Archive for the ‘ Renderings ’ Category

The images below represent the design process for one customer’s new stairway.  The changes are listed before the renderings.  The program used to model the stairways is Sketchup.  The rendering engine used was Kerkythea.  Let me know what you think:
In this first image the newels and rails and threads were painted black.  The balusters alternate (except the balcony – my mistake)

Philadelphia Newel

Close up of the balcony

Philadelphia Newel

Close up of the balcony with the alternating balusters

Philadelphia Newel

Here we have changed the color to the newels and handrail.  We’ve stained the threads and added box newels to the balcony

Philadelphia Newel

close up of balcony

Philadelphia Newel

In the last rendering we have gone back to the original newels.  The customer decided to go with square bases on the newels (not shown)

Philadelphia Newel



This is a 6″ newel that we made for a customer on the East Coast.  The home owner  had an older newel that he really liked and asked if we could reproduce.  The difficulty on making an exact reproduction of any large piece is in either having it shipped to my shop in South Louisiana or in some cases removing it from a finished stairway.  Such was the issue here. The best that could be done was to take a good resolution picture and email it to me.  So after the picture arrived I made a rendering using Google Sketchup.  The original image is below with the model and changes desired by the home owner.

original image and my first model

original image and my first model


And finally the finished soft maple newel.  The cap was provided by the home owner.

Soft Maple Newel

I occasionally like to come up with a new design idea especially new newel designs. Below is my latest attempt.   Octagons have always had a warm place in my heart and apparently in the heart of many wood turners and woodworkers before me. Octagon newels and architectural design features were prevalent in the 19th century and before.
Most of the large stair manufacturing companies are more interested in smaller turned newels that can be produced quickly and never concern themselves, IMHO, with finer designs ideas.  Below are two possibilities. The first has a octagonal base – the second with a square base. Both are over-the-post newels – ie the handrail attaches to the newel cap and runs continuously “over” the newels.

For an understanding of how these caps attach to the handrail you might want to check out this article on my other site: newel cap installation

tapered octagon newel

tapered octagon newel

square base octagon newel

square base octagon newel

This is a new baluster design that I thought I would draw and render before I actually manufactured it. I got the idea from a stairway I saw in the Pacific Northwest. It is a simple taper with a small bead right at the tread. The size is somewhat deceiving from the rendering. The diameter of the bead at the base is actually 2 1/2″ inches. The pin at the top of the baluster is 1 ” in diameter. I wanted to try a two baluster per tread pattern but a three baluster per tread would look equally as good.

The drawing was made in Google Sketchup and rendered with Irender. I like the first rendering “style” supplied right out of the box by Sketchup.

tapered baluster

Below is a close up of the baluster. Sometimes simple is the better than anything else you could do. BTW the newel is one drawn in a previously post. You can see more here: Pedestal Newels.

tapered baluster with bead

Court House Baluster Reproductions

These balusters are for a court house in Texas.  They are rendered but not completed.  In fact, the samples are not made yet but I thought I would draw and render them in Sketchup and Renderworks.  I’ll be turning about a hundred of them in pine.  They measure 2 1/2″ X 27″.  I have not seen the rail profiles yet so my rendering is not yet complete.

court house baluster

The balusters below are renderings for a job delivered to a customer in Oregon – I previously posted about them.  I thought I would load the updated renderings from Sketchup.  These were a quite nice profile copied from an historic home of a Silas Dean.

Silas Dean Balusters

I have to confess this is a newel that I have not made nor is it one that I cannot “easily” make.  I don’t have the proper equipment to make it.  The machine that would make this newel is called a hauncher (hence the title).  Though I cannot presently make it, I can draw it.  If there is enough interest in the style I will purchase a hauncher to make it.   The newel is 8 inches wide at the base and about 50 inches high.  I really like this design.

Hanched Newel

I thought it would be neat (different) to turn a baluster with a round or tapered base instead of the more traditional square base.   These are two of the ideas I tried.  The first is simply a tapered foot base with a length of square .  The square and tapered foot are horizontally oriented  The top taper is elongated to follow the handrail angle – “rake” angle.  The newel used is my fluted N105.

tapered foot baluster

The second idea was to use rope twists above and below a square center.  The square section follows the rake angle.  The second taller baluster has a longer foot.

Rope Twist Baluster

I think everyone loves lighthouses- at least my wife and I do. And as stair newels have a the general shape of a lighthouse it seems appropriate that some would take the form of a lighthouse. I have to say that I designed one for a contractor in New York several years ago and he really didn’t like the outcome. One of the challenges of designing one is figuring out where to attach the handrail.  Since lighthouses are predominately cylindrical there is no natural “flat” in a post-to-post lighthouse newel to easily attach the rail.   An over-the-post version would eliminate (or minimize) the top of the lighthouse features. The only reasonable alternative is to attach the rail to the upper cylindrical part of the newel – an installation challenge.

Whatever!! The following renderings was designed by me as a prototype.   It is 5 1/2 inches across the octagonal base.  The handrail (not shown) would attach just below the band below the lighthouse lens.


The design below was copied by me from a magazine image provided by the customer.  The base is 10 inches (mammoth) X 54 inches high

Lighthouse Newel

This is the same newel as above with the stair detail shown.  The tread sort of wraps around the newel base.  We turned this in poplar and the newel was painted as shown.  The customer installed square balusters however.

Lighthouse Newel

The following renderings are different versions of a pedestal newel I am developing.  They go from about 5 1/2 inch base with 3 1/2 inch turning to about a 8 inch square base with 5 1/2 inch diameter turning.  All models depict over the post style newel but certainly a post to post newel could be made.  These would have to be shipped in pieces so that the final length of the base could be cut.  The column and moldings could be attached after the base is cut and installed.

The spiral top of the newel below is another variation on a theme. Of course, there are endless possibilities. The bases on these have recessed flat panels which could be made with raised panels or left plain. The ionic columns could be fluted as well as plain.