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How to install newel post (or: fixing prev. owner mistake)

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from United States of America

Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 2
Location: United States of America

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:44 pm Reply with quote

I have an 1890 Victorian with mostly original woodwork. But a previous owner removed the original (presumably) stately bottom newel post and replaced it with a skinny, boring, chain store special.

I'm getting a custom 6" (150mm) turned post made based on the top newel, but I can't figure out how I'm going to install it. I've posted some pictures to help explain my plight.

I'm not afraid of tearing into the bottom stair, because as you can see it looks like it's also not original. But I want to install the newel post in a way that the original masters would have done -- where it looks integrated with the stairs (there are examples of my idea at the URL above), as it fits over the front corner of the 2nd step, and the back corner of the 1st step, and continues all the way to the floor.

How do I do it? Does anyone have any suggestions? Or any resources/books/websites that detail how this used to be done? I've been scouring the 'net and can't find anything. This forum was the first place anywhere that I found people intelligently discussing stairbuilding issues, so I'm optimistic... please help! icon_smile.gif
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from United Kingdom

Joined: 02 Feb 2006
Posts: 21218
Location: Staffordshire,
United Kingdom
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 7:34 pm Reply with quote

i don't know if this helps, but newel posts have priority.

in other words, you are more likely to cut the stair tread, string, or riser around a newel post than you are to cut a newel around the previous three items.

newel posts are routed or motrticed to allow said items to slot in though, during a manufacturing process. that said, retro-fitting throws up all kinds of problems that normal manufacture doesn't allow for.

when fitting a new staircase and newel you have a lot more manoeuvrability and freedom to fit joinery products prior to finally securing the stair case to the structure.

i guess with a newel retro-fit it's a case of suck-it-and-see. icon_wink.gif

p.s. i like a yank who can convert to metric. 150mm=6" icon_cool.gif
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from United States of America

Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 2
Location: United States of America

PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 2:49 pm Reply with quote

Thanks for the info, noseall. I was afraid that was the answer I'd get -- "retro-fitting throws up all kinds of problems"...

One issue I have is that I can't even find any good resources that show me how one would install a newel of this size even in new construction. I bought a few books (one from Taunton Press) and just about the only thing they show is how to install a standard 3 1/2 inch post that you can buy at Home Depot.

I'd like to see an example of how someone would build a replica staircase that has the substance and quality of one built in 1900. I bought a reprint of a 1930's book that has designs, but it doesn't have quite enough detail about the construction process to be much help.

Assuming I have to notch the base of the post and connect it to the stringer from the inside, does anyone have any suggestions for good attachment methods? I'd prefer not to drill holes that you could see when it's finished. Would something like epoxy work to anchor a bolt in newel post that can then be attached to the stringer?
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from Canada

Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Posts: 1
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:49 pm Reply with quote


I may be a little late w/ a response but if you are still looking, you may want to try "Constructing Staircases, Balustrades & Landings by William P. Spence" as a source. it is mostly focused on building actual staircases but Ch.8 has a fair number of detailed drawings for installing and notching newel posts.
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