How to remove and install stair spindles - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 19 Old 02-09-2014, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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How to remove and install stair spindles

I have attached a picture of wooden spindles that I have in my home. I have never tackled this before. How do I go about removing them? I am wanting to replace them with wrought iron spindles. "Typically" how are those installed(attached)?
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post #2 of 19 Old 02-09-2014, 10:39 AM
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I believe they are typically doweled and glued into the stair treads and doweled and glued into the hand rail. Then again they may just be nailed in place.
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post #3 of 19 Old 02-09-2014, 11:23 AM
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The bottoms normally have a dowel into the treads. This may be turned as part of the end of the balluster or it's an insert, 3/4" into the tread, 1/4" in to the end of the balluster. They aren't always glued into the tread. Some installers might sneak a toe nail from one of the corners of the balluster into the tread. With a rail that is ploughed underneath, the top of the balluster is cut on a angle and may be nailed into the rail. They may also be nailed through the inside edge of the rail into the balluster. Fillet pieces are normally cut and inserted between the ballusters under the rail but I'm not seeing that in your small picture. Your ballusters look like they may be toe nailed into the flat area where the rail stops. The easiest way to see how your ballusters are attached is to cut one in half and wiggle it gently, looking for nails. Not everyone that installs rails and ballusters follows normal procedures. Their methods may compromise the railing if nailed from that into the balluster. Be careful or you could split away the edges of the railing.
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post #4 of 19 Old 02-09-2014, 01:21 PM
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While many installers use dowels to install balusters, in removing them, first check on the square faces for a fastener...either a nail or a screw. Some installers use square drive trim screws in piloted holes. It's like toe nailing, but using screws instead.






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post #5 of 19 Old 02-09-2014, 05:00 PM
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For what you are doing since you don't plan to re-use the balisters I would take a saw and cut them in two and just pull the pieces out. Whether it is doweled or nailed they should just come out.
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post #6 of 19 Old 02-09-2014, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
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For what you are doing since you don't plan to re-use the balisters I would take a saw and cut them in two and just pull the pieces out. Whether it is doweled or nailed they should just come out.
You would want to do the least amount of damage as possible to the tread and the rail.






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post #7 of 19 Old 02-09-2014, 05:10 PM
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You would want to do the least amount of damage as possible to the tread and the rail.








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That's what I mean. If you took a sawzall and cut the spindles in the middle they would just come out.
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post #8 of 19 Old 02-09-2014, 05:17 PM
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Quote:
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That's what I mean. If you took a sawzall and cut the spindles in the middle they would just come out.
Not if they were doweled and glued, nailed or screwed.






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post #9 of 19 Old 02-09-2014, 10:56 PM
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Best if the handrail comes off the top first-reverse order of the way it was put up. To save more trouble, it will be best if whatever you are going to replace them with covers the holes under each one. Can you post a picture of the lower end of the railing system? It would depend on how you want to mount the metal ones, and how it will start at the bottom end.

Last edited by Tom King; 02-09-2014 at 10:59 PM.
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post #10 of 19 Old 02-10-2014, 08:22 PM
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I see some stock rail and balusters on carpeted stairs. Knock firmly on one to be sure they are just nailed to the rail then do as suggested, take a Sawsall to them and pull them out.

Last edited by Keith Mathewson; 02-10-2014 at 08:24 PM.
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post #11 of 19 Old 02-10-2014, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
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Not if they were doweled and glued, nailed or screwed.








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Sure it is. That's the easiest way to demo anything is to cut it. That way you have loose parts rather than something doweled, glued or screwed between two fixed members.
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post #12 of 19 Old 02-15-2014, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Best if the handrail comes off the top first-reverse order of the way it was put up. To save more trouble, it will be best if whatever you are going to replace them with covers the holes under each one. Can you post a picture of the lower end of the railing system? It would depend on how you want to mount the metal ones, and how it will start at the bottom end.

Here a couple pics as you requested. One from the top and one from the bottom. Thanks!
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post #13 of 19 Old 02-15-2014, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
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Sure it is. That's the easiest way to demo anything is to cut it. That way you have loose parts rather than something doweled, glued or screwed between two fixed members.

After looking at the pictures, it's not real obvious how they are installed. But, if they are trim screwed, just cutting and yanking out would do some damage. I would first determine how they were installed before cutting and just pulling out. If they were just nailed, that makes it a bit easier.






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post #14 of 19 Old 02-16-2014, 01:03 AM
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After looking at the pictures, it's not real obvious how they are installed. But, if they are trim screwed, just cutting and yanking out would do some damage. I would first determine how they were installed before cutting and just pulling out. If they were just nailed, that makes it a bit easier.










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I didn't say yank them out. I said cut the spindles in two and you could tell if they were pinned or had finish screws. Without cutting it you couldn't work it back and forth to see.
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post #15 of 19 Old 02-16-2014, 10:40 AM
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I own a stair business and do baluster swap outs fairly regularly. I have yet to come across a situation where the top of the baluster has been doweled into the bottom of the handrail. That's not to say that it couldn't be done that way but in my opinion it's not likely since installation would be much more difficult than the standard way of glueing and nailing the baluster. There is normally a piece that fits in the groove in the bottom of the rail in between the balusters that gets glued and nailed too. It's called rail fillet and it is missing from any of the pictures you've supplied. As far as the base of the baluster is concerned, the most common installation method is with a dowel into the tread although cabinet man is right that it could have been toe nailed/screwed. Although this method has been quite rare in my experiences I have come across it. You have what looks like stain grade balusters though and you should be able to see evidence of this (putty filled holes) upon close inspection.

A bigger concern to me is your carpeted treads. Those balusters look like 1-3/4" balusters and the base shoe for a standard iron baluster is 1-1/4" so you would have an area around the baluster that would be missing carpet. In general I never put iron balusters on carpet. Not because it can't be done but just because in my opinion they look best and the shoe fits best on a solid flat surface.

Check out some of my custom stairs
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post #16 of 19 Old 02-19-2014, 01:32 PM
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Here a couple pics as you requested. One from the top and one from the bottom. Thanks!
From the pictures, it looks like the ballusters are nailed with brad nails to the rail (filled nail head holes are visible in the photos).

As a result, it's likely the ballusters are nailed to the treads as well, but the nail heads are not visible in the photos due to the carpet.

Easiest way to remove is probably to loosen the ends of the rail, get a scrap wood block, and tap upward on the rail. The rail should readily separate from the ballusters. Once the rail is off, the ballusters can be pulled out by hand.
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post #17 of 19 Old 02-20-2014, 10:29 PM
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I've never needed to remove or alter the handrail in order to remove balusters.

Check out some of my custom stairs
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post #18 of 19 Old 03-08-2014, 02:56 PM
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In looking at the other replies, nobody addresses how you will touch up the unstained parts after you get out the old balusters or how you will get the iron ones installed with the carpet. "Treeoflifestairs.com" does bring up some of these concerns. As Steve Neul says, if you don't plan on keeping the old balusters, cut them in half and gently wiggle them out. There might be some glue and nails in the ends, but if you gently wiggle them out, you won't cause much damage. That still leaves you with a lot of stain touch up and figuring out how to install the iron ones. If you don't have experience or tools for the job, you are in for a ride.

My advice, call "Treeoflifestairs.com" and have them install the railings.
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post #19 of 19 Old 03-09-2014, 11:52 AM
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Hahaha :). If you want to give me a call I'll help you in any way I can.

Check out some of my custom stairs
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