How to Fit Handrail Bolts
Fitting Handrail Bolts
Handrail bolts represent the more traditional method for joining together two sections of handrail. Although, to a certain extent, their use has been superseded by other methods, when properly executed handrail bolts remain an unsurpassed joining mechanism. Requiring no , they are ideal for joining a straight section of handrail to a curve at the junction of a landing or at the junction between different flights of a staircase.
Joining sections of handrail together using the bolt method requires a high degree of skill, and accuracy is essential for best results both in the marking out and cutting. Therefore this project should only be attempted if you are confident of your abilities, and this is certainly not a job for a beginner. You are unlikely to be able to find handrail bolts in your local general DIY store. These will most probably need to be bought from a specialistretailer.
Tools for the Job:
- mitre box
- tape measure & pencil
- cordless drill/driver
- 6mm (5/16in) chisel
- nail punch
- Take the two sections of handrail and, using a panel saw, cut the ends to be joined so that they are precisely square. Make the cuts in a mitre box using the right angle cut guide, then check how the ends butt together. Rest the sections on a flat surface and bring together the two ends. There should be no gaps, and if there are you will need to recut the joints until perfect.
- Establish a centreline on the flat underside of one handrail section. Draw a neat pencil mark down this line to approximately 100mm (4in) from the cut end.
- Transfer this mark from the underside onto the cut face using a square, continuing the pencil mark until you reach the top surface. Accurately measure up half the height of the handrail and mark on this point square to the guideline.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the other section of handrail, then briefly put the sections to one side. Now take the handrail bolt and both nuts onto either end, screwing them so that a couple of threads are projecting past the nuts at either end. Carefully measure the distance between the inside edge of both nuts, divide this by two and mark the dimension onto the underside of the handrail along the centreline.
- Drill into the end face of each handrail section at the centre point marked in step 3. Use a drill bit 2mm (1/16in) larger than the diameter of the bolt and 10mm (1/2in) deeper than half the overall length of the bolt.
- Use a 6mm (1/4in) chisel to cut a pocket in the underside of one of the handrail sections, into which the square nut will be dropped. Chisel out the timber at the point marked in step 4. Note that the pocket should be on the side of the line furthest from the end of the handrail. Once the pocket is complete, drop the square nut into it, allowing the bolt to poke through the hole and enter the thread.
- In the same way, cut the pocket for the round serrated nut on the other handrail section. The pocket should be slightly larger to allow the nut to turn on the bolt.
- Use a small nail punch to tighten the serrated nut so that the two halves of the handrail are pulled up tight. Do not overtighten or you may split the timber. Proving that you have been accurate, the two sections should form a perfect fit.
- Use a sanding block and abrasive paper to sand across the completed joint in order to blend any slight irregularities. Finally, fit the handrail into position on the stairs. Should the joint open up in the future, gently retighten the serrated nut.
Tips of the trade
A trick for finding the centreline of anything is to measure across at an angle until the measurement is easily divisible by two then make a pencil mark at this point. This will give the exact centre irrespective of the actual half measurement.