I love when customer send pictures of their finished staircase. The barley twisted balusters shown below were added to a stairway of a customer of mine. She really wanted as much barley twist showing as possible. As such, the square bases are short and besides the twist there is no other ornamentation. She needed pin top balusters with a 5/8″ pin to match the existing holes in the handrail. So that is what we produced. She has a website displaying her really fine art work. Check it out: http://sandrahendler.com
Designing the tapered balusters for this job was a process of working from an original image sent by the customer to what we have here. The first image below is the original sent by the home owner.
The first drawing I made was elongated to make them modern code ready. The originals were apparently too short for todays height standard.
In the second iteration, the homeowner asked me to make the balusters pin tops instead of the square top balusters. The top bead was eliminated as well. The baluster shank, though was “barrel” shaped. That is, the main part of the baluster was cylindrical with a short taper near the top.
In the final design, the balusters are strictly tapered to a one inch “pin”. Normally a 1 3/4″ pin top baluster has a 3/4″ pin top. These, however, have a 1″ pin top. The thicker 1″ pin enabled us to use two balusters per tread instead of three balusters per tread. With a ten inch deep tread we were able to maintain a maximum 4 inches between the balusters.
I saw this very nice tapered octagon newel at Historic House Parts and thought I would try to model it. I have not actually made this newel (in wood that is) but only modeled it using Trimble Sketchup. The Sketchup model is rendered using Twilight Renderer. I’ve always liked then contrast of octagon and turned parts on a newel. This one is a fine example of one. The square base with flat top was common to older style newels. The vase shaped part above the square base is especially nice, I think. This newel measures, according to the web site, only 36″ high which is somewhat short for todays stairways. I’ve elongated my model to accommodate modern codes.
So this a New Twisted Newel design I’ve been entertaining for production. An acquaintance brought a walnut 3 1/2″ wide version of this newel a number of years ago. It’s been sitting around my shop for all those years. Someone recently asked about it at which time it caught my eye again. I proceeded to make a drawing and rendering of two different widths of the same newel. Pictured below is the 3 1/2″ walnut original and a 5 1/2″ rendered version. This classic design has the squared details at the base and 1/3 up from the base. It also sports a 4 “start” 1/2″ radius bead that twists around. This is an over-the-post newel and will require a cap made to match whatever handrail the customer is using.
These red oak stair Newels were made for a customer in Tomball, TX. He is a contract tor and as such we have done a few jobs for him in Texas. The newels are our N103 series made in red oak. They measure 5 1/2″ wide by 44″ and 56″ high. They are of course over-the-post newels and will receive the handrail on top of the post. This is a fairly common design produced by some of the larger stair manufacturers. But this version is larger than the newels I’ve seen. Most manufacturers produce these in a 3 or 3 1/2″ version. I had a customer some years back that liked the newel profile but wanted a larger version than the one offered. So we made this larger 5 1/2″ version.
These Reproduction Newels were made for a customer in West Lafayette, IN. These are our standard N115‘s (5 1/2″ X 44″ version). They are modeled after an image I received a few years back by a customer of an old fashioned newel. The design proved to be popular enough that I made a 7″ and a 3 1/2″ version for which I’ve made quite a few. These particular reproduction newels will be painted and the cap will be joined to a standard 6210 handrail. The octagon bases are quite popular and are used to modify other newels we make.
These large white oak newels were made for a customer in Tennessee. I had a previous post for this particular job outlining the design process. See White Oak Reproduction Newel. The newels are shipping today – May 23 , 2016. Not shown in this post is the split newels that was also made. (the split newels will be attached to walls to join the handrail to. More often than not a simple oval or round rosette is used.)
The newels came out quite nice, I think, and should enhance the beauty of the stairway and home. They measure 7″ X 44″ and 7″ X 62″ high. The caps (four of the eight) shown below will fit the Walnut Creek Planing handrail 6710 and will be joined to the handrail fittings on site by the installers. See installing newel caps for the geometry of how to install newel caps.
Below is a rendering I made to match the image I received of the original newel
These mahogany newels were made for a customer in Virginia. They are my N108 (the larger 7″ X 44″ newel) and my N107 newel (5 1/2″ X 44″). The caps were custom made from the handrail profile supplied by the contractor.
Mahogany has been harder and harder to find and the quality has gone down. The price, however, has consistently gone up over the years. So when I ordered the mahogany for this project, I was quite surprised to have these wide and long, high quality mahogany planks delivered to my shop. They were both 17 ft long and measured 17″ and 21″ wide X 2″ thick. The two boards cost over $1100.00. They provided enough footage to make the 4 newels with quite bit left over.
The Large Tapered Octagon Newels were made for a customer in Connecticut. I don’t remember if the newels were going to be a part of the Griswold Inn or for the owners of the Griswold Inn’s personal home (visit their web site – looks like a beautiful place to visit).
These are made of poplar and will be painted. The largest measures 9″ wide X 54″ high. The others are 5 1/2″ and 4″ wide. Because there is a turned ring in the mid section of the octagon, the newels had to be made in three sections. The newel caps for these were made in Sapele, an African import similar to mahogany but browner in color.
These barley twisted alder island legs were made for a customer in the Dallas/Ft Worth area. They measure 3 1/2″ X 35 1/4″. The customer, in this case had made a rough sketch of what he wanted. The woodturners, however, in Dallas decided it was not in their best interest to make them and so the contractor asked if I could do them. Of course, they were in a big hurry. Have you ever been in a hurry?
I guess the most distinctive aspect of the legs are the large barley twist. This particular barley twist measures 3″ from “high to high”. This size is normally reserved for larger diameter turnings but the design the owner wanted was something larger than what would normally be made.