Archive for the ‘ stair projects ’ Category

I thought these newels were an interesting switch.  The newel cap that we added to these is normally reserved for an over-the-post newel where the hand rail miters into the cap.  But in this case the customers wanted the cap added to a post-to-post newel.  These are crafted in poplar to be painted.  The larger of the four newel ( eight inches wide at the base) will sit at the bottom of the stairway – the “starters”.  The smaller, five an one half inch newels will be installed at the balcony level.

post to post newels

These marching newels and balusters went to a home in Key West, FL. Because Key West is a coastal city, the architect wanted to use a maritime design for the stairway. We had designed a lighthouse newel once before for a customer in NC and turned this one in a similar pattern. The balusters were designed to pick up the same lines as the newel. The handrail and fittings are in mahogany. This should make for a very fine staircase.

lighthouse newels unprimed poplar

lighthouse balusters

primed lighthouse newels

By the way, the large newel measures 9 inches wide by four foot 10 inches.  The smaller newels are 4 3/4″ and 5 1/2″ wide.

alder stair newels

These alder stair newels were turned for a customer in the Colorado Springs, CO area. They measure 5 1/2 inches X 44 inches. The newel cap is not shown but will match the handrail sample sent to me (below). Obviously the newels are over-the-post newels. The newel cap (with matching handrail profile) will be mitered to receive the handrail.

alder handrail

poplar balusters

These are for a customer in San Francisco. They are part of a renovation for an older home. Although the originals were much shorter these mimic them (we stretched the “turned” portion). One of the unusual aspects of these is that the largest diameter (at the center) is 1 3/4″. The squares, however, are only 1 1/4″.

We were just contracted by a customer to make these poplar balusters and starter newel for a home in Connecticut. The post-to-post newel has an octagon base middle and top. The top id quite narrow and will require the handrail to attach horizontally. As such, an up easing will have to be used. The handrail attaching on the rake angle would be too wide for the newel top. The newel measures 8″ at the widest. The design is based on the image from a magazine article and came off quite nicely. The balusters are a based on the image from the same magazine article. The pattern was a common pattern used at the turn of the last century and prior to.
I did not turn these. My partner in crime (turning crime that is) turned these. Great job Walter!

Poplar Newel  8inch wide

poplar balusters 1 3/4 inch

I suspect that most of my readers are more prone to traditional stair design because that is more of what I have posted about here and at Architectural Turnings. You may, however, like to see what others are doing (other architects and designers that is) in the design arena. At the least, you may have yourself a good laugh and “make your day”. Or you may see something you like or come away with a few good ideas. You see some of these “minimalist” stair designs here: Modern Stair Designs

One of the realities about the footprint of any staircase design is that it takes up a lot of space.  One of the solutions to this reality is to incorporate usable storage beneath the stairs.  The has an article on making this possible.  The image they they have used is reason enough to go there to read the article.  One of the first projects I ever worked on was to add a drawer system into the space under a stairway.  You’ll find some practical ways to do this yourself or hire someone else to do it here: Stair Storage

If you are really into stair design and stair ideas like I am you will get a “fix” on your addition at This site is about architecture and design but has quite a huge number of posts related to stairs. Most of the stair posts, I should add, are “modern” in style and will turn traditionalist off. But even traditionalist should come away with a few clever ideas that will work into the traditionalist mind set. You can see their site here:

You may have seen these stair design images on the web. I think they have probably been out there for some time. I use the phase “out there” on purpose. You’ll understand when you see these unique stair images. You can see them here: Creative Stair Designs

I occasionally have customers that request a staircase with large balusters. The challenge with creating a staircase with extra large balusters is two fold:

  • The handrail size required by codes restrictions will not accommodate a large baluster top. As such, most manufactured handrails are designed for 1 1/4″ or 1 3/4″ balusters.
  • It may be difficult to accommodate the four inch rule spacing between balusters if the balusters are attached directly to the stair treads.

The solution to using larger balusters is also two fold:

  • Use a custom handrail with a larger base that also accommodates the “grasping” requirement of the stair code.
  • Use a closed stringer system that will eliminate the need to attach the balusters directly to the stair treads. The images below clearly demonstrate both design features.
    The baluster size in the drawings below is 3 1/2″ at the squares – a much larger baluster than the more common 1 3/4″ balusters.



    The image below is a cross section showing the handrail with the large base which enables it to “receive” the large 3 1/2″ baluster.