Size and type of stick
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  1. #1
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    Size and type of stick

    I'm planning to build a stair railing out of 1 -1/4" X 1/8" mild steel tube. I have a Lincoln tombstone AC welder, what size and type of stick would you recommend? Also, should I consider building it out of thicker steel for strength? The railing will not be used in a public place, so, the most people to use it at one time will only be two adults.

  2. #2
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Quote Originally Posted by drapd View Post
    I'm planning to build a stair railing out of 1 -1/4" X 1/8" mild steel tube. I have a Lincoln tombstone AC welder, what size and type of stick would you recommend? Also, should I consider building it out of thicker steel for strength? The railing will not be used in a public place, so, the most people to use it at one time will only be two adults.
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    chart on amp range i use for fillet weld joint and no gap. just use less thickness amps if you have joint gap and or butt weld
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    if weld joint overheats. sometimes better to just stop and let weld cool off. 1/8" is minimum recommended stick welding thickness unless you are a expert welder
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  3. #3
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Quote Originally Posted by drapd View Post
    I'm planning to build a stair railing out of 1 -1/4" X 1/8" mild steel tube. I have a Lincoln tombstone AC welder, what size and type of stick would you recommend? Also, should I consider building it out of thicker steel for strength? The railing will not be used in a public place, so, the most people to use it at one time will only be two adults.
    Whether or not you should use that size tubing will depend entirely on the geometry of the entire structure, of which you have not revealed anything about. Can it be made to work? Sure, as long as the design is sound. Any all-position rod can be made to work, it all depends on the skill of the operator. Just don't use a rod that is only rated for Flat/Horizontal and attempt to use it in other positions if you are not already well versed in such situations.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Most typical handrails are 1 1/2'' OD so I would go with 1 1/2'' square or round tube . What is your design ?

    As for rod 1/8'' 6013 would work or 6011 . You could use 3/32 AC 7018 too.

  5. #5
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Thanks to all that have replied. My design is a wooden set of stairs with 2"X12" stringers, just a straight set of stairs, about 12ft long. I don't have any problem building the wooden part of the stairs, I've been in the home construction trade for a very long time,about 45 yrs give or take, but now retired. I plan of using for the vertical support of the handrail the same size tube as the handrail. The vertical supports will have 4 small plates welded on the bottom of each support, 2 on each side. With a pair at the bottom edge of the stringer, and a pair at the top edge of the stringer. Each plate will have a 3/8" hole for a bolt thru the stringer. Then the top of each vertical support will be cut to match the angle of the handrail and welded to it.

  6. #6
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Grab a piece of the 1 1/4'' tube and then the 1 1/2''. You my see that the 1 1/2'' has a better feel to it , unless the users have small hands .

  7. #7
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Most railings I have run across are 14 or 16ga. I would expect 1/8" to be serious overkill in most situations, but you don't give many details.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Thanks BC1, I'm thinking the 1 1/4 tube will be best as my wife has small hands, and our grandchildren are still small, although they will grow up. We use the barn mostly just to have a shelter at a pond we use for recreation, so, there will not be many people there at all. The railing will mostly be used by two senior citizens that are not hard on things. davec, I don't think that I can weld as thin as 14 or 16 ga, that's why I asked about welding 1/8".

  9. #9
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Quote Originally Posted by drapd View Post
    Thanks BC1, I'm thinking the 1 1/4 tube will be best as my wife has small hands, and our grandchildren are still small, although they will grow up. We use the barn mostly just to have a shelter at a pond we use for recreation, so, there will not be many people there at all. The railing will mostly be used by two senior citizens that are not hard on things. davec, I don't think that I can weld as thin as 14 or 16 ga, that's why I asked about welding 1/8".
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    industrial railing usually 1-1/4" pipe about 1-5/8"od and 1-1/2" pipe about 1-7/8" od usually schedule 40 thickness or thicker. posts are usually no more than 6 feet apart
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    they usually wanted 1-1/2" pipe if railing for roof as the height was more. railing on deck only 4 feet up not so critical. often ornamental railings are on the light side and cannot take the 200 lbs load continuously in any direction safety spec.
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    railing when they get old can get brittle from welds rusting. i always make sure bottom welds are extra heavy

  10. #10
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    I typically use 3/32 rod- 7018ac for rail install. My residential rail material typically runs 16g to 1/8" thick.
    Last edited by tapwelder; 01-09-2017 at 11:22 AM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder View Post
    I typically use 3/32 rod- 7018ac for rail install. My residential rail material typically runs 16g to 1/8" thick.
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    industrial railing has i believe a osha spec or building codes. when repairing old fire escapes i was told it must hold 200 lbs continuously in any direction. if it cannot i was to fix it or make it stronger. me and 2 others spends 3 months fixing fire escapes on just one building. big industrial buildings 5 stories tall can have a lot of railings
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    nothing worse than hand rail when under 200 lb load it snaps suddenly. i always made bottom welds extra heavy.

  12. #12
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    For an AC welder, I think you would be best served by 1/8th inch 6013 rod. Its a drag rod, so it seems it would be beneficial to your level of skill (no offense), it was designed to work on AC (I am not a fan of any kind of 7018 on AC, FWIW), and it is a relatively low penetration rod, so it shouldn't blow through your material. if you develop porosity and/or worm tracks, grind it out and do it again. If the weld look aesthetically pleasing, it is probably a good weld. But please do some practice and destructively test it before you begin the actual project (cut and etch and/or informal bend testing). Just my 2 cents.
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  13. #13
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Louie1961 View Post
    For an AC welder, I think you would be best served by 1/8th inch 6013 rod. Its a drag rod, so it seems it would be beneficial to your level of skill (no offense), it was designed to work on AC (I am not a fan of any kind of 7018 on AC, FWIW), and it is a relatively low penetration rod, so it shouldn't blow through your material. if you develop porosity and/or worm tracks, grind it out and do it again. If the weld look aesthetically pleasing, it is probably a good weld. But please do some practice and destructively test it before you begin the actual project (cut and etch and/or informal bend testing). Just my 2 cents.
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    6011 has more penetration but welds will look rougher and maybe need grinding to make smooth.

  14. #14
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    1-1/4" pipe is 1-1/4" roughly inside diameter and around 1-5/8 outside diameter.
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    pipe is fairly cheap. tubing often costs more
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    railing smaller in size is more ornamental railing and is only allow if not above certain heights. you would have to check your local building codes. often if over 6 feet above the ground a new installation must meet new spec
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    old stuff often grandfathered. that is you do not have to change unless being repaired or replaced then it has to meet newer spec. again local laws or building codes have to be checked to be legal
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    some people use Kee clamps to avoid needing to weld
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    https://www.amazon.com/Kee-Klamp/pages/8425503011
    Last edited by WNY_TomB; 01-09-2017 at 12:07 PM.

  15. #15
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    3/32" e7014?
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  16. #16
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldendum View Post
    3/32" e7014?
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    bottom of handrail posts i always used 6010 more than 7018 AND 3 weld passes. big 3/8 welds
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    nothing worse than handrail post when 200 lbs of force on it and it snaps off. 3 weld passes you want where attached. you want handrail post to bend a lot and not have weld break. Thick steel beam you attach too since it is thicker you want extra amps too for penetration. or if post welded to mounting plate that bolts to something you want big welds on that too
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    the rest of handrail maybe 7018 or 6013 or 7014 for cosmetic reasons with smoother welds

  17. #17
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    You can get pipe size handrail tubing. Personally, I would use 1-1/4" pipe size handrail tube. If using square, 1.5" 12 or 11 gauge. With a AC machine, I would use 1/8" 6011. DC I would use 3/32" 7018.

  18. #18
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    6011 has more penetration but welds will look rougher and maybe need grinding to make smooth.
    True, but I am guessing that maybe he doesn't have the required skills to run 6011 yet and may blow through with it. There's definitely no one right answer. I just think 6013 will work good enough for him and probably be the easiest, IMHO.
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  19. #19
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Quote Originally Posted by WNY_TomB View Post
    .
    ... 3 weld passes. big 3/8 welds...
    3 passes on 1/8" wall tubing?
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  20. #20
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    If his 6011 was sturdy, but a little ugly, he could always make a final pass with 7014 to smooth it out. Less grinding anyway...
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  21. #21
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    3 passes on handrail would definitely get you called out and canned on most sites.
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  22. #22
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    That would be a warped screwed up mess

  23. #23
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldendum View Post
    3 passes on 1/8" wall tubing?
    My question as well. "Leg size equal to thinnest piece" is what I was always taught.
    Dave J.

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  24. #24
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Thanks guys for all the help and information. Wow! There is a world of knowledge on this site! I am definatly impressed! I didn't know that there would be so many different ways to do a handrail, and all of them would also work well. TomB, Thanks for the info about the Kee clamps, I had never heard of them, I can see where they would come in handy, but, for this job I'm gonna weld it up. There are no codes here where I live, anything goes. And you are right about my welding skills, I have had trouble in the past blowing thru with 6011 on thin material, so, I feel that 6013 will be a better rod for me in this application. Louie1961, I'm gonna go with your recommendation of 1/8 6013, as I said before about my skill level, er lack of skill level! LOL And there is no offense taken either!! And I'll practice first and then beat and bend the heck out of it and see if it holds. Thanks for the tip about the relatively low penetration of 6013 shouldn't blow thru the material as easily as 6011, that makes me feel better already.

  25. #25
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    Re: Size and type of stick

    Guys, I've got one other question on my railing project. What thickness mild steel plate should I use to weld to the sides of the square tubing so that I can bolt the tubing to my wooden stringers? Should I use the same thickness plate that the wall thickness will be on the square tubing? Thanks.

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