Posts Tagged ‘ architecture ’

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



I don’t often get a request for wooden spheres – in fact I can’t remember ever making something like this , at least not as big as these.  A contractor asked us to reproduce a number of large wooden balls to fill the “kick space ” under the receptionist desk in the reception area of a children’s clinic.  They were to be painted as seen in the original desk seen below.

Reception Ball

Reception Ball

The balls measured 11 5/8″ diameter and were turned from poplar.  Below are some of the balls during and after finish sanding:

large wooden balls

Finished Spheres

ready to ship

ready to ship


Video of turning the spheres:



Recently a contractor contacted us about replicating an old newel.  We’ve seen similar styles from the turn of the last century and before.  Apparently this particular style was popular in the 1800’s.  This newel post has an octagon base and an octagon detail above the base.   The original is in mahogany but the builder has decided to paint this one for a new home that is currently in process.  The old newel was a good bit shorter than the one rendered here.  Modern building codes require higher rail heights than those of a century back.  We have not turned this one yet but the builder has approved the rendering.  The newel cap is missing and will eventually match the handrail profile.

By the way the drawing was created in a CAD program, imported into Sketchup and rendered in a Maxwell rendering plugin designed for Sketchup.


Octagon newel

Octagon newel

Rendered Octagon Newel

Rendered Octagon Newel


The lighthouse newel for this project was similar to a newel that we made for a customer in North Carolina. This particular stairway went to a customer in South Florida. The architect wanted to match the balusters to the newel so we created a simple taper with matching beads top and bottom.

lighthouse stairs

The wood paneling on the walls is salvaged heart pine as well as the stair treads. The stair handrail, however, is mahogany. We turned the balusters and newels from poplar.

lighthouse stairs

The challenge for the installer was to “cope” the handrail fitting unto the radiused newel (not shown). Most handrails attach into a “flat” on the newel or over the top in the case of an over the post newel. This one, however, attached to the round part of the newel.

Other images of the balusters and newels can be seen here: Lighthouse newels and balusters

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

Barley twisted

These are white oak barley twisted balusters for a customer in Idaho. I am grateful that they remembered to send me pictures of the final staircase. We made the newels to match the balusters as you can see. The balusters are 2″ wide at the base. The “pins” at the top are 1 3/8″. The architect strictly wanted two balusters per tread with pin tops. The pins, as such, had to be quite large to meet the four inch rule which is required in most communities.

Barley Twisted Staircase

barley twisted newel and balusters under the volute

We just finished these large stair newels for a customer in the Chicago area.   They are crafted from cherry and measure eight inches wide at the base.   I typically turn my over the post newels 44 inches high.  The top is 5 1/2″ inches in diameter with a 3/4″ pin to attach the newel cap (also shown).

The cap has the same profile  as a 6701 handrail from L J Smith Stair Manufacturing.  The installer is responsible to cut a “pie” shaped cut from the cap and attach the hand rail fitting.

Newel Caps

Other stair newel images can be seen here in my Picassa account.

Lyptus is a very hard hardwood imported from South America that has gained some popularity in the US in the last few years.  Lyptus is a wood that is being grown on farms and harvested by some produces.  In hardness it is probably slightly harder than red oak but it seems to me to vary quite a bit in harness from one piece to another.   It is pinkish in color with a rather wild grain pattern in many pieces.   These stair newels went to an interesting stairway in Illinois.

Lyptus Newels

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.