Cutting and Installing Handrails to Fit Uneven Posts
LESLIE: Lynn in Missouri is on the line and needs some help with a handrail. How can we help you?
LYNN: I’m trying to figure out the proper procedure to align and be able to cut the proper angle for the top rail and a bottom rail between two posts.
TOM: OK. So, are the posts level? Are they straight?
LYNN: Well, no, not exactly. See, what it is is we took the old, wooden stuff off and we’re replacing it with vinyl. And so, basically, some of the posts are kind of warped a little here, a little there.
TOM: Alright. So, here’s the way you do this. If the posts were straight, it would be a lot easier because, essentially, what you would do is you would lay the railing on the stairs, put a level – vertical level – up against it and once it’s absolutely straight, use that to determine the cut line. Because that will be, essentially, a vertical cut.
Now, if the posts are not level – they’re out of level – what I would do is I would take the railing and I would clamp it any way I could to the side of the posts, even if it’s a bit sloppy, just so it’s held approximately in the position that you want and against the side of the posts with some big – maybe wood Jorgensen clamps or bar clamps or something like that.
And then you can scribe, from the post to the rail, with a pencil that exact cut. You know, you hold the pencil – say, a carpenter’s pencil – flat on the post and then you just basically drag it against the rail. And then add a little bit of extra space, maybe make it a ¼-inch bigger than that. Cut it, put it in place, see how the cut looks. You can adjust if you have to trim it a little bit – I presume you’re using a power miter box – and then you’ll kind of dial it in. But that’s the way to do it, OK?
LYNN: OK. Thank you very much.