Monday, October 21, 2013

0 Angle Anger

It's always a disappointing moment when you go to assemble pieces you spent hours measuring and cutting, only to realize they're all wrong, and you just made it way more complicated than it needed to be.  Such was the case yesterday with the upper section of stairs, and my first attempt at baluster angles.

I didn't take a whole lot of photos, on account of my anger and frustration, but let's just say the end result is excellent.

I started the day with a concept, thinking I had to work on this project baluster-by-baluster, installing them as I went. So I used the top step as a baseline, 38 degrees as my protractor setting, and a level to make sure my marks were right.  About 4 hours later I had them all installed and ready to top with a railing.  Except that when I went to put it on, it was all wrong.

Now, had this been a regular railing, I would have come to the conclusion sooner that temporarily installing the rail first, and then marking the balusters, was the way to go.  But because I had to create a straight piece with a 90 degree turn to hit the next post, I sort of felt like I had a chicken-or-egg thing going on. The good thing about this process is that it allowed me to discover that my last baluster was 38" tall, exactly the size I'd ordered, so it didn't need to be cut down, and provided a stable bottom point for me to use to re-cut the balusters.  The other good thing is that each stair has a tall and short baluster, so in the end, I only wasted 4 balusters, since the tall ones could be cut down to replace the short ones.

I had also purchased some of this same railing with a bigger valley to use as test pieces, so I was able to make a prototype of this rail before assembling the actual version.  I used a protractor and level to the angle underneath the stairs to determine the angle I'd cut the railing and all the balusters.  I cut the top of the railing at 38 degrees, and then to create the level piece at the bottom I cut those two pieces at 19 degrees each (half of 38).  Then the turn was easy, just cutting both pieces at 45 degrees each.  I attached the top rail to the post using two 1-1/2" pocket hole screws, and the bottom piece by drilling two pilot holes and attaching using two wood screws.

When it came to aligning the railing and the balusters the second time, I really thought it was screwed up again, which I thought could not be possible.  Luckily, it was just a matter of lining the balusters all up so that they were level and it popped right into place.

I was also able to cut one of the rails for the bottom section of stairs, so that I could cut those balusters tonight, and send to the stain shop (Becky) for a coat or two.

I also realized as I got the bottom posts completed, that cutting the stair nosing and flooring for that bottom step was going to be a pain - how was I going to leave an inch on the front of the stair nose to go around the front of the posts?

I decided to add one more chunk on the bottom of the posts, just on the two outsides, so that I could just cut the flooring straight across and not worry about wrapping it.  That'll be coming this week as well.


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