RE-drilling stair tread for bigger balusters - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 Old 04-14-2012, 09:44 PM Thread Starter
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RE-drilling stair tread for bigger balusters

Hey guys. I have a project I am starting on next week. The customer wants to remove wroght iron ballusters and replace them with white poplar ballusters. I think I have everything worked out except...the holes in the treads that accept the balusters might be a smaller diameter than I need for the wood. They also might have epoxy in them. My question is this: if I need to re drill to a bigger size, or re drill to remove epoxy, is there a type of bit I can use? Thanks in advace.
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post #2 of 12 Old 04-14-2012, 09:50 PM
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I would use a forstner bit.

Do one thing at a time, do it well, then move on.
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post #3 of 12 Old 04-14-2012, 09:54 PM
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I would clamp a board with a predrilled hole over where you want to drill and use a forstner bit to enlarge the hole.
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post #4 of 12 Old 04-14-2012, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by farmall View Post
Hey guys. I have a project I am starting on next week. The customer wants to remove wroght iron ballusters and replace them with white poplar ballusters. I think I have everything worked out except...the holes in the treads that accept the balusters might be a smaller diameter than I need for the wood. They also might have epoxy in them. My question is this: if I need to re drill to a bigger size, or re drill to remove epoxy, is there a type of bit I can use? Thanks in advace.
If the wrought iron ballusters are epoxied in place, they may be difficult to remove. Have you removed a section? Are the treads finished hardwood? This seems to be the biggest problem to me. I would be concerned about removal without damage.

Once out, if there is epoxy left in the hole, the holes will likely be irregular and the bit will try to grab and tear. I would fill the holes level with 5 min epoxy. If the holes are deep, you may want to put some kind of backing at the bottom of the holes, something like bits of foam, cotton... as long as they seal the bottom of the hole and don't react with the epoxy. Center punch when the epoxy is almost set, or after fully hardened. Once the epoxy is set you should have no trouble drilling out the holes with a sharp standard twist bit. Drill the holes in steps with each step being larger. I suppose you could use a bradpoint also, and drill right to the finished size. My only concern here would be the spur catching on a bit of epoxy, or on an uneven surface around the hole on the tread. A forstner will dill the cleanest hole, and while it does have a center point, it is small and is guided largely by the outer rim requireing a flat consistant surface. I would be concerned that the brad, or forstener could grab. I don't think the forstener would cut that well in epoxy either.

I would strongly suggest that you work out your procedure on a similar piece of scrap wood first using you hand drill, not a drill press. Let us know, and post pictures if you can. Good luck.
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post #5 of 12 Old 04-15-2012, 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
I would clamp a board with a predrilled hole over where you want to drill and use a forstner bit to enlarge the hole.
Steve, this is a good idea, one that has had much proven success. I've also used this idea with a deep hole saw, with and without the center drill.

So here's something for the O.P. to consider: Use a sawzall with a metal blade and cut all of the ballusters off a half inch or so proud of the tread. Cut through all remaining joints and the stair rail is out of the way. Put a pipe wrench on the stubs of the balusters carefully twisting to see if the want to come out, or better yet, use Steve's idea of a board with a pilot hole clamped to the tread in combination with double sided tape to help hold the guide solidly. Next, take the drill bit out of the correctly sized deep hole saw, and simply core around the stub of the baluster. Finally using vise grips, or a small pipe wrench, give it a twist, and out comes the remaing part of the baluster. The hole that is left is the perfect size for the new wood one.
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post #6 of 12 Old 04-15-2012, 06:38 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks. I will let you all know what works.
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post #7 of 12 Old 04-15-2012, 06:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Skhool View Post
Steve, this is a good idea, one that has had much proven success. I've also used this idea with a deep hole saw, with and without the center drill.

So here's something for the O.P. to consider: Use a sawzall with a metal blade and cut all of the ballusters off a half inch or so proud of the tread. Cut through all remaining joints and the stair rail is out of the way. Put a pipe wrench on the stubs of the balusters carefully twisting to see if the want to come out, or better yet, use Steve's idea of a board with a pilot hole clamped to the tread in combination with double sided tape to help hold the guide solidly. Next, take the drill bit out of the correctly sized deep hole saw, and simply core around the stub of the baluster. Finally using vise grips, or a small pipe wrench, give it a twist, and out comes the remaing part of the baluster. The hole that is left is the perfect size for the new wood one.
The original poster said the existing balusters were metal. Could you use this technique with metal?

G
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post #8 of 12 Old 04-15-2012, 08:19 AM
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The original poster said the existing balusters were metal. Could you use this technique with metal?

G
It does seem that you could. The drill bit in the hole saw hole saw is removed and a board with the O.D. of the saw is clamped on top to guide it from moving around thus coring the wood around the cut off stub of the metal baluster. As long as the hole saw will slip over the stub and not drill/cut too large of hole for the new spindle size, you should be golden. The drill pressure would need to be light until the cut is fully started to insure the guide doesn't slip. That is why I suggested the double sided tape in addition to a clamp, and of course clean surfaces. Once the cut is started, the rim of the saw will actually guide the saw, much like a forstener bit does.

This method can also be used to cut partial holes along the edge of the stock. Try it on a piece of scrap with a full or partial hole. Just use light pressure and a medium to fast drill speed on the initial scoring and establish the cut before you start to bare down.
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post #9 of 12 Old 04-15-2012, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Old Skhool View Post
It does seem that you could. The drill bit in the hole saw hole saw is removed and a board with the O.D. of the saw is clamped on top to guide it from moving around thus coring the wood around the cut off stub of the metal baluster. As long as the hole saw will slip over the stub and not drill/cut too large of hole for the new spindle size, you should be golden. The drill pressure would need to be light until the cut is fully started to insure the guide doesn't slip. That is why I suggested the double sided tape in addition to a clamp, and of course clean surfaces. Once the cut is started, the rim of the saw will actually guide the saw, much like a forstener bit does.

This method can also be used to cut partial holes along the edge of the stock. Try it on a piece of scrap with a full or partial hole. Just use light pressure and a medium to fast drill speed on the initial scoring and establish the cut before you start to bare down.
OK. I see what you are doing. I am still not sure how he then removes the plug. I would think that the metal center would hinder using a chisel.

George
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post #10 of 12 Old 04-15-2012, 10:24 AM
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This explains how

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Skhool View Post
Steve, this is a good idea, one that has had much proven success. I've also used this idea with a deep hole saw, with and without the center drill.

So here's something for the O.P. to consider: Use a sawzall with a metal blade and cut all of the ballusters off a half inch or so proud of the tread. Cut through all remaining joints and the stair rail is out of the way. Put a pipe wrench on the stubs of the balusters carefully twisting to see if they want to come out, or better yet, use Steve's idea of a board with a pilot hole clamped to the tread in combination with double sided tape to help hold the guide solidly. Next, take the drill bit out of the correctly sized deep hole saw, and simply core (DRILL) round the stub of the baluster. Finally using vise grips, or a small pipe wrench, give it a twist, and out comes the remaing part of the baluster. The hole that is left is the perfect size for the new wood one.
Sounds like it may work to me... bill

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #11 of 12 Old 04-17-2012, 04:56 PM
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Honestly I think you guys are over thinking this task. I did a similar project where I removed the wrought iron balusters & handrail in exchange for a new handrail system with square balusters. I was able to break the epoxy with relative ease. I would cut them somewhere in the center then try to twist them by hand. About 25% of the time I would use vice grips to get a better grip to break the epoxy.
As for the holes, a forsner bit would would beautifully, otherwise a guide board clamped down in any fashion would do the trick. I think that filling the holes with epoxy is way overkill.
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post #12 of 12 Old 04-18-2012, 05:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the help guys. There was actually no epoxy in the holes. I used a piece of plywood as a drilling guide and stood on it while I redrilled the hole with a 3/4 forstner bit. It worked beautifully.
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