 70°, angle you set your saw at 20°.
  9. WillyEckerslike

    WillyEckerslike Screwfix Select

    Replied to your post on FOG Butch.

    Sorry OP, using your thread for a PM. As you'll see this forum is a really great source of help but it's limited in its functionality. A lot of good contributors have become disenchanted and left. It could be so much better.
    Astramax and woodbutcherbower like this.
  10. woodbutcherbower

    woodbutcherbower Well-Known Member

    @WillyEckerslike I saw it and replied also. Meeting in secret :) I haven’t been on there in a long while - I threw a strop and flounced off in the face of the forum being totally dominated by well-heeled US hobbyists with immaculate home ‘shops’ full of megabucks kit which all looks like it’s never been used in anger - these are guys who have a dedicated Systainer just to keep a pencil in, plus another one for the paintbrush they own. And these guys are all absolute experts on everything.

    Similar apologies to the OP for invading your thread. We’re done now.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
    WillyEckerslike likes this.
  11. Astramax

    Astramax Super Member

    Did they leave or were they pushed?
    WillyEckerslike likes this.
  12. kitfit1

    kitfit1 Screwfix Select

    Not quite done.............just joined there myself :D
    Your right as well, they are some very well-heeled hobbyists.....................most with more money than sense.
  13. Andy 1976

    Andy 1976 New Member

    I'm really struggling on the newel cut I've got my angle I have tries cutting with hand saw but it's not straight I've wasted some rail. Tried the mitre saw but it won't cut that angle. I've attached a pic of the newel post. What's the best way to cut it correctly. I got the base rail cut OK with the same angle. I've attached a pic of the hand rail.

    Attached Files:

  14. woodbutcherbower

    woodbutcherbower Well-Known Member

    Handrails really need a bevel cut rather than a mitre. Either the bottom (flat) surface or the top (flat) surface of the rail needs to sit dead flat on the bed of the saw, otherwise you're never going to get an accurate cut. Does your saw have a bevel function?

  15. Andy 1976

    Andy 1976 New Member

    Yes got bevel function I tried that but still no joy. I got a angle finder and adjustable bevel which comes out at 42 degrees.
  16. woodbutcherbower

    woodbutcherbower Well-Known Member

    Is your problem the fact that your saw's too small to make a bevel cut all the way through the timber? If so - cut as far through as it as your saw will allow, then carefully finish the cut using a handsaw. The most important thing is that when making the bevel cut - your handrail must be sitting dead flat on the bed of the saw otherwise your bevel angle won't be exactly 42 degrees. Get someone to hold the far end of the rail steady for you, or support it on books etc.
  17. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    Invest in a couple of solo quick speed clamps from Axminster tools, they are about a tenner each but are utterly priceless when working on your own.

    Cut two spindles at 42 degrees and at the correct height then countersink and pilot drill the bottom of one into the baserail as far up the baserail as you can go before the handrail changes direction, screw it to the baserail temporarily to use it as a support for your handrail. Clamp the other one to the bottom newel post and make sure it's centralised over the newel and slotted into the baserail as opposed to making it plumb, if the newel is plumb then the spindle should be. Now, cut a small offcut of handrail and offer it up to sit on top of the bottom spindle butted tight against the newel. Mark a line around the handrail offcut for reference and take time to get the cut correct, if the newel is twisted then you'll need to run a handsaw down the cut to straighten it up, then transfer the angle on the offcut to the mitre saw and cut the real handrail.

    Offer the handrail up to sit on the bottom and top spindle then angle the top spindle outwards to let the handrail run past the ceiling area where the intersecting level handrail will occur then pencil gently on the edge of the ceiling or Apron lining the top and bottom of the handrail, now I would suggest cutting the shorter level return handrail first being as if you bugger it up at least you may have enough to have another go, cut and fix this via screwing to the underside of the ceiling joist, you have the marks of the longer handrail to work to go find the length of the shorter piece, remember that the angle is half of your stair pitch, so 21 degrees.

    If your ceiling is out of level then this will affect your mitre so unless it's miles out just pack the handrail down slightly so it's level then the mitres will line up providing your cuts are accurate.

    Once the shorter handrail is fixed in place, trim the longer one to fit tightly into it then mark it for length at the newel end, use your reference marks from earlier with the small offcut. Leave half an inch or so on and keep trimming it back until it's a good fit, being as if you cut the line you marked then it may be a touch short as you've marked it at an angle alongside the newel.

    Once the handrail fits and you're happy, remove them, lay them down on a flat surface butted together then pilot drill and countersink the shorter one through into the longer one so the fixings will be hidden by the ceiling, then apply lots of PVA or titebond wood glue to both mitres then screw the handrails together, making sure the screw isn't too long to come out of the face of the handrail, glue the two open ends, offer it up, then screw into the bottom newel with two screws to secure it at the bottom and screw up into the joist to sort the top.

    Time for spindles, and a beer.
  18. Andy 1976

    Andy 1976 New Member

    Hello there.

    Well today I've finally completed the stairs my god what a nightmare of a job lol. Bloody knackered now lol.

    Had an issue with my mitres as you can see I'm the pic I had to fill the small gap with wood filler hopefully won't show much when stained or varnished my newel post is a little twisted I only noticed last night doh. Still got to fill the screw holes up and another screw to secure the newel then sand it all down

    Thanks to all the comments and big thanks to jord86 for the get gow to guide .

    No more stair diy for me.

    Attached Files:

  19. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    Yes, Yessss, good for you, Im glad it worked out.
    woodbutcherbower and Andy 1976 like this.
  20. woodbutcherbower

    woodbutcherbower Well-Known Member

    @Andy 1976 for a first-timer - that’s a very, very tidy effort. Well done you.

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