Recently, I completed a Craftsman-style stair and balustrade in natural oak for one of my regular contractor customers. Ready-made box newels are available in this style, but the size options are limited. The job called for a larger-than-standard starting newel, with a matching balcony newel that had to be smaller than a standard stock newel. So I decided to build from scratch.

My first thought was to install a solid square post, tack on flat inset panels and mitered corner trim, then trim it out with oak panel molding. I'd done it that way before but was bothered by all the visible nail holes in the finished newel. This time around, I wanted a method that would conceal most of the fasteners. What I came up with was a...

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