Need help calcalting miter/bevel for handrail - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
Old 10-12-2012, 09:28 AM Thread Starter
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Need help calcalting miter/bevel for handrail

Hey Everyone!

Im doing some remodeling and putting in a new handrail and having a hard time calculating the angle for the return to the wall and newel post at the top of the steps. Id like to have the handrail run parallel with the steps, obviously, but at the top/bottom I want it to take a 90 deg turn for the return to the wall and I want the top of the return to be parallel to the floor. The handrail has some design on the sides so I need to calculate the correct compound miter angles for this to have it all match up nicely - similar to that of crown molding.

Ive searched around for some calculators but havent found any that directly apply to what Im trying to accomplish. I appreciate any help!

Thanks!
-Rob
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Old 10-12-2012, 09:33 AM
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You have a problem which is solved by the mathematics for the intersection of two planes.

Take a look at this thread. The diagram was about crown molding, but it applies to intersection of any two planes.
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f9/ne...-angles-42642/
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Old 10-12-2012, 09:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your reply, Dave. Ive read through the post and the problem Im having is deciphering what I need to exclude from all the crown molding equations to get what I need - same for those angle "boxes" calculations.

That post keeps referencing a spreadsheet... can I email you at that address to get a copy?

-Rob
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:12 AM
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The spreadsheet is just an aid to make it faster to calculate the two trig formulae mentioned in the article

• X = arctan(cos(B) * tan(A/2))
• Y = arcsin(sin(B) * sin(A/2))
If you are having difficulty understanding how to use the formulae, the spreadsheet will not help. The original poster in my thread was having the same difficulty.

Tell me the angle of the handrail going up the stairs and I will advise the cut angles.
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pseudoyams View Post
Hey Everyone!

Im doing some remodeling and putting in a new handrail and having a hard time calculating the angle for the return to the wall and newel post at the top of the steps. Id like to have the handrail run parallel with the steps, obviously, but at the top/bottom I want it to take a 90 deg turn for the return to the wall and I want the top of the return to be parallel to the floor. The handrail has some design on the sides so I need to calculate the correct compound miter angles for this to have it all match up nicely - similar to that of crown molding.

Ive searched around for some calculators but havent found any that directly apply to what Im trying to accomplish. I appreciate any help!

Thanks!
-Rob

If you don't have much of a run, you could do it this way.

.
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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The handrail angle is 42 deg. Dave, I appreciate you running these numbers for me.

I have zero run at the top of the steps, and very very little at the bottom. Id like to make the return as I described before.... though, this might work as well, but if I do this then it wont match the height of the balcony railing at the top of the steps.

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Old 10-12-2012, 11:06 AM
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Cman's way eliminates the two plane issues. Works if you have room.

I will reply with the angles later. Being called for various domestic errands. Just letting you know the silence does not mean you are being ignored.
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:40 PM
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Looking at this some more, this is not the same as crown molding.

The stair is in a different plane angle than the return.

Even if I figure out the angles, the profile on the hand rail will not match.

You may need to follow C'man's solution. This will also allow the profiles to match.
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Old 10-14-2012, 11:30 PM
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I've built many set of stairs and of many configurations. Generally calculators are not needed for figuring railing angles. Just lay a straight piece of scrap (or the railing itself) on the stairs so that it touches the leading edge of the stair treads, slide it up to the newell and mark the scrap with the plumb edge of the newel. If you can't get it to the newel then just use a little level and mark the plumb line.

I do use a Construction Master pocket calculator that I keep in my nail bags. It is very useful for figuring out the rise and run and picket spacing. A good rule of thumb for a comfortable step is make the sum of one rise plus one run equals about 17-1/2" to 18".

I also use a framing square, not a speed square, and I attach stair gauges to the edges to make a very accurate layout tool. Cut one stringer, check it for fit and then use it as a pattern for the rest.

This was the last railing I built.

Bret
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:40 AM Thread Starter
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I got it done this weekend. I ended up going the route of the image I posted above. Worked out great for the zero landing that I had at the top to the post.

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Old 10-15-2012, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pseudoyams View Post
I got it done this weekend. I ended up going the route of the image I posted above. Worked out great for the zero landing that I had at the top to the post.

Post some pictures.

.
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Heres some pics...finally. Thanks again for the help.
Attached Thumbnails

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 The Following User Says Thank You to pseudoyams For This Useful Post: JimMacLachlan (12-23-2014)
Old 10-26-2012, 05:03 PM
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Thanks for the update and especially the pictures. Looks terrific. Good work.

I love when the original poster comes back to let us know how a problem / issue was resolved. It is good to close out the thread with the solution. If the thread is found in a future search it is more useful to know the outcome.
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Old 10-26-2012, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Paine
Thanks for the update and especially the pictures. Looks terrific. Good work.

I love when the original poster comes back to let us know how a problem / issue was resolved. It is good to close out the thread with the solution. If the thread is found in a future search it is more useful to know the outcome.
+1. Looks good, thought I was following this one, must have not pressed subscribe.

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Old 10-28-2012, 01:38 AM
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Old 12-22-2014, 03:43 PM
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Pseudo yams, I have a similar problem, needing a rail to connect two bannisters on a landing. Do you remember your numbers for those mitered joints?
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Old 12-22-2014, 05:48 PM
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This is an old thread, but even if it wasn't, chances are your rise may not be the same thus different angles, not all stairs have the same rise.

http://www.diychatroom.com/

BigJim

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Old 12-22-2014, 05:56 PM
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Just a suggestion, they make transition peices that will give you a smooth curve for such things.

Lacking that, you can really use any angles you want so long as they add up to 90.

If you have 2 transition joints, you could use 22.5degrees on each (22.5*4=90). you could do 15/30/30/15.

If you wanted 3 transition joints you could do 15/15,15/15,15/15
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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@Goodfencesgarden - I don't recall the exact angles, but Ill echo what BigJim and bauerbach mentioned. IIRC, my rise was something like 42 degrees. So for example, on the bottom, I cut 21deg angle on the handrail also and the first piece. Together they give 42deg. Then I had two other pieces (and also the first piece) going to the wall, for a total of 90deg. So on that first piece that I cut a 21deg angle on, on the other side I cut a 22.5deg. Two different cuts on that piece. From there on, it was just a couple more 22.5deg cut until they were all done.

Last edited by pseudoyams; 12-23-2014 at 11:10 AM. Reason: oops. wrong angles listed...
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