Thursday, May 8, 2014

How to build a custom newel post

It's time for Stage 2 of our Refinished Stairwell project. Yesterday, we shared How to Install Stair Treads & Risers in quite a bit of detail. Fun stuff, I know. Today, we're moving onto how to build a custom newel post.

How to DIY a Custom Newel Post

Since our stairwell is a bit nontraditional, Justin decided to show off some more build a custom newel post so it would look as nice as possible.

Before we jump into the How To portion of this post, let's level set with some vocabulary. Justin was a cabinet maker for a few years, so he learned his tricks of the trade during that time. So the vocab lesson for today is rails, stiles and panels.

Now that we've all learned something new today (myself included), let's get started.

Step one was to cut the stiles and rail pieces of each side of the newel post. Starting with the rail piece, Justin cut a tenon (aka. the nobby thing at the end) on his table saw. The tenon's will be used to connect with the stile pieces.

For the rail & stiles we used pine.

Cutting Stiles for Newel Post

For the rail pieces, using his table saw, Justin cut a dado (the groove along the length of the board), wide enough for the tenon and panel to slide into (1/4").

Dadoing the Stiles for a Custom Newel Post

Here's a quick snapshot to show how the rail and stiles should fit together.

Framing a Custom Newel Post

Then he cut the panel to size for the height of our newel post. We chose to use MDF because it paints better than wood, and is pretty cost efficient.

Cutting the Panel for the Custom Newel Post

He then rabbeted (aka. the edging you see around the piece) the panel out so it fits snugly in the groove in the stiles and rails. Be sure to only rabbet out the back side of the panel.

Note: You could also use 1/4" MDF and skip this step entirely. Our lumber store only carried 1/2" MDF, so we had to thin the edges down to fit.

Rabbeting the Panel for a Custom Newel Post

Place space balls into the dado to keep the panel centered and snug over time.

Placing Space Balls in the Dado

Then glue together all the pieces! Taking your panel, glue and secure your Stiles in place, then your Rails. Clamp tight and use 5/8" brad nails to secure.

Building the Frame & Panel for Custom Newel Post

Taking the panels you've just built,  attach them to (in our situation) the wall. Taking each panel, glue and nail in place using wood glue and 1-1/4" brad nails.

Installing Custom Newel Post

And here's how our stairwell looks with Stage 2 complete. It doesn't look like much yet, but next week we'll be sharing the next stage for this stairwell. painting, trim, the handrail and bannisters, and boy does it look good! Can't wait to share!

How to Build a Custom Newel Post

Want to see all of other remodel projects? Check out our remodel directory.

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  1. Ooo, never saw those little balls to put in the dado before! Glad you shared those. Also, I'm jealous of your table saw!

  2. Wow! This is simply gorgeous! Your home is turning out so beautiful!!! :)
    “hugs” Crystelle
    Crystelle Boutique<

  3. This is awesome! We have an ugly metal rail with tulips!? we just sprayed black for now... would love to do this in the future! Bookmarking for later :)