Surrey Carpentry

Professional Carpentry & Joinery Service

June 20th, 2009 by admin
Simon Carey - Carpenter & Joiner

Simon Carey - Carpenter & Joiner

Welcome to the Surrey Carpentry website.


For whatever kind of carpentry or joinery work you’re interested in, please click the categories to the right and browse through the work we have done in the past.  Please also feel free to leave a comment or two.

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch to talk about what we can do for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch

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Built-in Cabin Bed with Drawers, Guildford, Surrey

Built-in Childrens Cabin Bed with Drawers, Guildford, Surrey

Built-in Childrens Cabin Bed with Drawers, Guildford, Surrey

This cabin bed was built to replace an existing one that could not be positioned under the window illustrated because of it’s size.

With the cabin bed being under the window, the space in the room was put to much better use, and good use of space was also achieved by incorporating drawers, cupboards and a slide-out bookcase into the cabin bed itself.

Positioning the batons

Positioning the batons

Positioning the batons

Positioning the batons

The initial framework for the drawers is set out

The initial framework for the drawers is set out

First of all, the batons that will support the built-in cabin bed are fixed to the wall. Once these are in place, the main slat rail can be positioned between the two walls at either end of the bed. With this in place, the framework for the drawers can be set out and placed. It is much easier to build the drawer carcass first of all, rather than later on when all the slats are fixed in place.

Drawers are fitted into the carcass

Drawers are fitted into the carcass

The slats, front and sides of the bed are positioned

The slats, front and sides of the bed are positioned

A small ladder will be fixed to the sliding bookcase

A small ladder will be fixed to the sliding bookcase

With the drawer carcass in place, the drawers could then be fitted using 450mm ball-bearing telescopic runners.

Next were the ends of the bed, which were fixed to the batons initially set out, before fitting the front of the bed into place. This had a cut out section to allow the user of the bed easy access. Below the cut-out was to be a small ladder made of pine which was attached to a small bookcase on castor’s that was able to roll in and out of  a compartment under the cabin bed. This worked well as good use of space as well as adding a little novelty!

The small bookcase and ladder on castors

The small bookcase and ladder on castors

The cupboard (or hiding place!)

The cupboard (or hiding place!)

The drawers next to the ladder

The drawers next to the ladder

Cabin beds… a great solution to space saving for grown ups, a great space station for kids!… or ship… or hideout… or cave…  :)

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Built-in Fitted Bookcase and Media Centre

Built-in Fitted Bookcase and Media Centre

Built-in Fitted Bookcase and Media Centre, Godalming, Surrey

This job was a real pleasure to do.

The customer had nearly finished the build of the house, which used to be a bungalow,  now transformed into a superb, modern open-plan dwelling, and this MDF and softwood floor-to-ceiling Audio/TV cabinet was one of the last items to be completed before the family moved in.

As you can see in the picture to the left, the cabinet has a multitude of compartments, all measured and designed by the customer to fit around the objects and equipment they were intending to place in it… can you guess where the quite substantial TV will be going?!

Other than the TV, the media centre will accommodate an array of equipment including speakers, amps, sub-woofer, DVD or blue ray player, and perhaps some books and a nice lamp on one of the curved shelves at the end :)

Batons are fixed to the wall

Batons are fixed to the wall

The curved base goes down

The curved base goes down

The curved base goes down

The curved base goes down

After marking out on the wall where all the shelves will go, the batons that will hold them in place are fixed to the wall.

One of the customers requirements for this job was that no batons were to be seen, because they wanted the shelving to appear as if it was floating. This was achieved by using 25mm baton, and 50mm thick shelving, into which 25mm grooves were centrally cut along the relevant edges, allowing the shelf to be slotted over the baton, therefore concealing it.

Once the batons were on the wall, the next thing was to lay the base of the unit onto the floor, carefully working out the radius of the curved end of the unit, which was to be projected upwards to the ceiling and plumb up perfectly with all the other curves of that end of the built-in media centre.

The top of the unit is fixed to the ceiling

The top of the unit is fixed to the ceiling

Bottom and top fixed in place

Bottom and top fixed in place

Bottom and top fixed in place with laser accuracy

Bottom and top fixed in place with laser accuracy

Next, the top of the unit was fixed to the ceiling, using a laser level to achieve plumb accurately.

Building the shelving up from the base

Building the shelving up from the base

Shelving grooved over the concealed batons

Shelving grooved over the concealed batons

Shelving fixed to the wall with concealed baton

Shelving fixed to the wall with concealed baton

The Media Centre starts to take shape

The Media Centre starts to take shape

All the curved ends are now cut and fitted

All the curved ends are now cut and fitted

Shelving now completed, and softwood lipping is attached

Shelving now completed, and softwood lipping is attached

With the top and base of the Media Centre now in place, it was time to start filling in between with the shelving.

This was fairly laborious, as each shelf and each upright was formed of 25mm MDF laminated together to make 50mm thick pieces, which then had to be individually scribed to the wall. Once each piece was scribed, it then needed to be rebated to slot over the batons that would support it.

In addition to this, a further four pieces would need the curve cut from the end of the shelf, which needed to be absolutely plumb with the floor and ceiling curves.

Once this was all done, the next stage was to begin fixing on the softwood lipping to the front edges of the unit. This would conceal the unattractive MDF edge, and create a better surface to be decorated. This is when the Media Centre really started to look impressive!

Softwood lipping being attached

Softwood lipping being attached

Lipping slotted to allow softwood to curve

Lipping slotted to allow softwood to curve

Lipping complete, Media Centre ready to go!

Lipping complete, Media Centre ready to go!

Getting the solid pine lipping to flex around the curves of the unit was achieved by cutting slots into the back of the lipping, leaving 3mm uncut on the face side. This allowed the timber to flex easily, and the slots would be filled prior to decoration.

Floor to ceiling Media Centre

Floor to ceiling Media Centre

Built-in Media Centre, end view

Built-in Media Centre, end view

Something that is really pleasing about this job is that because it will be used for TV, movies and music, it will quite often be the centre of attention, and I really think it looks the part! :)

Built-in Fitted Bookcase and Media Centre, Godalming, Surrey

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February 22nd, 2011 by admin
Built in Fitted Wardrobe, Guildford, Surrey

Built in Fitted Wardrobe, Guildford, Surrey

Built in Fitted Wardrobe, Guildford, Surrey

This was a softwood (pine) and MDF floor to ceiling wardrobe with two sliding doors.

Inside was a single shelf, 1.8 metres high, with hanging space below, divided into two. The central divider gave the shelf strength and stopped it sagging over time.

The full height sliding doors on this fitted wardrobe were plain MDF, but some pleasant detail was added by fixing rectangles of small beading to them.

There is a pelmet at the top of the wardrobe to conceal the sliding door runners, whereas the sliding doors themselves are simply scribed to the wall and the skirting.

There was coving around the ceiling as well, but instead of cutting it away to make space for the wardrobe, I just scribed the timber around it. This way, if the wardrobe is ever taken out in the future, there won’t be any nasty holes to be patched up in either the skirting or the coving.

Batons fitted for shelves and divider

Batons fitted for shelves and divider

The divider is fitted

The divider is fitted

The shelf is fitted onto the divider, levelled by laser

The shelf is fitted onto the divider, levelled by laser

Marking out is always first, and then the batons are fixed to the wall, to which the MDF shelf and divider are fixed.

This is done using a laser level, a great tool to have!

The sliding doors are cut and fitted

The sliding doors are cut and fitted

Finally, the rectangles of softwood beading are fixed to the sliding doors

Finally, the rectangles of softwood beading are fixed to the sliding doors

After a great deal of attention to getting the top and bottom tracks of the sliding doors level and parallel, the pelmet can be fixed on to conceal the top track, and the wardrobe doors can be cut, scribed and hung.

Then finally the plain doors can be smartened up by fixing rectangles of beading to them.

A nice job, and a great use of space! :)

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February 22nd, 2011 by admin
Built in Fitted Wardrobe, Woking, Surrey

Built in Fitted Wardrobe, Woking, Surrey

Built in Fitted Wardrobe, Woking, Surrey

This job was for a customer who had just moved into the house, but didn’t have room for a wardrobe that had hinged doors, and needed a lot of storage space for clothes.

In this case the solution was to use sliding doors, with hinged cupboards above. They were to be painted, so it made sense to save money and use cheap materials like softwood and MDF.

As you can see in the picture to the left, this wardrobe has three sliding doors, with six hinged doors above them. It was 2.8 metres in total length. The large blank sliding doors were brought into proportion by fixing rectangles of bead to them, giving the effect of smaller doors matching the ones above.

Shelving and first stage of framework

Shelving and first stage of framework

The upper doors are fitted

The upper doors are fitted

The sliding doors are fitted and the beading is fixed to all doors

The sliding doors are fitted and the beading is fixed to all doors

First of all, was to mark out where the shelving was to be placed. These were for folded items such as shirts or jumpers (blokes stuff!) After that, the sides of the wardrobe needed to be scribed to the wall. This can be fairly time consuming if the house is old, which this one was! The walls were all over the place!

Once the wardrobe sides were scribed they were fixed to the wall using softwood baton. The shelves could now be cut and fitted into place including the main shelf along the total length to which the sliding door gear would fixed. A runner was then fitted directly below the top track of  the sliding door, to which the bottom track would be fixed. These needed to be absolutely horizontally parallel.

The upper doors were then fitted using cabinet hinges, and adjusted accordingly to even up the gaps between them.

The hanging rail was fitted next, which ran the entire length of the wardrobe, and was safely supported at intervals using brackets fixed to the shelf above. No-one like dresses in a mess on the floor!

Last of all, the sliding doors were cut and fitted, making sure there were the correct overlaps and stops, before the beading was then pinned on. With the beading pinned on, this fitted wardrobe really came together well.

A built-in fitted wardrobe is one of the best ways to use space in a bedroom, every last centimetre is put to good use. And there is the added bonus of not having to dust the top of them all the time! :)

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Bespoke Pine Winding Open-tread staircase - Guildford, Surrey

Bespoke Pine Winding Open-tread Staircase - Guildford, Surrey

Bespoke Joinery – Pine Winding Open-tread Staircase – Guildford, Surrey

Staircases are always a pleasure, and even more so with this one.

There was a great deal of work involved but the end result paid off.

The open treads of the staircase and the stop-chamfered spindles work beautifully together with the dual pitches and the angles of the winding treads.

To conform with staircase regulations, in particular the one about not being allowed to pass a 99mm sphere through the staircase at any point, the 99mm sphere representing a baby’s head, each tread although “open” had to have a stub riser beneath it to bring the gaps in the staircase down to 98mm.

Gluing pine treads together

Gluing pine treads together

Gluing pine treads together

Gluing pine treads together

Routing tenons and tread housings

Routing tenons and tread housings

After setting out the staircase on a sheet of MDF, the first thing to do was glue up all the pine treads, as they were larger than timber that could be supplied, and while they were clamped and drying,  the next thing was to mark out the strings (sides of the staircase), and route the housings for the treads.

Newel housings and mortices

Newel housings and mortices

Cutting winding treads to size

Cutting winding treads to size

Checking sizes of winding treads on the drawing

Checking sizes of winding treads on the drawing

While the router was set up, I also routed the housings and mortices into the newel posts.

Next was to cut the winding treads to size, and check them on the drawing.

The assembled the risers and treads

The assembled the risers and treads

Assembling the main flight of the staircase

Assembling the main flight of the staircase

Main flight assembled including 3rd winding tread

Main flight assembled including 3rd winding tread

Pictured above are the assembled treads and risers. There was quite a bit of work to do to get them to this stage, such as plane off excess glue, sand them flat, route the grooves, rebates, round-overs and , as well as fix the risers into the treads.

Once this was done, assembly of the main flight of stairs could begin, as seen above.

Main flight assembled including 3rd winding tread

Main flight assembled including 3rd winding tread

The finished staircase, ready for fitting

The finished staircase, ready for fitting

As well as  the main flight of the staircase, there were all the other components to be done including the handrails, baserails, stop-chamfered spindles, apron nosing and draw-bore pegs to fix the mortice and tenon joints together. Once these were all done, making the staircase was complete, ready for stage two, the fitting of the staircase.

Building the stairwell platform

Building the stairwell platform

Building the stairwell platform

Building the stairwell platform

Because of the layout of the stairwell, which used to be the entrance to the house, a platform which was essentially the first tread of the staircase had to be built before installing the new pine open-tread staircase on top of it. The space where the windows are in the images to left would eventually become a small, rarely used “nook”

The main flight is offered into place

The main flight is offered into place

The main flight secured to the trimmer joist

The main flight secured to the trimmer joist

The main flight in position and on its platform

The main flight in position and on its platform

Once the platform was complete, the main flight of the staircase could be lifted into position, secured to the trimmer joist on the first floor, and have it’s newel posts fixed on, giving it “Legs to stand on”

Winding section, handrail and spindles now fitted

Winding section, handrail and spindles now fitted

Mitred handrail detail to get over (or under!) a low window sill problem

Mitred handrail detail to get over (or under!) a low window sill problem

Winding section and first floor balustrade handrail and spindles now fitted

Winding section and first floor balustrade handrail and spindles now fitted

With the main flight in place, all the other components could now be fixed on. These were the winding section, the handrails, baserails, nosing, aprons, and spindles.

Then it was time to stand back and enjoy the result! :)

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The converted office, with new worktops and bookcases

The converted office, with new worktops and bookcases

Home Office Conversion – Worktops, Bookcases and Filing cabinet, Shalford, Surrey

Its always nice to bring new life to a room that when you first enter it, has a strange damp smell, no electricity, and very little appeal whatsoever. This was exactly the case when we converted a damp, dank and dark old scullery in a grade 2 listed building in Shalford, Surrey into a well spaced out, attractive and useable home office for the family.

The room was already equipped with worktops made of slate and granite, and planning control stipulated that they must remain where they were, and not be touched, even though they had seen better days.

To soften and warm up the room ready for office use, the solution was to clad the existing stone worktops in 25mm Oak-faced MDF, which would be much more pleasant for day to day use.

In addition to this, we installed bookcases with adjustable shelving throughout the room, maximising the useable storage space, and also a bespoke fitted filing drawer cabinet system, described in detail HERE.

Main existing slate worktop

Main existing slate worktop

Other existing slat worktops

Other existing slate worktops

Other existing slate worktops

Other existing slate worktops

First "L" shaped section of oak-faced MDF being fitted

First "L" shaped section of oak-faced MDF worktop being fitted

First "L" shaped section of oak-faced MDF being fitted

First "L" shaped section of oak-faced MDF worktop being fitted

First "L" shaped section of oak-faced MDF worktop being fitted

First "L" shaped section of oak-faced MDF worktop being fitted

First of all, we got the oak-faced MDF worktops fitted.

To do this we had to establish where the highest point of the unlevel existing slate worktops was, and use that as the datum level to which the new oak MDF worktops would be set. The necessary packers were cut and placed, and the new worktops were then cut and scribed into position. The first worktop was the main “L” shaped one, which was made of three peices, all biscuit jointed, glued, and wound together with worktop connectors, seen above.

"L" shaped worktop fitted, and being wedged down

"L" shaped worktop fitted, and being wedged down

"L" shaped worktop fitted

"L" shaped worktop fitted

Worktops 3 & 4, 3 being the top of the filing cabinet, and 4 on packers, above existing slate worktop

Worktops 3 & 4, 3 being the top of the filing cabinet, and 4 on packers, above existing slate worktop

Worktops 2, 3 and 4, came after this, in clockwise fashion. Worktop 2 was essentially the base of one of the alcove bookcases, worktop 3 was the top of the filing cabinet, and worktop 4, pictured above, went onto the last of the slate surfaces, and had to be packed up by approximately 50mm to bring it to the same level as the rest of the worktops.

Fitted bookcases

Fitted bookcases

Electricity meter cabinet

Electricity meter cabinet

Electricity meter cabinet

Electricity meter cabinet

Once all the worktops were fitted, we attached solid oak lipping to the front edge of the oak-faced mdf to conceal both the mdf core and the stone worktops beneath. Of course the lipping on worktop 4 had to be much larger that the rest of the worktops due to the extra 50mm packers between the stone and the new worktop.

The next stage was to fit the bookcases onto the new worktops. These were done in plain MDF. We scribed the sides into place and fixed a fluted trim to the front of them, which would conceal the gaps between the adjustable shelves and the sides of the bookcase.

Once they were cut to size and lipped with softwood for a better finish, the 25mm thick mdf adjustable shelves were placed on “Tonk” inset shelving strip, which allows increments of about 15mm in adjustment, so they are very versatile.

We also housed the electricity meter below the main worktop in a small cabinet to conceal it, this was also done in oak-faced MDF.

The finished oak worktop bookcase

The finished oak worktop and bookcase

Bookcase above worktop 3 and filing cabinet

Bookcase above worktop 3 and filing cabinet

Bookcase above "L" shaped main worktop

Bookcase above "L" shaped main worktop

Bookcase on worktop 4, with its solid oak cornice, and side fluting

Bookcase on worktop 4, with its solid oak cornice, and side fluting

Finally the solid oak cornice was fitted to the bookcase above worktop 4, and it really put the finishing touch to the job. The reason you now see all the books and items already on the shelves is that we planned for the painters to come and paint the plain MDF parts of the job before we came back to fit the cornice, which took a little longer to get hold of from Mayford Joinery, Mayford, as they were quite busy at the time.

In this picture, you can also see the routed fluting down the side of the bookcase, which was the same on all the other bookcases.

All in all, this job was a great deal of work, but as always, it’s great to stand back and enjoy the result.

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Multi-level decking
Multi-level decking

Multi-level decking – Pirbright, Surrey

This job was quite satisfying.

Decking is a fantastic solution to making a pleasant space out of a part of your garden that is lumpy and uneven, and that was exactly the case here.

It was built from right outside the back door of this house in Pirbright all the way to the shed, angled at 45° to the house onto the grass, and stepped up around the corner of the house.

In this case, plywood with a softwood grain was used for the finished surface rather than the normal decking timber, and in doing this, we saved about three quarters of the price!

This will look just fine when it has been stained and preserved, and besides, it would be very easy to take the ply up and lay decking timber, should it be required sometime in the future, perhaps when the economy picks up!

Initial stages of the framework

Initial stages of the framework

Initial stages of the framework

Initial stages of the framework

Initial stages of the framework

Initial stages of the framework

Above are some shots of the initial stages of the decking, which is to fix the outer joists of the frame to whatever you have available that is secure, ensuring that they are level as you fix them.

Once they are fixed, the common joists can then be fixed between them, and in theory, should be level providing you were accurate in fitting your initial joists.

Common joists fitted in first section

Common joists fitted in first section

Common joists fitted in first section

Common joists fitted in first section

First section now supported on bricks and noggins fitted

First section now supported on bricks and noggins fitted

Sometimes though, the timber can be a little bent which can lead to the decking being out of level. To counter this, i fitted the joists with the bend hanging down, then later they could be wedged into level from the ground when the framework is supported on bricks. The noggins also add strength and rigidity.

Beginning the framework for the lower section

Beginning the framework for the lower section

Building the second section around a tree stump

Building the second section around a tree stump

Second section completed, leveled, supported and noggined

Second section completed, leveled, supported and noggined

Quite a bit of digging was involved before i could begin the second section, which was a triangle and around 150mm lower than the first. This was to ensure that the framework, once level, wasn’t touching the ground and rot would be prevented.

Luckily for me (not!), the 8 or 9 wheelbarrows of earth which had to be removed was around an old tree stump, and I lost count of the amount of roots I came across that need to be sawn off! There were a few swear-words, but i think all the neighbours were out. If they weren’t, their windows were closed!

The framework had to be built around the tree stump, which was cut off at the same level as the top of the framework, so that the ply could be kept level.

The third section went more smoothly

The third section went more smoothly

All sections completed, level and secure

All sections completed, level and secure

The next step is laying the plywood boards

The next step is laying the plywood boards

Thankfully the third section, which was the same level and adjacent to the second section was a lot more simple to do because it was basically another square. There was a bit of trimming around the drain to do near the back door but other than that, it was quite straight-forward. Once it was all leveled and supported, it was time to start laying the boards.

The tree stump was ground down

The tree stump was ground down

A plastic membrane covers the stump

A plastic membrane covers the stump

The boarding continues with the stump leveled off and fixed to

The boarding continues with the stump leveled off and fixed to

That tree stump hadn’t finished with me yet.

It was poking up higher than top of the framework, so it would’ve interfered with the ply boarding. I took an angle-grinder to it and ground it down to the same level as the framework. It seemed like quite a good idea to use something that hindered my structure as part of my structure! Before I layed any ply on it, I covered the stump with a piece of plastic membrane to prevent the stump from drawing moisture from the ground and depositing it on the underneath of the ply, possibly causing it to rot.

I then carried on laying the boards, using the stump to fix to.

Decking complete!

Decking complete!

Decking complete, a great improvement!

Decking complete, a great improvement!

The good thing about a job like this is that the easy bit laying the boards, was the last bit!

Tree stump aside, this job went really well, and will look really great when stained up.

All we need to do now is wait for summer, and then its time for barbecues! :)

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Softwood & MDF staircase with Oak & Chrome handrail - West Sussex

Softwood & MDF staircase with Oak & Chrome handrail - West Sussex

Softwood & MDF staircase with Oak & Chrome handrail – West Sussex

This was the second of two staircases I worked on in West Sussex, the main staircase can be seen here.

This staircase was built in the newly constructed section that connected two originally separate buildings together to form a large single residence. As you can see in the image to the left, the staircase is actually 3 staircases connecting 4 different levels. This is because one of the original two buildings was higher than the other.

The stairs themselves were made from softwood strings and newel stubs, with MDF treads and risers, while the handrail was from B&Q’s range of Oak and Chrome.

Routing the softwood strings

Routing the softwood strings

The staircase having been assembled

The staircase having been assembled

A single bullnose at the bottom of the middle flight of stairs

A single bullnose at the bottom of the middle flight

It was a fairly straight-forward process, as although the staircase had to connect four floors, it was only three straight flights, with no winding sections. There had to be some careful measuring before construction began, as the tread rise and going for each flight was slightly different, and a landing had to be constructed at the top of the top flight to meet regulations as there was a doorway there.

The middle flight was fitted first

The middle flight was fitted first

The bottom flight was fitted second

The bottom flight was fitted second

The top flight and landing was fitted last, before the handrail was started

The top flight and landing was fitted last, before the handrail was started

The oak and chrome handrail, newels and spindles are fitted

The oak and chrome handrail, newels and spindles are fitted

The softwood stub newels were rounded over for decorational purposes before the chrome newel bases were fitted.

Once they were on, the oak newel posts were slotted in and the chrome handrail connectors were slotted onto them once the newels were cut to the correct height ( the oak newels and the oak handrail are the same and are supplied in lengths of around 3 metres).

The oak handrail could then be fitted and the chrome spindles then followed once the oak base-rail was fixed onto the softwood strings.

I must admit that i was dubious about the appearance of the B&Q Oak and Chrome handrail system, but once it was installed, it felt fresh, clean and modern, and really did look great :)

On the other hand, B&Q sell it as something for the DIYer, but i could imagine the average non-skilled DIYer having quite a bit of trouble getting their head around some of the initial measuring and positioning of components. And this is not helped by the slight irregularities of the chrome fittings which make some easier to fit than others.

But that said, this was another job that went really well, and as always, the best part was that my customer was very pleased with it.

:)

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Continuous Spiral Handrail in Maple

Continuous Spiral Handrail in Maple

Continuous Carved Spiral Handrail in Maple – West Sussex

This is a job i was very pleased with. It took a lot of patience and frequent checks to make sure it was shaping up correctly, but the end result was extremely satisfying.

It was for a customer in West Sussex, who had bought a plot which had two separate buildings, the main house, and an annex a short distance away from the house. What he did was pretty fantastic, because he joined the two together to make one big house!

In fact, the Maple Handrail i’m describing here was for one of two staircases that would eventually be in the house, the other staircase I built from scratch, and can be seen HERE.

Original iron banisters to be removed

Original iron banisters to be removed

Original iron banisters to be removed

Original iron banisters to be removed

Original iron banisters to be removed

Original iron banisters to be removed

Above are some photos of the original iron banisters and hardwood handrail, and in my opinion, are extremely outdated and quite ugly. You might notice in the third photo that the spiral string (side of the staircase) has some awkward looking angles on it where the straight sections meet the spiral section.

Clamping pieces of timber onto the string to smooth out curve lines

Clamping pieces of timber onto the string to smooth out curve lines

Clamping pieces of timber onto the string to smooth out curve lines

Clamping pieces of timber onto the string to smooth out curve lines

Smoothed out curves ready to take baserail and handrail

Smoothed out curves ready to take baserail and handrail

After smoothing out the awkward-looking angles by sanding the convex edges and filling the concave edges, the spiral string was ready to use as a template for the new maple baserail and handrail.

Many people don’t realise that spiral baserail and handrail, although only about 30mm/60mm x 80mm in profile once finished, must be constructed from much larger lumps of timber to account for the curving. In this case, the lumps were around 120mm thick x 200mm wide x 650mm long, and the new spiral maple baserail and handrail each required 4 pieces of timber this size to be carved by hand and joined end-to-end.

Oversize lumps of timber being carved spiral, but squared profile.

Oversize lumps of timber being carved spiral, but squared profile.

Spiral carved sections being joined in square profile stage.

Spiral carved sections being joined in square profile stage.

Square profile carving now complete for baserail

Square profile carving now complete for baserail

I began with the baserail, and each section of this had to be carved into its spiral shape, but square in profile. That is to say that no moulding or grooves were yet to be applied to the timber.

This was because once i had the whole baserail carved into a square profile, it would be much easier to uniform the finished profile using a router and other power tools.

The actual carving of each section meant that i continuously had to carve away some timber from the underside of the section, try it onto the section of the string that it would eventually be fixed to, carve some away, try it on again, and repeat until the underside of the section was exactly the same shape as the string. (To ensure i had exactly the right shapes for both the baserail and the handrail, i used the string as the template for the baserail, and the baserail as the template for the handrail) Once the underside was perfect, the sides and top of the section could be carved square to the underside. I don’t mind admitting that this was a laborious process that took a lot of patience, and I lost count of the times that I had electricians, plumbers and other tradesmen all staring at what i was doing in disbelief! :)

Carving the groove for the spindles into the baserail

Carving the groove for the spindles into the baserail

Fine chiseling the groove for the spindles into the baserail after routing

Fine chiseling the groove for the spindles into the baserail after routing

Finished baserail with moulding and grooves

Finished baserail with moulding and grooves

Once I had all the sections of both the baserail and handrail carved spiral and in square profile, I was able to begin routing out the grooves for the spindles to be located into, as well as the moulded profiles.

Routing out the holes for the connectors in the handrail

Routing out the holes for the connectors in the handrail

Routing out the holes for the connectors in the handrail

Routing out the holes for the connectors in the handrail

Routing the spindle groove onto the underside of the handrail

Routing the spindle groove onto the underside of the handrail

I created a jig on my router to accurately machine the bevel on the sides of the handrail

I created a jig on my router to accurately machine the bevel on the sides of the handrail

I created a jig on my router to accurately machine the bevel on the sides of the handrail

I created a jig on my router to accurately machine the bevel on the sides of the handrail

I used an angle-grinder to shape the top of the handrail

I used an angle-grinder to shape the top of the handrail free-handedly using diminishing grits

Fine-sanding the whole handrail

Fine-sanding the whole handrail

Fine-sanding the whole handrail

Fine-sanding the whole handrail

Handrail fits perfectly onto the baserail :)

Handrail fits perfectly onto the baserail

Routing the mortice holes into the newels

Routing the mortice holes into the newels

With the spiral sections of both the baserail and handrail complete, the next thing to do was to mortice the newel posts for them to be fitted to.

These newels had a ‘spigot’, or peg on the end of them, which was to be inserted into the stub of the old newels that had been chopped down to a specific height.

These stubs had to have 50mm diameter holes drilled into the top of them to take the spigot of the new maple newel posts, and i can tell you that those old western red cedar newels were hard as rock, my poor drill could barely cope! :-D

With the newels fitted, i was able to fit the spiral handrail, as well as the straight sections upstairs

With the newels fitted, i was able to fit the spiral handrail, as well as the straight sections upstairs

Spindles can now be fitted and it really starts to take shape!

Spindles can now be fitted and it really starts to take shape!

As the spindles were fitted into the spiral section, each spacer between the spindles had to be carved to suit the spiral!

As the spindles were fitted into the spiral section, each spacer between the spindles had to be carved to suit the spiral!

The spindles really make it look special :)

The spindles really make it look special

A huge improvement on the old iron banisters

A huge improvement on the old iron banisters

Quite an impressive sight to see as you enter the house, I think!

Quite an impressive sight to see as you enter the house, I think!

Although this job was hugely time consuming and very fiddly at times, i thoroughly enjoyed it. The customer was a really nice guy, and always doing what he could to help out, and that makes a big difference on a job like this. (There was also always a lot of tea, coffee and chocolate biscuits to be had! ;) )

It’s a job that i’m extremely proud of, and i’m sure that my customer was as pleased as i was with it, and that is what it’s all about!!

Feel free to get in touch with me if you’d like something similar done for you, or even if you’d like a bit of advice. I’m always happy to help :)

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