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stair spindles and pocket screws

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marcros

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With a daughter rapidly approaching toddling age, I need to change our staircase a little. It currently consists of a piece of 4x2 pse as a handrail, and one between the stringer and the handrail. My thoughts are that I could remove the mid rail, and put spindles between the stringer and the handrail. On the landing, the midrail would need dropping down to the floor, and a similar exercise doing with spindles between the two. It sounds worse than it is- looks ok now, if not a bit dated, but is not kid safe!

Now, some questions:

1. Is pocket screwing as good a way as any of doing the job?

2. The stringer is obviously on an angle and spindles would be cut to suit. Does the pocket hole jig cut both pieces that are being joined, or just the one with the hole. Would I be better to make a jig that locates the pockethole jig in such a position that the screw is going in the direction of the spindle (and the hole stops in just the right place), or clamp the jig at the angle of the cut so that the screw is at (say) 45 degrees to the spindle.

3. Does anybody use the wooden plugs that you can get, or do they make their own from dowel, or just use a filler. the spindles are to be primed before installation and glossed afterwards.

4. Are the alternatives to Kreg any good. I am only after the single hole one for the moment.

5. I need about 35 spindles, and have no lathe. I can buy them for a couple of quid each, perhaps a bit less. Has anybody made any on a router table before- I don't mind doing so if it makes a nicer design. The timber will be about comparable to the cost of cheap spindles, but the labour is free because it is my own house! I have no particular design in mind, but a square section with a moulding on would be the router table option.

6. Hemlock- worth the extra if painting over them?

7. Has anybody made a stairgate? may as well investigate if I am doing the job!

Sorry for war and peace. Grateful if anybody could answer some of them, if you dont have time to answer all!

TIA
Mark
 

JakeS

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I'm by no means an expert, but a couple of thoughts:

marcros":3keaapqo said:
3. Does anybody use the wooden plugs that you can get, or do they make their own from dowel, or just use a filler. the spindles are to be primed before installation and glossed afterwards.
Do the pre-made plugs have the grain across the long face or 'through' the short dimension? I know you can get plug-cutting attachments for drills, I always assumed that the reason these existed was to avoid end-grain being visible over the plugged holes.

(That said, if you're going to fill, seal and paint it probably doesn't matter either way, if they're a good fit! Unless you already have a plug-cutter I expect dowel is cheaper.)

marcros":3keaapqo said:
6. Hemlock- worth the extra if painting over them?
I have a Hemlock newel post I bought cheap a while ago, and it's at the least a more solid wood than pine or similar, which I figure is probably the alternative. It resists nicks and dents more, although it's not the hardest wood in the world either. It's certainly nicer to work with than the average B&Q softwood. Whether you think it's worth it for that alone is up to you, and I expect depends at least part on how much you're looking at anyway!
 

lincs1963

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Hi, All of the new build properties that I am working on at present have square, stop chamfered spindles and newel posts to match.
I wouldd have thought that your easiest option would be to machine up a base rail to fit over the stair string and to accept the spindles, you could then either machine up a handrail with groove to fit the spindles into or just fix the spindles directly to your existing handrail. The ranch style handrailing that you have is no longer used as it does not conform to any safety or building regulations.
HTH, regards, Neil.
 

foxhunter

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Back to pocket screws. I have just completed a counter cabinet for my son's shop and all the joints are made with pocket screws. Although none of the pocket holes are visible from the front I have filled them with Kreg plugs.
The plugs are made with the long grain showing on top but very few actually match the grain of the timber. But then how could they? Nonetheless they do improve the finish and I know it looks better as a result.
Will I use then again or buy a plug cutter? Not sure.
 

pip1954

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plus 1 for grooved bottom over your string with spacers between the spindles easy to fit start at top you can nail first first spindle then spacer then next spindle if you make one for the top as well ,you can do the same at top makes an easy job the spacer should be under 100mm i think because of little nippers getting their heads stuck.
pip
 

marcros

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Right... back onto this project.

I was successful today in getting 3.6m base rail and handrail on eBay for the princely sum of £14. It is going to be very tight, but I think that there will just be enough. For that money, it wasn't worth machining any up. I will get some stop chamfered spindles from the same place when I collect.

My stairs are pretty similar to http://www.stairplan.co.uk/S10QL1N3D.pdf albeit handed to the drawing. Currently they are "ranch style", and the return is a short- about 1m long, section attached to that piece between the 2 top newels (which is about 200mm). When I replace the current system with the spindles and handrail, could anybody suggest what to do at the top?

Is there a standard height for handrail, and landings- the spacing is that a 100mm sphere cant pass through isnt it?
 
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