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Thread: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

  1. #26
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder View Post
    Nice rails. What is the time difference in fabrication Aluminum vs steel rails? how do you weld them? How do you treat butt joints that need to be flush welded?.... this is an issue that seems to fail in many beautifully done rail. I have done several repairs on Ally pipe rails that fail at joints.
    I spent a day just making the top rails, bending, splitting the rail to make the lamb's tongue, rolling the ends, filling the underside in to make them look solid and sanding them. That is a thin aluminum skin welded to the backside of the top rail to make them look solid.

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  2. #27
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder View Post
    Thanks. I will try bid some ally rails. I have noticed on repairs no real prep.I usually clean breaks. I was recently on site doing an install, I noticed some ally pipe rails that were installed 10 years ago. I had admired the quality of the work at the time. Now they are broken apart at several joints.
    No not if you penetrate the joints. Like I said most guys just do a cosmetic weld. You have to go slow and let both base metals mix and then add filler then you get a gnarly weld that can be a pain in the *** to remove if you put it in the wrong spot.

    Sincerely,

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    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

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  4. #28
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder View Post
    There is no rule that says the rise and run of the steps has to match the actual pitch of the step.

    How do you measure 10 foot rise steps inside a house?

    Nice rails. Compound bend, well done. Oh, you removed a similar rail. looks like water infiltration/ freeze in balusters, newel and bottom rail.
    They had already removed the center rail, all that was left was the little two top rails that I cut off and cored around and removed the pipe stub in the ground, and then I filled in the holes, and then re-cored for the new rails.


    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

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  6. #29
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by MetalMan23 View Post
    This is how you measure stairs for railings, you can use baseplate or core drill.

    My example shows a railing less than 6 ft with 2 posts, but in reality you wouldn't need the middle post, it's just for illustration purposes,

    https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/202...8c4f2b9da8.jpg


    I can't stress this enough

    You do not need a digital angle finder,

    You do not need baseplates with 1x1 tubes welded to them, all you need is a level to take the measurements

    If you take any more measurements or angles than what I have drawn, you're wasting time.
    I realize this is very basic, but not obvious to me. What is the significance of the 36" and 21" measurements. I ask because I have couple handrails to build at my house and want to lay them out properly. Thank you
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  7. #30
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by geezer View Post
    I realize this is very basic, but not obvious to me. What is the significance of the 36" and 21" measurements. I ask because I have couple handrails to build at my house and want to lay them out properly. Thank you
    If steps are at.your house, the lay the out on the steps. Using a template is the best layout tool. It is no always practical and often time consuming.

    In the sketch the numbers represent the pitch/angle of the steps. He just used 3 rises and 3 treads.

  8. #31
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by geezer View Post
    I realize this is very basic, but not obvious to me. What is the significance of the 36" and 21" measurements. I ask because I have couple handrails to build at my house and want to lay them out properly. Thank you
    The 21" represents the drop from the top of the stoop to the middle step that is going to have a baluster, upright, or vertical, mounted to it. The 42" represents the distance from the top of the stoop down to the last step where another baluster, vertical or upright will go. The 36 represents how far from the front edge of the stoop horizontally to the front of the middle step, where the baluster, upright, or vertical, will go. The same for the 72.

    I used to measure using the least amount of input myself. Then as I got older I realized that if I took all the measurements I could even figure out a bad measurement from all the other measurements in most cases. Did you ever scribble something and later not be able to read it? I have, I note things like are all the steps pretty much the same length and all about the same height. Then when I go back if I have one step that is off compared to all the others I can figure out what it was supposed to be. I measure a stoop with every measurement there is to it in under seven minutes. And I have never had to go back.


    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

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  10. #32
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick View Post
    The 21" represents the drop from the top of the stoop to the middle step that is going to have a baluster, upright, or vertical, mounted to it. The 42" represents the distance from the top of the stoop down to the last step where another baluster, vertical or upright will go. The 36 represents how far from the front edge of the stoop horizontally to the front of the middle step, where the baluster, upright, or vertical, will go. The same for the 72.

    I used to measure using the least amount of input myself. Then as I got older I realized that if I took all the measurements I could even figure out a bad measurement from all the other measurements in most cases. Did you ever scribble something and later not be able to read it? I have, I note things like are all the steps pretty much the same length and all about the same height. Then when I go back if I have one step that is off compared to all the others I can figure out what it was supposed to be. I measure a stoop with every measurement there is to it in under seven minutes. And I have never had to go back.


    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I have often viewed your railing and stairs posts, first class. MetalMan great work also. I was not sure if the numbers were a contingency for additional uprights or used otherwise. Too basic of question, i should have scratch my noodle a little longer. Thanks again for responding.
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  11. #33
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by J93Welder View Post
    Hello all, Iím ďnewĒ here. Well, new account as my old one got deleted. Anyway, I just bought a house and it has a nice deep garage that I can set my shop up in to do side work and Iím looking to get into railings for residential/commercial.

    I work in aviation now, which is repetitive and mostly JUST welding. I did do hundreds of railings before at a prior company but never measured in the field, was mostly working off CAD drawings.

    I will admit I am fairy rusty on the layout aspect, and was wondering how you guys measure and lay out for stair railing. The info is limited for what I can find. I saw one that made sense, was a guy on a Kings Metals video and he has a standard 4x4 baseplate with a small 1x1 tube welding in the middle, and he put these on the blank stair case where they would go if a railing was there and measure the points on the slope and the straight.

    But I remember doing a ton of math when I even had the railings all drawn up and I just donít want to make a mistake with a new customer. I was thinking this was a good way to measure, and then getting an digital angle finder to use on the treads and my layout should be good? Plus 36Ē height for code, no more than 4in picket spacing, etc.

    If you have any tips for layout please post it up. Or if you have any insight on how to get these kinds of jobs. I joined some neighborhood forums to advertise that Iím a welder in the area, but if you have any more tips that would be great, thanks!
    To the original posterís question:

    Since I am neither school trained nor building expensive, complex rails, on the 20+ porch railings that I have built I used a 2x4, level, and an angle finder to create a story board. Laying the board on the steps, I use a marker to mark the front edge of each step, a level to mark plumb for the posts, and angle finder to mark the angle. At my small shop I use this story board plus my field notes to layout the rails. Since my confidence needs some confirmation, I have often taken just the shell back to the job site for a test fit before going too far. Actually never had to adjust but helps my peace of mind. Also the hardest part for me is to determine the exact post height from the step/landing to the bottom rail. I have found it easier to get the shell blocked plumb and correct height off step nose on-site, then tack the posts. I expect you pros will get a laugh out of my primitive methods but it works for me. A little effort and ingenuity can compensate for CAD programs and school trained engineering.

    Anyway, my customers have all been well pleased with the results. I only wish I was able to do some of the rails pictured above!
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  12. #34
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by wb4rt View Post
    To the original posterís question:

    Since I am neither school trained nor building expensive, complex rails, on the 20+ porch railings that I have built I used a 2x4, level, and an angle finder to create a story board. Laying the board on the steps, I use a marker to mark the front edge of each step, a level to mark plumb for the posts, and angle finder to mark the angle. At my small shop I use this story board plus my field notes to layout the rails. Since my confidence needs some confirmation, I have often taken just the shell back to the job site for a test fit before going too far. Actually never had to adjust but helps my peace of mind. Also the hardest part for me is to determine the exact post height from the step/landing to the bottom rail. I have found it easier to get the shell blocked plumb and correct height off step nose on-site, then tack the posts. I expect you pros will get a laugh out of my primitive methods but it works for me. A little effort and ingenuity can compensate for CAD programs and school trained engineering.

    Anyway, my customers have all been well pleased with the results. I only wish I was able to do some of the rails pictured above!
    Yea there is no right or wrong way, it is what works best for you. Your method definitely works I used a method like that when I built my son's steps but in reverse. Since I had the measurements of the stairs from the Cadd drawing, I just went down the stringer and marked where to put the tread mounts.

    The only problem with angles is preserving the angle on some device until you get back. If you are doing two-step stoops I could probably guess at 33 to 34 degrees and be right 95 percent of the time. But when you have to do it by an angle for four or more steps it is not easy. One degree means a lot over four feet, and a little knot in the 2x4 could throw you off by more than that. If you have ever cut rafters you know that the whole process is done without angles and it is done for a reason, angles will F-you-up, maybe not today maybe not next week but when they do I will be able to hear you yell states away.

    When I build pipe rails I use a protractor from Starret, but I have exact angles from the Cadd program, and a, metal to metal, way to check them. And it still gets hairy sometimes I silently bump the protractor on something even myself and that strange yell you heard that was me haha.

    Metal master is the guy to follow if you are doing quality wrought iron rails, especially if you are making and installing two sets a day, you do not have seven minutes to measure doing that king of work. I had to measure two jobs on the way back from picking up material. I had no pencil, no tape measure, no level, I found two pieces of rolled-up cardboard put it up against the stoop and rubbed the cardboard until the stoop and steps made an impression in the cardboard. One stoop on each side of the same pieces of cardboard, haha. The things we do for metal products.

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    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

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  14. #35
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by MetalMan23 View Post
    I'll make some more drawings tomorrow to show you the fabrication aspect of it, and how to stay 36" high while transitioning down stairs.
    I realize Phil is super busy with work and building a very respectable welding truck, so I am not going to bother him, but I am just wondering if he completed any additional drawings showing the fabrication. Obviously I have a few handrails to do and the info would be value added.
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    i usually find it is easier lay out stairs on concrete floor using chalk or soapstone after confirming field measurements. not unusual for actual field dimensions to be different than the drawing
    .
    just saying its easier to draw or layout with soapstone cause its easier to erase and redo layout if needed. obviously if you got a very big bench you might prefer laying out on the bench,

  16. #37
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by WNY_TomB View Post
    i usually find it is easier lay out stairs on concrete floor using chalk or soapstone after confirming field measurements. not unusual for actual field dimensions to be different than the drawing
    .
    just saying its easier to draw or layout with soapstone cause its easier to erase and redo layout if needed. obviously if you got a very big bench you might prefer laying out on the bench,
    I cant believe i did not think of that, actually done that before on a trailer connection and it helped a ton. Thanks for taking the time to post
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  17. #38
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Got the railing in. Just have to mount the back and side pieces now.

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    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

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  19. #39
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Now my granddaughter can throw the ball up the stairs and it bounces down to her. Before it would go right or left. Haha, she loves it.

    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

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  21. #40
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by geezer View Post
    I realize Phil is super busy with work and building a very respectable welding truck, so I am not going to bother him, but I am just wondering if he completed any additional drawings showing the fabrication. Obviously I have a few handrails to do and the info would be value added.
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Thanks for sharing. Nice work.

    Any scientific calculator will convert fractions and can be purchased for a fraction on a construction calculator. That would be a proper fraction with a unit in the numerator and large denominator worth of savings.

  23. #42
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick View Post
    No not if you penetrate the joints. Like I said most guys just do a cosmetic weld. You have to go slow and let both base metals mix and then add filler then you get a gnarly weld that can be a pain in the *** to remove if you put it in the wrong spot.

    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    These are aluminum alloy gates that I made many years ago. They are like the day I put them there. The only thing I did later was I upgraded the magnetic drop-bar holder to a new magnet design I came up with. It is sweat you just pull the bar up and it locks magnetically, the two magnets do not even touch. It is a make-believe smooth operation now.

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    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

  24. #43
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick View Post
    This how I used to make them with Cadd.
    Thank you for introducing the capabilities of Cadd, frankly speaking, I did not know before about the existence of such a convenient tool!

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  26. #44
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    Re: Stair Railing Layout and Measuring

    Quote Originally Posted by GarryNickson View Post
    Thank you for introducing the capabilities of Cadd, frankly speaking, I did not know before about the existence of such a convenient tool!
    A friend actually two friends on the Cadd Forum which I used to frequent once a week and I, built the macros to do that. You can self program that CADD program to do such things rather easily with the help of the guys on the forum that make macros every day. It is remembering which commands do what and with what pitfalls that give me a hard time. That is where they are comically adept at it. I had formulas that we used to use in the cabinet shop that I learned while working full time when I was 15 years old that with the forum guys help I converted into very useful tools.

    This is one of the programs I made with the guys on the forum. When I make rought iron style rails I just get the measurements by using that program and I go down the rail and "‹" channel and just mark where they go and each space is exactly by rought iron rail standards evenly spaced. It is so much faster and causes no mistakes or headaches. I have the program output in 1/16 of an inch accuracy and it makes it very easy to just go down the rail and mark them.




    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

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