1. ## Fab School

So here it is

Several people asked for a post of how to fabricate a railing start to finish

So I'll show you step by step how I did these two railings, along with some pretty pictures.

Any criticism, just shut up, just kidding.

This is how I do it, I've done probably into the 1000s of linear feet, I've never counted.

This is what I was saying before. You don't need a scaled drawing, you don't even need graphpaper really, you just need a couple points of reference, I measure the top landing, starting from the house, to the top nosing. Then I measure the horizontal and vertical to the bottom nosing,

I repeat, the bottom nosing, NOT the ground,

You don't need to measure the angle, you can figure that out using a handy dandy construction calculator, or a triangle calculator online, it's way more accurate.

So then you take those references and transfer them to your table.

You can see the soapstone marks I made, denoting the top landing, and in this case it only has one step.

Connect the bottom and top nose with a line, this is good to measure to. https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/202...24e803b06d.jpg

A very important point here, a residential gaurdail needs to be 36" minimum off the walking surface, I make my panels 34" tall, and leave a 2"gap, with the thickness of the caprail it usually comes out to 36.5"

So, you can do 2 things, that white line can indicate the surface of the step, or it can indicate where you're going to place your bottom rail.

Either way, same result, if it indicates the surface of the step, then you measure up from the line 2" and clamp your bottom rail, in this case I'm using 1x1/2x1/8 channel , that's 90% of the rails I do, and 90% of the rails I see out in the world.

Now, I core drill most of my rails, I allow for 4" of post to go into the stone or concrete. So when you cut your posts, allow for that.

I leave 2" from the house to the 1st post of the railing, that's my preference.

Please don't use hollow 1x1 tubing, it rots out, always.

You guys who are seasoned fabricators can skip most of this, this is aimed at people who've never done this before, or wmat to do it a tried and tested way.

I leave 2" gap from the house to the railing, that's my preference.
Last edited by MetalMan23; 06-14-2020 at 11:27 PM.

2. ## Re: Fab School

Clamp your posts, cut your channel, in this case I didn't bother to punch them, I just welded the pickets in between the channels,

Make sure the posts are parallel, weld, sand the welds down

Your top rail of the railing needs to be parallel to the surface, and only start going down the stairs once it reaches the point DIRECTLY over the top nosing, so, if you have a post at the top of the step, your rail will have to continue level, until it reaches the point directly over the top nosing, and then angle down towards the bottom.

This is very important in order to maintain proper guardrail height going down the stairs, I've seen many many rails that are 36" on the landing, but more like 30" or 32" high on the stairs part of the rail. This is wrong. It's not to code, don't ever do that or I'll be upset.
Look at this example, not my work, it's wrong, sure it looks nice, but if the landing is at the proper height, then the stairs most certainly are not, again, please don't do this.

The top of the railing needs to measure 36" high measuring up from the nosing of the steps.

So all the rails, (in this case this railing has 3, usually they have 2) will be parallel to each other, basically all cut the same size.
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Last edited by MetalMan23; 06-14-2020 at 11:39 PM.

3. ## Re: Fab School

You'll see the spacers for the pickets, the posts and channel are 1" so the 1/2" pickets have to get raised up 1/4" to be centered https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/202...6c05244f01.jpg

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4. ## Re: Fab School

For picket spacing, get a construction calculator that can convert, to fractions, your life will be easy

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5. ## Re: Fab School

Lambs tongue time.

I measure 3.5 and 7", taper the point to the 3.5, cut, sand down sharp edges, then throw on the bender, yes it's from HF,

Bend the bottom curve first, flip over and finish the bend, centered on the 7" mark.

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6. ## Re: Fab School

Clamp on and weld,

Grind the profile in the joint going down the angle, or bend it, if you feel like it. https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/202...0646df67cd.jpghttps://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/202...41e602c2ac.jpghttps://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/202...4867742c37.jpg

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7. ## Re: Fab School

Paint, core drill, level and plumb the railing, and pour anchoring cement, good to go, happy customer.

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8. ## Re: Fab School

More tomorrow, I have another railing I'll walk you through

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9. ## Re: Fab School

Thanks for the education. What did the customer pay for this fine job?

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10. ## Re: Fab School

Hey MetalMan,
Thank you so much for this. I can’t wait for the next lesson. (I wish we had more threads like this one.)

I have built several simple residential handrails and have figured some of this by trial and error. I definitely picked up some good tips.

To clarify, you use 1” solid for the posts instead of tube? Is that because you core drill and epoxy? I don’t have a core drill so use plates with tube for posts.

Also, I thought the rail had to extend past the bottom step. It appears yours stops at the nose of the bottom step. Please comment. Also, i believe your picket spacing is more than 4”. Is that because the height off the ground is less than 30” and doesn’t have to meet that requirement?

My biggest problem is grinding the top rail molded pieces to lambs tongue or 90* cast pieces. Any tips, suggestions, or examples of how to blend better would be much appreciated. Mine never look completely seamless.

Last edited by wb4rt; 06-16-2020 at 10:34 AM.

11. ## Re: Fab School

Don't use the cast pieces, the profile never matches, with the harbor freight bender, I just showed you how to make your own Lambs tongues, way cheaper, and better looking

I'd use 1" solid no matter what, it'll never rust out,

What's happens is condensation builds up in the tube, then freezes, and bursts the tube open,

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12. ## Re: Fab School

I’ll practice on the lambs tongue. I’m sure it would look better. On a couple that needed to be done cheaper I just rounded the end of the rail cap and it looked pretty good. They were happy with it that way.

How do you do 90*? Just miter?

We have very few days of freezing weather but I’ll see about using solid next time. Would be heavier, not sure how much more \$. I have some rails about 8 years old with no problem.

I keep thinking a used core drill might be a good investment if I had more orders. What product do you use to epoxy it?

13. TJS
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## Re: Fab School

Great post. Maybe it is my phone but you lost me on the chalk lines in the first pic of your table. I cannot see the steps. Also I guess I am not understanding what the nose exactly is. Cause what you say "don't do this", it looks like you did what you said "don't do this". It looks like you started your fall or drop early. Again, maybe I don't know exactly where the end of the nose is. That large gap need something other than open air. Maybe a vine looking cutout or something.

14. ## Re: Fab School

Originally Posted by TJS
Great post. Maybe it is my phone but you lost me on the chalk lines in the first pic of your table. I cannot see the steps. Also I guess I am not understanding what the nose exactly is. Cause what you say "don't do this", it looks like you did what you said "don't do this". It looks like you started your fall or drop early. Again, maybe I don't know exactly where the end of the nose is. That large gap need something other than open air. Maybe a vine looking cutout or something.
I took a picture from the web to show an example of what not to do,

The stair nose is just the corner of the step,

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15. TJS
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## Re: Fab School

Originally Posted by MetalMan23
I took a picture from the web to show an example of what not to do,

The stair nose is just the corner of the step,

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I am referring to post #7. Is that yours. If I drop a string down from the top rail right at the "mitered" corner the string does not hit the corner edge of the step. Maybe my old eyes.

16. ## Re: Fab School

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17. TJS
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## Re: Fab School

I thought so.

18. ## Re: Fab School

The only thing I do differently is I "V" notch the top rail and "U" channels and bend them rather than cut them. This saves a lot of time and grinding. And it looks good too. I just put a small weld on the then closed "V" notch.

Sincerely,

William McCormick

19. ## Re: Fab School

I noticed one other thing I do differently. I split the railing for the lambs tongue and run a pass to rejoin it. I learned to do this from my boss Ray, when I was making rails in Queens and Brooklyn, that is how they do it there. On really nice jobs I fill the backs of the handrail as well.

Sincerely,

William McCormick

20. ## Re: Fab School

I'll split the Lambs tongue as well on nice jobs, but most of the time I just cut it,

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21. Solderer
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## Re: Fab School

Originally Posted by MetalMan23
Clamp on and weld,

Grind the profile in the joint going down the angle, or bend it, if you feel like it. https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/202...0646df67cd.jpghttps://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/202...41e602c2ac.jpghttps://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/202...4867742c37.jpg

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Nice blend on that last pic

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## Re: Fab School

This is a great thread, obviously i have an interest in handrails. I should have seen this before I proceeded, but we were trying to use avail stock and keep it simple. Anyway thought i would post and say thanks to Phil. It is comforting to see a young man display enthusiasm and a willingness to work, not so common anymore.

23. ## Re: Fab School

Originally Posted by TJS
Great post. Maybe it is my phone but you lost me on the chalk lines in the first pic of your table. I cannot see the steps. Also I guess I am not understanding what the nose exactly is. Cause what you say "don't do this", it looks like you did what you said "don't do this". It looks like you started your fall or drop early. Again, maybe I don't know exactly where the end of the nose is. That large gap need something other than open air. Maybe a vine looking cutout or something.

William McCormick

24. ## Re: Fab School

Hey Phil,

Looks like I have a railing job coming up. I want to make my own lamb’s tongue as you describe in post #5.

Could you tell me what size dies you use for each bend?

Thanks, and I hope you will continue this very interesting instruction thread!

25. ## Re: Fab School

For the pointy end I use a smaller die, like 1" or 1.5, and for the other bend I use something like a 2.5, recently I've started bending the pointy end first, and then the upper curve and it works better.

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