Even after 30 years of specializing in stair building, I occasionally come across a new challenge that really gets my attention. Earlier this year, one of the builders I work for asked me to recreate the Craftsman style of the stair in his own home for a new house he was building. He showed me photos of his newel post and railing components, purchased from a millwork manufacturer. However, since this new house was being built on spec, he wanted to keep the cost down and wondered what I could do about that. After reviewing the details, I felt that I could site-build the newel and baluster assemblies using relatively inexpensive components and off-the-shelf materials and still produce the desired quality and effect. While I did build the entire stair, in this article I'll focus on the newel and baluster construction.
The newel could be described as a nominal 6x6 box-type post with an open center "cage" defined by a square baluster at each corner. A plain, solid wrap topped with molding creates a beefier base profile, while flush infills close the cage at the top, crowned by a beveled cap.