As a finish carpenter, I would put stairways and curved millwork near the top of my list of most demanding tasks. Combine the two and you’ve got a real challenge: curved handrails. A millwork shop can glue up the curved rail stock, then shape the profile. But for those of us doing the job on site, the most practical method is to laminate the piece from bending rail.

The staircase shown here included a curved balcony and several sections of curved handrail. I used rail parts from Johnson Postman (800/562-3446, johnsonpostman.com), a local manufacturer and distributor of stair parts and millwork. Most of the company’s handrails are 2 1/4 inches wide, but for this project we went with a beefier profile — #6210...

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