How to Build a Porch Railing

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON-VO:
TODAY’S HOUSECALL TAKES ME TO BENNINGTON, VERMONT.  FROM THE OLD-FASHIONED BARBERSHOP ON MAIN STREET, TO THE BRILLIANT FALL FOLIAGE, BENNINGTON LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF A NORMAN ROCKWELL PAINTING. 
SO IT’S NO SURPRISE THAT ROCKWELL, AS WELL AS ARTIST GRANDMA MOSES AND POET ROBERT FROST HAVE ALL CALLED THIS AREA HOME.
SO DO TODD AND KIM BENNER AND THEIR CHILDREN, ALICIA, EMILY AND ELIJAH. 
THE BENNERS ARE NOT NEW TO HOME IMPROVEMENT.  THEY RECENTLY BUILT THIS WRAP AROUND PORCH THEMSELVES.  NOW THEY’D LIKE TO MAKE ONE MORE IMPROVEMENT BY ADDING A RAILING AND THAT’S WHY I’VE COME TO BENNINGTON.
Ron: 
Hey guys!  How are you?

Todd:
Hi Ron.

Ron: 
Hey Todd.  Hi Kim.

Kim: 
Hi Ron.

Ron:
So this is the project huh?  Beautiful deck by the way it’s gorgeous.  This is what?  Mahogony? 

Todd:
Mahogany, yes.

Ron:
OK, so tell me what you were thinking.

Todd: 
Well we’ve gotten everything completed except for the, the railing and uh we spend a lot of time out here with the kids and uh we just wanted something that was safe and, and just be able to complete the project.

Ron: 
And this is a great porch and you’re right here on a cul-de-sac so you can really use it a lot.  What I’m thinking of is something fairly simple, clean lines to go with what’s already here.  And I believe what we’ll do is set up some tools in your driveway out here and we’ll begin by taking some measurements and then cutting some of the components and then install ‘em and set ‘em in place.  So I’ll follow you guys.

Ron: 
Now we’re going to make up our porch railing with three pieces, starting with this top or hand rail right here.  It has a groove cut on the bottom side and into that are going to go the spindles.  Then the spindles are going to sit on top of a bottom rail.  Now we’re going to make these up in sections that are going to fit between the columns up there.  So what Todd and Kim are doing right now is measuring each section so we can get a good fit.  So guys, how we coming?  Are you getting one measurement at the top and one at the bottom?  Great.

 

 

Ron: 
Well here’s a piece of the top or handrail here guys.  So Kim you, you do that and what’s your first measurement there?

Todd: 
56 and a half inches.

Ron: 
Okay you go ahead and mark it.  Okay great here’s a combination square, just draw a line across there. 

RON-VO:
TODD USES MY POWER MITER SAW TO CUT EACH TOP RAIL TO LENGTH.  THEN DOES THE SAME FOR THE BOTTOM RAILS.  NEXT, I ADJUST THE SAW’S STOP BLOCK TO 26 INCHES.  THAT’S THE LENGTH OR HEIGHT FOR EACH SPINDLE.  THE STOP BLOCK MAKES SURE EACH PIECE WILL BE EXACTLY THE SAME LENGTH.
Ron: 
Now we’re gonna make our bottom rail from this piece of 2 by 4, we could use it just like this and put the spindle on top but I’m going to make a slight modification.  I’m going to cut the corners off forming chamfers right here and here.  Two reasons for this, one I think it looks really nice but more importantly it allows any water that hits the top to more easily run off to the side.  Now we’re going to make this cut on the table saw, got the blade tilted over at about 30 degrees and I’ll run the wood through on edge like this. 

Ron: 
Alright guys ya got the spindles there huh?  I’ve been laying out the position on the top and bottom rail where these are going to go.  You’ll notice I laid them side by side, marked the position on both at the same time so we make sure that the spindles are straight all right?  Now we’re gonna deal with the bottom rail so I’ll put the top one aside over here.  And I’m gonna give you guys each a drill and you’ll see I made some marks here some cross marks.  Just go ahead and drill all the way through and just make sure that those holes are as straight as you can make them.

Ron: 
What we’re gonna do now is attach these spindles to this bottom rail like so with a long screw it’s gonna come up through the bottom.  Now to make this positioning a little bit easier, I’ve made up this temporary jig right here.  So what you guys will do is lay this bottom rail on its side like this, take one spindle, lay it right in here.  And you see that mark, the pencil mark there?  You wanna get that just about in the center of the spindle.  And then while one person holds like this, the other can put in the screw.  There’s your screw. 

Ron: 
Well there’s one section.  Looks great guys.  All right Todd now grab the top rail over there, we’re gonna assemble this now.  And lay that down with the groove side up.  So this is gonna be bottom side up okay?  And we’re going to put the ends of these spindles right into that groove and the center of the spindle should go pretty much on that pencil mark that we drew earlier. 

RON-VO:
TO AVOID VISIBLE SCREWHEADS ALONG THE TOP RAIL, WE TOENAIL THE SPINDLES TO THE RAILING.
Ron: 
Kim why don’t you try it?

RON-VO:
SINCE A HAMMER WOULD PROVE CUMBERSOME BETWEEN THE SPINDLES, A PNEUMATIC NAIL GUN IS THE IDEAL TOOL FOR THE JOB.  THIS TOOL IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE AFFORDABLE … I FIND IT ALMOST INDESPENSIBLE FOR MANY JOBS. 
Ron:
There we go.  We have a section of railing.

RON-VO:
NOW IT’S USUALLY EASIER AND LESS MESSY TO PAINT THE RAILING SECTIONS BEFORE  INSTALLING THEM.
Ron:
Nice job! …uh oh…

RON-VO:
AND IT’S ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA TO LET THE PAINT DRY BEFORE LAYING  A HAND ON IT . .  SO, WHILE I’M OFF  IN SEARCH OF PAINT REMOVER, THE BENNERS COMPLETE THE JOB.
Ron: 
Well my goodness haven’t you guys been productive.  This the last one?  Okay well we’ll let the paint dry and then we’ll go ahead and start putting these up.

 

 

 


RON:
WELL THERE’S NOT MUCH POINT IN WATCHING PAINT DRY WHEN YOU CANGO DOWNTOWN  AND WITNESS BENNINGTON’S WILD SIDE.  IT’S A PARADE HONORING LOCAL BUSINESSMAN AND CIVIC LEADER, TERRY EHRICH.  HE OWNS HEMMINGS AUTO NEWS – THE PREMIERE MAGAZINE FOR CLASSIC CAR COLLECTORS AND THERE ARE PLENTY OF CLASSIC CARS ON DISPLAY TODAY. 
NOW THIS MAY NOT LOOK MUCH LIKE HOME IMPROVEMENT, BUT I BELIEVE ANY JOB SHOULD LEAVE A LITTLE TIME FOR FUN AND FRESH AIR.  AFTER THE LAST OF THE PARADERS PASSESS BY WE HEAD BACK TO THE HOUSE TO INSTALL OUR PORCH RAIL.
Ron: 
So let’s put this in.  Here are a couple of temporary spacer blocks, put ‘em right down on the deck vertically, that’s right.  These are just to get this at the right height and I’ll slip this in you guys wanna sort of grab it there.  It’s just cut just to the right length it’s a little tight.  Now I’ve drawn a centerline on the post right here and one on the top rail.  Just align those so everything will be in the middle same on the bottom. 

RON:
NOW I’VE CHOSEN TO ATTACH THE RAILING TO THE POST WITH FINISH-HEAD SCREWS AS OPPOSED TO NAILS BECAUSE THEY CREATE A STRONGER BOND AND AT THIS ANGLE, THEY’RE BARELY NOTICEABLE.
RON-VO:
WITH TODD AND KIM WORKING TOGETHER, OUR RAILING IS INSTALLED IN LESS THAN AN HOUR …  NOW IT’S READY TO BE ENJOYED.
Ron: 
We did it guys.  We did it.  Didn’t it turn out nicely?

Kim: 
It’s beautiful, beautiful.

Ron: 
I love the way it looks from the outside looking in, it adds a really nice bit of detail to the house but I like the way it makes you feel when you’re sitting here, just enough sort of you know protection if you will from the street out there.  You’re going to revive the porch in America I swear you are.  Thanks for having me.

Todd: 
Thank you for coming.

RON:
WELL THE BENNER’S HOME HAS ALWAYS BEEN A NICE FIT HERE IN BENNINGTON, BUT THEIR NEW PORCH RAILING ADDS SO MUCH…KIND OF LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF A NORMAN ROCKWELL PAINTING.

Learn how to build and install porch railing; includes details on an assembly jig as well as construction tips, materials, and tools lists.

This HouseCall took Ron to Bennington, Vermont, a small New England town resembling something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. It comes as no surprise, then, that Rockwell as well as artist Grandma Moses and poet Robert Frost have all called this area home. This town is also home to Todd and Kim Benner and their children, Alicia, Emily and Elijah. The Benners had recently built a wrap around porch but they asked Ron to help them with one more improvement