The first step in trimming out a stairway is to set the newel posts. In this article, I’ll be discussing turned newel posts with a block at the top — where the handrails are cut to fit between the starting and landing newels (post-to-post). Because the newels bear the strain that goes on the rail, they need to be locked in tight. I put the newel posts in first and fit all the other trim to them. Locating newel posts is a straightforward procedure that works off the centerline of the handrail and balustrade.
I like to place the bottom newel on the second step, just above the starter step. If you put the newel on the front of the bottom tread, you end up with a very narrow stair. It looks like a cattle chute and doesn’t feel very welcoming. Also, when the newel is placed slightly up on the stairs, it’s much easier to put your hand out and step on the...
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