Skip to main content

Setting Spindles…

In carpentry, as in life, there are often several different ways of accomplishing any given goal.  This is not one of those times.  As a custom home builder with nearly 5 decades of experience, we’ve learned that statement has no relevance when it comes to setting spindles in a handrail.  To my knowledge, there’s only one way.  And that one way involves a precise layout and execution.

With so many regulations and guidelines restricting handrails in the building code, forethought and planning are crucial when putting together any handrail.  According to the new modern code, no gap anywhere in the rail system (or stair system for that matter) can allow a 4″ spherical ball to pass through it.  With non-symmetrical newel posts and tapered spindles, that can get tricky.  Basically, there’s a lot of math involved.  I’m not going to show you all the math, cause well, that’s boring, but here’s a look at the process of setting the spindles and railing in what’s known as a ‘plowed’ rail system.

Types of Rails and Spindles

There are primarily two types of rail systems: one that accommodates wooden spindles tied into a plowed rail and another designed for metal spindles, which doesn’t involve a plow on the rail. This guide centers on the former, highlighting the installation of wood-painted spindles into a plowed rail. This technique demands a keen eye for detail and exact measurements.

Step-by-Step Installation Process

Setting the Spindles

The initial step involves precisely setting the spindles along the rail. In the video above, TC demonstrates this by marking a ¾-inch point on the rail to ensure uniformity. Once the spindles are aligned, the next phase is to place the rail on top, carefully sliding all the spindles up into the plowed section beneath the rail. This is followed by spacing out the spindles evenly and securing them in place.

Laying the Spindles

To comply with safety codes, the spacing between each spindle cannot exceed four inches. Chuck’s method involves using a template for consistent spacing, ensuring each spindle is perfectly positioned. After marking the layout with a pencil, the holes are drilled, preparing for the spindle installation. This attention to detail extends to the sturdiness of the newel posts, which are secured with multiple screws and corner brackets, providing a solid foundation for the railing.

Setting the Rail

With all spindles aligned and secured, the rail is carefully slid over them. The plowed section of the rail, specifically designed to accommodate the spindles, plays a crucial role here. Each spindle is adjusted and straightened before being locked into place, ensuring a seamless and secure fit.

Final Touches

The finishing step involves leveling the spindles and inserting a tight-fitting slot that secures each spindle further. This enhances the structural integrity of the railing and ensures a polished and professional appearance. 

Last Note on Spindle Installation

Spindle installation requires the right tools and a deep understanding of the materials and techniques. At Robbins Contracting, we’re used to the kind of meticulous planning and execution needed for these projects. 

If you’re in the market for a new home and want to see this level of attention to detail, make sure to give us a call. We build custom homes right on your own property and in various communities, like Sunset Ridge and Overland Crossing. We also have numerous custom homes available for purchase if you’re looking to move in sooner rather than later.