Chestnut

Staircase Railing

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I know there are some carpentry types on the forum. I have a railing that goes around our staircase and it's causing a major hang up in my plans. Megan and I have  couch that we'd both like moved into our basement. Despite much cursing, damage to popcorn ceiling, and sore muscles, we have not been able to get it in the basement. If the railing was removed it'd fit strait down. This is the biggest hurdle that has prevented me from starting my Morris Couch build that is going to match the Morris chairs i finished a year ago.

Is there an easy way to remove and reinstall the railing? In the distant future I'd like to go to hardwood floors as well which will require me to remove the railing again. I'd like to learn how these work. Does any one have a good resource that will illustrate how to accomplish this or that can explain it to me? I've searched and despite usually being able to find what i need on the internet this time I've been stumped and I've been searching off and on for the last 9 months.

Picture for clarity. Also to note the individual spindles are loose in some places my hope is that this can easily come out and go back in.

876543w245678.thumb.jpg.59cabada47c6f0fcae8691d9a89a56d3.jpg

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Too hard to say just by looking at the picture.  There are about as many way to install such a railing as there are finish carpenters.  Does the newel post at the head of the steps move, or is it pretty stiff in place?

Can you see how the handrail is fastened at each end?  Is the handrail one piece, or two piece ( with a separate part that fastens to the top of the balusters, and then fits in a groove under the handrail)?

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There usually attached using a hanger bolt... and a nut you tighten down.

And then you glue in a plug.   It's either in the newel post, or from the underside of the rail.

 

Now I need a picture of the couch.   I'm having a hard time picturing why it's such a problem.   Maybe you can take pieces off it?   I have one couch where the feet on the bottom unscrew, makes it easier to move.

 

 

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That newel post at the top of the stairs will extend down through the floor where it is secured to the framing. That's the only way to keep it from flopping back & forth with use. Major project to take out that guy. the spindles sit in a groove, top & bottom, with short filler pieces nailed and/or glued in between to keep them in place. The top rail could be fastened a number of ways, but all of them will probably involve glue. So no, I can't see it being an easy job to remove it.

If you had enough help you could lift it over the railing & lower it down to someone on the stairs below. You'd need ropes, moving blankets, and lots of beer & pizza after.

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I once saw 2 guys move an upright grand piano out of a basement with this arrangement.  Up and over. There is not enough beer and pizza for me to try that.

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38 minutes ago, drzaius said:

That newel post at the top of the stairs will extend down through the floor where it is secured to the framing. That's the only way to keep it from flopping back & forth with use. Major project to take out that guy. the spindles sit in a groove, top & bottom, with short filler pieces nailed and/or glued in between to keep them in place. The top rail could be fastened a number of ways, but all of them will probably involve glue. So no, I can't see it being an easy job to remove it.

If you had enough help you could lift it over the railing & lower it down to someone on the stairs below. You'd need ropes, moving blankets, and lots of beer & pizza after. 

Post is to my knowledge attached with a metal plate or angle brackets to the sub floor. This is my guess from feeling through the carpet.

Tried it 5 different ways.... doesn't fit.

42 minutes ago, Minnesota Steve said:

Now I need a picture of the couch.   I'm having a hard time picturing why it's such a problem.   Maybe you can take pieces off it?   I have one couch where the feet on the bottom unscrew, makes it easier to move.

Tried it with all parts that can be removed removed and the above. No go.

13 minutes ago, pkinneb said:

You don't by chance have a window in the basement you could remove might be easier than the railing. Just a thought

Yep looked at this too. All casement windows with the largest opening being 18-20". I figured it'd be more work to remove and rehang a casement window than removing the railing. Not to mention I don't have any exterior paint the color of the house and

1 hour ago, Tom King said:

Too hard to say just by looking at the picture.  There are about as many way to install such a railing as there are finish carpenters.  Does the newel post at the head of the steps move, or is it pretty stiff in place?

Can you see how the handrail is fastened at each end?  Is the handrail one piece, or two piece ( with a separate part that fastens to the top of the balusters, and then fits in a groove under the handrail)?

There is maybe a 1/4" wiggle in the end post and that's with a lot of force. I can and have walked on the top of the railing for ... well stupid reasons. I can see filled finish nail holes in the spacer pieces under the top rail and as well in the bottom spacer pieces.

This is just making me want to tear the thing out and reinstall it in a proper way that can be disassembled and reassembled if needed.... I'm thinking cherry handrail newels and balusters would look nicer anyway. :angry: I'll never be able to match the trim in this house anyway it's all of 30 years old and who knows what was applied to the oak back then to get the color.

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I would suspect the top rail is probably doweled into the post. If you can't see any plugs hiding screws, maybe take a flush cut saw and cut it loose that way. You can reattach it a number of ways from underneath the top railing using a mortised L-bracket to secure it. Once you cut the top rail loose, the spindles will probably just fall out of the bottom rail which does not have to be removed anyway.

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Pictures of the connection point of the rail to the post.

87654321.thumb.jpg.14559af01ad1e3178f3277d59c5549b7.jpg

8765432123456.thumb.jpg.6ced6c8448870d516dce5248ca41a064.jpg

And the prime offender.

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It's 28-29" from wall to front and i want to say 24" from ground to top of back rest with the feet off. It doesn't fit down the sitars width ways and if you bring it down the 24" way you can't turn the corner.... There is one last way we haven't tried but i can't get any one else to help me. Between this couch and my jointer i fear I've burned all my moving things bridges and owe a lot of favors.

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Make a strong, U shaped piece of wood that engages both sides of the top part of the handrail, and skips over the insert underneath.  Using a hydraulic jack, ease up on that top part of the handrail-same on both ends at the same time, or at least go back and forth a little at the time.  Go slow, and you may be able to ease it all the way off, without even disturbing the nailhole filler.  Once you get the top cap off of the handrail, the rest will probably become obvious.  It may need some similar help along the balustrade, as you go.

Maybe shorten the whole handrail a couple of hairs, and figure a way that you can fasten it in place so it can be taken out, and put back, any number of times in the future.

If you screw it up, then you can make a whole new handrail system, but I would try to save that one first.

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I really like the idea Tom and I'm going to give it a shot. I also want to look into one thing before i try that. There is a pretty good gap on one end and it looks like there is a hanger bolt that got mounted in the end post and goes into the railing. I'm gonna get a flashlight and see if i can maybe open the gap up a bit more somehow and identify what is in there.

If there is a hanger bolt, I was thinking about trying to pull the underside cap on each end with a small screw and a slide hammer of some sort. This way if i damage a part it's on the underside of the rail so any color matching i try and do is not going to be noticed.

If it's just nails I'll try your route.

All of the balusters are just nailed in. I went to each one and tried twisting them and they all moved a very small amount. If they were glued they would be rock solid. My comment on tossing the whole thing was frustration i really don't want to do that, not because it looks nice but more because it'd be expensive to replace and odds are would cost more than the couch i'm trying to move.

10 hours ago, K Cooper said:

I’m more interested in how and why you walked the railing ;)

I was having dreams about becoming a pirate and figured i'd need to brush up on my plank walking skills. :D

It's a good vantage point to take a picture of the whole dining/living room.

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I'm betting just nails, judging by the filled heads over finish nails on the end of the handrail cap.  With a hydraulic jack, it it doesn't move fairly easily, you will know that there is more holding it than finish nails.

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5 minutes ago, Tom King said:

I'm betting just nails, judging by the filled heads over finish nails on the end of the handrail cap.  With a hydraulic jack, it it doesn't move fairly easily, you will know that there is more holding it than finish nails.

Would there be any benefit to pulling the underside cap to give me a bearing surface that if it gets marked it won't matter? I think they are just held in with a single finish nail. Can't be that hard to pull.

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Hey Chestnut, I just want to throw this out there.  It might be wiser to sell the couch (it looks like a nice piece) and replace it with two chairs (or two love seats) which will negotiate the stairs easily.  

Remember Newton's Fourth Law: "Whatever moves into your house has to be move out"  --when you're older.  So dimantling your stair railing is not a one time job.

My home office ended up in our walkup attic.  My brother and I moved my 4' x 8' wooden desk up steep narrow steps with a U turn, but that was twenty years ago, long before we both had heart surgery.  Now I'm lookin' to sell the house and thinkin' the add is going to read:  Desk for sale, comes with free house.  Or maybe I buy a Sawzall.

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16 minutes ago, Mark J said:

Remember Newton's Fourth Law: "Whatever moves into your house has to be move out"  --when you're older.  So dimantling your stair railing is not a one time job.

That's a great line.

Chesnut have you asked any neighbors if they've had their railings removed or replaced? Or, how much are off by moving it down width wise? Could you use compress the back cushions some and hold it with the plastic wrap moving companies use?

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12 minutes ago, Mark J said:

Hey Chestnut, I just want to throw this out there.  It might be wiser to sell the couch (it looks like a nice piece) and replace it with two chairs (or two love seats) which will negotiate the stairs easily.  

Remember Newton's Fourth Law: "Whatever moves into your house has to be move out"  --when you're older.  So dimantling your stair railing is not a one time job.

My home office ended up in our walkup attic.  My brother and I moved my 4' x 8' wooden desk up steep narrow steps with a U turn, but that was twenty years ago, long before we both had heart surgery.  Now I'm lookin' to sell the house and thinkin' the add is going to read:  Desk for sale, comes with free house.  Or maybe I buy a Sawzall.

When the couch comes out it'll be in pieces. Selling it is an ok idea except that i know I'll get the "but it won't match" lecture and we bought the couch with a matching chair and loveseat as they were being discontinued. (Probably because they are too Fing big to move into tight spaces.) I don't know what the value of a used couch is but it'd probably loose my pants on that deal as well. There is nothing remarkable about the couch but it was $800 and there is no way I'd get more than $100 for it used....

3 minutes ago, legenddc said:

That's a great line.

Chesnut have you asked any neighbors if they've had their railings removed or replaced? Or, how much are off by moving it down width wise? Could you use compress the back cushions some and hold it with the plastic wrap moving companies use?

I could ask but i have my doubts on them doing something like this. Doesn't hurt to ask though. I also know that my house was a custom builder and most of the others were developers so .... odds are the construction is different anyway.

It was less the cushions and more once you get to the bottom you can't turn the corner. The plastic idea is a good one if i ever try again.  part of me is also wondering if the cheapest easiest route would be to hire a professional mover, look the other direction and just fix the drywall damage when they are done.

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46 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

it was $800 and there is no way I'd get more than $100 for it used....

Yup.  That's a cost factor when assessing the job.

47 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

part of me is also wondering if the cheapest easiest route would be to hire a professional mover, look the other direction and just fix the drywall damage when they are done.

Drywall and even studwall will be easier to repair, and less of a potential future safety issue.  Also if the professionals tell you it can't be done, then you know you're on to plan B.  

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Are you also planning on removing the handrail that's attached to the wall or did I miss something?  I'd think that's the railing that's more of an obstacle ...

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I'd try removing the piece on the underside of the rail to see if there's a bolt or something there.   That'd be the least damage.   If that ain't it... saw the couch in half.

I would have thought putting it up on end at the bottom you could turn and bring it down the last section.

Like don't do what these guys did:

 

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