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Phase 1: Frames and Panels

Launch Slideshow

2. The clamps provide the pressure, while the headless pins keep the panels aligned.

A Contemporary Box Newel Post

Creating the tapered frames and panels

A Contemporary Box Newel Post

Creating the tapered frames and panels

  • Tapered Frames

    1. The tapered center section of the newel is made up of four frame-and-panel assemblies. I transferred the dimensions and angles for the stiles and rails from my full-scale drawing, cut them to width and length from 34-inch poplar, and joined them together with pocket screws and glue.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp7338%2Etmp_tcm96-1495180.jpg

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    1. The tapered center section of the newel is made up of four frame-and-panel assemblies. I transferred the dimensions and angles for the stiles and rails from my full-scale drawing, cut them to width and length from 34-inch poplar, and joined them together with pocket screws and glue.

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    The tapered center section of the newel is made up of four frame-and-panel assemblies. I transferred the dimensions and angles for the stiles and rails from my full-scale drawing, cut them to width and length from 3/4-inch poplar, and joined them together with pocket screws and glue.

  • Tapered Frames

    2. I then cut a 38-inch rabbet around the inside of each frame with a router to accommodate the plywood panels, which I would make from readily available 34-inch birch plywood.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp7339%2Etmp_tcm96-1495183.jpg

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    2. I then cut a 38-inch rabbet around the inside of each frame with a router to accommodate the plywood panels, which I would make from readily available 34-inch birch plywood.

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    I then cut a 3/8-inch rabbet around the inside of each frame with a router to accommodate the plywood panels, which I would make from readily available 3/4-inch birch plywood.

  • Panel Cuts

    1. To safely cut the tapered 34-inch plywood panels, I made a plywood sled for the table saw and used the drop from the first angled cut as a spacer for cutting the remaining edges.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp733A%2Etmp_tcm96-1495185.jpg

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    1. To safely cut the tapered 34-inch plywood panels, I made a plywood sled for the table saw and used the drop from the first angled cut as a spacer for cutting the remaining edges.

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    To safely cut the tapered 3/4-inch plywood panels, I made a plywood sled for the table saw and used the drop from the first angled cut as a spacer for cutting the remaining edges.

  • Panel Cuts

    2. Instead of squaring the corners of my rabbet in the back of the frame with a chisel, I clipped the corners of each plywood panel with the miter saw.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp733B%2Etmp_tcm96-1495188.jpg

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    2. Instead of squaring the corners of my rabbet in the back of the frame with a chisel, I clipped the corners of each plywood panel with the miter saw.

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    Instead of squaring the corners of my rabbet in the back of the frame with a chisel, I clipped the corners of each plywood panel with the miter saw.

  • Panel Cuts

    3. I applied yellow glue to the rabbets, dropped the panels in place, and secured them with headless pins while the glue dried.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp733C%2Etmp_tcm96-1495190.jpg

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    3. I applied yellow glue to the rabbets, dropped the panels in place, and secured them with headless pins while the glue dried.

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    I applied yellow glue to the rabbets, dropped the panels in place, and secured them with headless pins while the glue dried.

  • Panel Cuts

    4. In preparation for assembly, I ripped 34 inch from the 178-inch-wide stiles of two of the frames. I also cut a 15-degree angle on the bottom rail of each frame, using the table-saw miter gauge and the wedge-shaped spacer to hold the frame square to the blade.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp733D%2Etmp_tcm96-1495193.jpg

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    4. In preparation for assembly, I ripped 34 inch from the 178-inch-wide stiles of two of the frames. I also cut a 15-degree angle on the bottom rail of each frame, using the table-saw miter gauge and the wedge-shaped spacer to hold the frame square to the blade.

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    In preparation for assembly, I ripped 3/4 inch from the 1-7/8-inch-wide stiles of two of the frames. I also cut a 15-degree angle on the bottom rail of each frame, using the table-saw miter gauge and the wedge-shaped spacer to hold the frame square to the blade.

  • Frame and Panel Assembly

    1. I glued the four frames together, pinning them to each other with my 23-gauge headless nailer to hold the assembly in place while I set up my clamps.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp7348%2Etmp_tcm96-1495238.jpg

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    1. I glued the four frames together, pinning them to each other with my 23-gauge headless nailer to hold the assembly in place while I set up my clamps.

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    I glued the four frames together, pinning them to each other with my 23-gauge headless nailer to hold the assembly in place while I set up my clamps.

  • Frame and Panel Assembly

    2. The clamps provide the pressure, while the headless pins keep the panels aligned.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp7349%2Etmp_tcm96-1495242.jpg

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    2. The clamps provide the pressure, while the headless pins keep the panels aligned.

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    The clamps provide the pressure, while the headless pins keep the panels aligned.

  • Frame and Panel Assembly

    3. Setting the two wider frames slightly proud of the two narrower frames made it easier to flush-trim the joints with a router after the glue dried; this resulted in better-looking joints. I cleaned up the 26-inch-high assembly with a random-orbit sander and 120-grit paper.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp734A%2Etmp_tcm96-1495246.jpg

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    3. Setting the two wider frames slightly proud of the two narrower frames made it easier to flush-trim the joints with a router after the glue dried; this resulted in better-looking joints. I cleaned up the 26-inch-high assembly with a random-orbit sander and 120-grit paper.

    600

    Setting the two wider frames slightly proud of the two narrower frames made it easier to flush-trim the joints with a router after the glue dried; this resulted in better-looking joints. I cleaned up the 26-inch-high assembly with a random-orbit sander and 120-grit paper.

  • Frame and Panel Assembly

    4. While the tapered glue-up was drying, I made the four rectangular panels for the 9-inch-high upper assembly in the same way.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp734B%2Etmp_tcm96-1495250.jpg

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    4. While the tapered glue-up was drying, I made the four rectangular panels for the 9-inch-high upper assembly in the same way.

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    While the tapered glue-up was drying, I made the four rectangular panels for the 9-inch-high upper assembly in the same way.

  • Frame and Panel Assembly

    5. I again used headless pins to keep the panels aligned as I clamped them together.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp734C%2Etmp_tcm96-1495254.jpg

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    5. I again used headless pins to keep the panels aligned as I clamped them together.

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    I again used headless pins to keep the panels aligned as I clamped them together.

  • Installation

    4. Later, after I was finished installing the treads, handrail, and balusters for the landing, my painter added the finishing touches.

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp735B%2Etmp_tcm96-1495304.jpg

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    4. Later, after I was finished installing the treads, handrail, and balusters for the landing, my painter added the finishing touches.

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    Later, after I was finished installing the treads, handrail, and balusters for the landing, my painter added the finishing touches.

In some ways making the frames and panels, and assembling the four sides of the box newel post is the craftiest part of the project. Because the body of the box is tapered, you might be tempted to cut compound miters along the mating outer stiles of the panel frames. I devised a method to avoid making those tricky cuts. In the accompanying slide show you'll see how I:

  • Joined the frame members with pocket screws
  • Rabbetted the frames to accept the panels with a router bit
  • Cut the tapered panels on a table saw using a "sled" to maintain consistent angles
  • Joined the panels to the frames
  • Assembled the frame-and-panel sections
  • Trimmed the mating panel rails with a flush-cutting router bit for perfect corners