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Fitting the opening cap onto a newel post.

Just working on this one.

Once the joints angles have been cut into the opening cap and onto the end of the handrail that is to connect to it, the junction between cap,post and handrail may be carried out with the addition of a single dowel bolt.

Newel, top dowel.

The dowel on the top of the newel is normally 22mm 7/8″ in diameter and about 30mm 1 1/4″ in length.

The dowel is often turned with the newel post, when this is not the case you may use a section of dowel glued into the top of the post.

This dowel will be used to connect the cap and handrail to the post.

Newel cap dowel.
Newel cap dowel.

Position the cap.

To set the position for the opening cap, place the cap onto the dowel, with the “v” cut set at the correct angle for the handrail to sit with its centre line in the correct position.

To confirm this, mark the handrail centre line onto the treads or stringer capping, then hold the handrail into the “V” joint and drop a plumb line from the handrail centre line to the mark on the treads, the handrail section may be removed and the “V” in the opening cap marked onto the top of the newel post; for easy alignment confirmation while drilling.

Position the opening cap for drilling.
Position the opening cap for drilling.

Drill the cap.

With the cap set in position at the correct angle, drill a hole approxamatly 5/8″ 16mm up from the bottom of the cap and at a size suitable for the handrail bolt that is to be used.

The bolt used is a bolt that has a screw thread for timber on one end and a machine thread to take a nut and washer on the other end.

Drill bolt hole.
Drilling the bolt hole into the opening cap and newel dowel.

Screw the bolt into the cap and newel dowel.

Screw the handrail bolt into the the hole just drilled, the bolt should overhang the top of the newel by at least 1″ 25mm to allow space for the hole that will be drilled into the underside of the handrail, to take the nut and washer that holds the handrail to the cap.

The cap will not need glueing as the bolt will hold it into place, glue may be applied before the final fixing if prefered.

Screw in the handrail bolt.
Screw in the handrail bolt.

Mark the handrail for the slotted nut.

To get the position for the slotted nut, the easiest way is to set the handrail with the “V” into the “V” in the opening cap and mark the overall length of the bolt onto the underside of the handrail.

Mark position for the nut.
Mark position for the nut.

Mark the handrail centre line and drill a hole.

With the distance from the tip of the “V” to the end of the handrail bolt marked onto the underside of the handrail part, mark a indicating the centre of the handrail.

Drill a hole for the slotted nut and washer. The hole should be approximately 7/8″ 22mm Ø and about 1/4″ 6mm deeper than the handrail bolt is set into the opening cap.

The best style of drill bit is a Forstner bit, as these do not have long guide points and do not pull themselves in to fast or you could use a traditional brace and bit where you have more control over the speed.

Drill bottom hole.
Drill bottom hole.

Flatten the tip of the “V”, drill end hole.

By chiseling the point off the “V” on the handrail part, from about 1/4″ 6mm below the top surface to with about the same distance from the bottom surface and about 1/8″ 3mm deep, will have two benefits:

  1. Less pressure on the point so the joint will pull up tight.
  2. A face for the drill to sit on when drilling the end hole for the bolt.

Once this is done mark the height for the handrail bolt, this will be the distance from the bottom of the cap to centre of the bolt.

Drill a clearance hole through the end of the handrail component and through the hole already drilled in the bottom of the handrail part, by going just beyond the bottom hole will give clearance if the bolt is set to travel beyond the bottom hole, this is safer than having the bolt to short and not being able to get the nut started on the thread.

Drill end hole.
Flatten end and drill end hole.

Glue and fit the parts together.

The handrail parts can now be glued and fitted to the opening cap,

The slotted nut can be tightened by use of a square punch into one of the slots and a firm tap with a hammer.

Assemble parts.
Assemble parts and tighten.

Plug bolt hole.

With the parts glued and bolted together the last part is to plug the nut hole, make a round plug that is slightly tappered, glue the inside of the hole and the outside of the plug and squash the plug home, a piece of flat timber may be placed across the plug to save the plug being pushed in to far.

Any part of the plug that does not sit under the surface may be sanded back until flush.

The plug will be cut from cross grain and the grain aligned with the handrail grain before clamping or tapping into place.

Plug hole keeping grain in correct direction.
Plug hole keeping grain in correct direction.

The opening cap fitted to the newel.

Opening cap fitting.
The finished article.
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