The author draws a full-scale triangle to match the rise and run of the stair he's building.
The author draws a full-scale triangle to match the rise and run of the stair he's building.

When I was learning the basics of building a proper staircase, I found rail heights to be one of the hardest concepts to master. Not only do rails have to be properly set to make the post heights, baluster lengths, and rail fittings work well together, but they also have to fall within certain parameters to meet building codes.

Being the visual learner that I am, I eventually developed a system that enabled me to work it all out on paper or a scrap of melamine beforehand, so that I could see how well a certain rail height would work with my baluster lengths and placement relative to the rise and run of a particular stair. This system has become affectionately known...

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