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Historic Preservation - Technical Procedures

Spectitle:

Repairing A Wobbly Wood Handrail

Procedure code:

0643007R

Source:

Hspg Prepared For Nps - Sero

Division:

Wood And Plastics

Section:

Stairwork & Handrails

Last Modified:

11/05/2014

Details:

Repairing A Wobbly Wood Handrail



REPAIRING A WOBBLY WOOD HANDRAIL


PART 1---GENERAL

1.01 SUMMARY

    A.   This procedure includes guidance on resecuring a loose
         wood handrail.

    B.   See 01100-07-S for general project guidelines to be
         reviewed along with this procedure.  These guidelines
         cover the following sections:

         1.   Safety Precautions

         2.   Historic Structures Precautions

         3.   Submittals

         4.   Quality Assurance

         5.   Delivery, Storage and Handling

         6.   Project/Site Conditions

         7.   Sequencing and Scheduling

         8.   General Protection (Surface and Surrounding)

         These guidelines should be reviewed prior to performing
         this procedure and should be followed, when applicable,
         along with recommendations from the Regional Historic
         Preservation Officer (RHPO).

1.02 DEFINITIONS

    A.   The stair balustrade is composed of the handrail and the
         balusters. The handrail usually connected to the newel
         post with a rail bolt and star nut.

    B.   In an open string stair, the outer stringer is cut to
         reveal the stepping of the stairs. The balusters are
         dovetailed into the treads and the handrail is bored to
         receive the balusters.  

    C.   In a closed string stair, the treads and risers connect
         to the stringer from one side. The balusters are fit into
         a groove in the top of the stringer and the bottom of the
         handrail and then toenailed in place.  


PART  2---PRODUCTS

2.01 MATERIALS

    A.   Replacement stock for new dovetail (if needed)

    B.   Wood shims

    C.   Wood spacers cut to fit between balusters

    D.   Wood glue

    E.   Finish nails

2.02 EQUIPMENT

    A.   Pry bar

    B.   Claw hammer

    C.   Wood driving block

    D.   Sandpaper

    E.   Chisel, or solvents to remove old glue and varnish

    F.   Dovetail saw

    G.   Dovetail plane


PART 3---EXECUTION

3.01 ERECTION, INSTALLATION, APPLICATION

    A.   For a loose balustrade in open string stair:  

         NOTE:  IN THIS TYPE OF STAIR CONSTRUCTION, THE BALUSTER
         IS USUALLY DOVETAILED IN PLACE.  A DOVETAIL IS A SPLAYED
         TENON, SHAPED LIKE A DOVE'S TAIL - BROADER AT ONE END.

         1.   Pry off return nosing and cove moulding from tread.

         2.   Remove any visible nails holding the baluster in
              place.

         3.   Shim as required between the tread and baluster to
              tighten connection.

         4.   If shims don't work, ease the baluster out of
              position and remove all old glue and varnish from
              the surfaces of the connection.  

         5.   Glue the surfaces of the connection and replace
              baluster.  Drive a single nail into the dovetail to
              secure.  Toenail baluster into handrail.

         6.   If dovetail is open or split, make a new dovetail
              to fit opening and attach to baluster with a glue-soaked dowel.

              a.   Using a dovetail saw, cut a piece of wood in
                   the dovetail shape to fit securely in the
                   dovetailed mortise of the tread.

              b.   Drill a small hole in the bottom of the
                   baluster and in the dovetail.

              c.   Pour wood glue into hole so that it is half
                   full.  Insert dowel into the dovetail and
                   allow to dry.

              d.   Pour wood glue into hole so that it is half
                   full.

              e.   Connect baluster and new dovetail by inserting
                   dowel into glue-filled end of baluster.

              f.   Wipe excess glue from the surface using a
                   clean cloth and allow to dry.

              g.   Reset baluster in between tread and nail.
                   Drive a single nail into the dovetail to
                   secure.  Toenail baluster into handrail.

         7.   After baluster is securely in position, replace
              return and cove moulding.  For guidance on
              silencing a squeaky stair tread, see 06430-03-R.

    B.   Loose baluster on a closed string stair:  

         NOTE:  INDIVIDUAL BALUSTERS ARE USUALLY NAILED TO GROOVE
         IN STRINGER AND HANDRAIL, AND ADDITIONALLY SECURED BY
         SPACERS THAT FIT BETWEEN THE BALUSTERS IN THE BALUSTER
         GROOVE.

         1.   Remove and replace spacers.

         -OR-

         2.   Drive wood shim between baluster and closed
              stringer with a hammer and driving block.

         -OR-

         3.   Carefully toenail through baluster into stringer
              and/or handrail.  

                         END OF SECTION
 


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