the miter angles. (If the newels have any trim attached, make sure the rail will not interfere with the trim at either post.) Make any necessary adjustments to the angles and elevation, and ensure the final position achieves a con- sistent rail height above all the treads. Remember to account for the thickness of the handrail, in case your rail differs in size from your template board.
Once you’re satisfied with the angles and position of the 1x2 template, transfer the measure- ments to the handrail and make the cuts on a miter saw. There is a definite top and bottom side to handrail, so don’t mix them up. The rails mount to the newels by drilling an access hole through the newel for a lag screw. The lag screw (with washer) is inserted
through the newel and exits through a second smaller hole on the opposite side where it threads into a predrilled pilot hole on the end of the rail. Use a socket with an extension to tighten the lag screw. The newel holes are cov- ered with matching wood plugs. Pro Tip: Always visually inspect the clearances of your mounting hardware before driving screws in
To determine the miter angles of the rail, we placed a 1x2 board over the treads and clamped its ends against the newels.
We marked the angle where the board intersects the face of the newel.
After cutting the board to serve as a template for the rail, we positioned it flush between posts and made final adjustments.
The miter angles are transferred to the stair rail and then cut on a miter saw.
The rail-connection screw threads into a pilot hole drilled into the end of the rail. Pro tip—Apply wood stain along the edges of the cut to help conceal the joint during assembly.