Creating thick posts from smaller timber

26 Feb 2005
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United Kingdom
As part of my staircase renovation project I need to end up with newel posts 120mmx120mm, no fancy flutes or chamfers.

Everywhere I look aI can get them for about £45 each for 1.5m (which is too long so wasting material) plus delivery.

However I could buy some planed timber, glue them up and plane them down to size...for example, Wickes do 69mmx69mm planed for £15 at 2.4m, a saving of £15 per post once glued up. Given that they'll be painted white I can fill and sand until it looks like 1 piece of timber. Shopping at timber merchants I ought to be able to save even more....

Is there any reason to think these would be less stable than newel posts I can buy in one piece? My labour is free so it would be a genuine saving.
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No not at all. Infact if you glue them well it will be laminated and therefore stronger and more stable than a single piece.
Have a chat with your local woodyard, and see what they charge for a 120x120 piece of wood per metre - which I suspect is what Foxhole was suggesting.
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A few things here that I think are worth a mention.

Timber from Wickes, the plastic wrapped stuff, is generally pretty awful. It's OK for some uses, but for laminations you may struggle for several reasons. It's young timber and it's fast dried in a kiln, so its unlikely you'd find two pieces suitable for gluing straight off the bat. They are most likely going to be cupped, twisted or bowed, or all three. If they arent when you buy them, give them a week to acclimitise in your home and you'll be looking at the wood equivalent of cooked spaghetti.

To get around that means planing them so that at least one face of each board is properly flat. If you know how to do that and have the tools or machine to do it no problem of course.

You will need a huge amount of clamping force to do a lamination such as this in order to get a good bond. If you dont, the bond will be poor and the wood may fail during machining, or, maybe you'll just end up with very unsightly gaps. If you have the clamps already then again, no worries. I'm not sure how long the finished piece needs to be, but for 1m, you'd probably need 6 decent sash clamps plus cauls (also require clamps) to keep it all in line. If you dont use cauls, you'll find that as you tighten the clamps, the faces will shift against each other and make a damn fine mess.

In short, if you were to ask me whether to do this, I'd say unless you've got the experience, spend the £15 and get the timber in the proper dimension from the outset, because you might end up becoming very frustrated with a lamination.

If this were for something less visible than a staircase, say, a garden post, I might say go for it, but honestly, I think you'd be opening a can of worms that just isnt worth it for £15.

Just my 2p.

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