The Secret to Installing a Bending Wooden Handrail

Imagine an elegant staircase that bends around a slight curvature as it makes its way from top to bottom. Such a beautiful staircase deserves an equally beautiful handrail with identical curvature. When staircase and handrail match it is like a symphony of instruments playing in perfect harmony.

Did you know that you can install a bending wooden handrail yourself? It is not terribly difficult if you have moderate DIY skills. The secret is knowing what to buy BEFORE you begin installing. Atlanta-based Iron Spindle recommends you do research before attempting such an installation.

The Iron Spindle is a company that specializes in wrought iron spindle installation throughout the greater Atlanta, Georgia area. They know a thing or two about bending wooden handrails. They say a bending handrail supported by wrought iron spindles creates a truly elegant architectural element that will beautify any home. But enough of that. Let us get back to the secret of installing a bending wooden handrail.

Purchase a Handrail Kit

The big secret here really isn’t hidden. Indeed, the success of your installation rides on a bending wooden handrail kit, a kit that includes a multi-layer handrail. You need one of these kits along with the right kind of wood glue and a series of C clamps.

You use a kit for the simple reason that trying to bend a solid piece of a handrail is more trouble than it’s worth. Even if you could get it to bend to the appropriate curvature, the amount of force it would exert in its attempts to return to its original shape would make installation both impractical and unsafe.

A kit gives you anywhere between seven and 10 layers of wood that, when glued together, form the complete handrail. But because you are working with separate layers, each one is more flexible. You can get a fair amount of curvature within the layers while both they and the glue are still pliable. Once the glue cures though, you will have a solid handrail perfectly bent to match your staircase.

How to Install It

Installing a bending handrail is simple in principle. You start by constructing guide blocks. These are plywood blocks attached to the outer edge of each riser, forming the shape your handrail will eventually take. The top of each block is notched wide enough to accommodate the handrail.

With the guide blocks in place, you lay out each layer of your handrail, apply glue to either side of each layer, and stick them together. Just be sure not to apply glue to the outside edges of the two outermost layers. You do not want to glue your handrail to the guide blocks.

Next, you insert the glued handrail into the glide blocks from top to bottom. Use shims to centre the handrail and keep it firmly in place. Finally, attach C clamps along the length of the handrail to ensure that all of the layers stay tightly together until the glue cures. Let the whole thing dry for 24 hours and you’re done.

From there you can cut your handrail to length, install your newel posts, and then start thinking about wooden or wrought iron spindles. Just a couple more steps and you will have an elegant looking staircase that truly defines the space it occupies.

The folks at the Iron Spindle say there are plenty of online resources to help you better understand how to install a bending handrail. If you want one but don’t think you can do the job yourself, there should be contractors in your area capable of doing it for you.