How to Replace Staircase Balusters | Ask This Old House

In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner by installing a hand-carved baluster for their ornate Queen Anne home’s staircase.

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When a homeowner reached out about a missing hand-turned spindle in the staircase of her 1900s Queen Anne Rowhouse, Tom Silva replicated the spiral-detailed spindles on his lathe. He then cuts the baluster to length, installs a dowel that connects the base of the baluster with the stair tread and finishes the job by fastening the top of the baluster in place with a trim head screw.

Spindle Installation
1. Measure the length of the top of the existing balusters and transfer this mark to the new baluster. Hold the baluster in place at the railing at this mark and scribe the profile of the railing onto the baluster. Use a coping saw to cut the baluster at this mark.
2. Dry-fit the spindle in place. Mark the length on the bottom of the baluster, and cut the baluster to length.
3. Use a Forstner bit to drill a hole in the bottom of the baluster and a corresponding hole in the stair tread. Cut a piece of dowel to length, place it in the bottom of the baluster and over the hole in the stair tread, and fit the baluster in place. Secure it by pre-drilling and installing trim head screws before touching up the hole with the stain.

Where to find it?
Tom uses a circular saw [] to cut the spindle to length for installation.

He applies wood glue [] into the existing hole of the tread and stand the baluster in place by dropping in the dowel [] extending from the bottom.

Finally, at an angle, Tom uses a pin nailer [] to shoot two 1-inch pin nails [] through the top of the baluster to secure it into the handrail.

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Wood glue []
Trimhead screws []
1 inch pin nails []

Circular saw []
Drill []
Forstner bits []
Pin nailer []

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About Ask This Old House TV:
From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. ASK This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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How to Replace Staircase Balusters | Ask This Old House

11 Replies to “How to Replace Staircase Balusters | Ask This Old House”

  1. Beautiful work Tommy. Don’t you just wish you could be a fly on the wall to watch the carpenter who originally build that stair case?

  2. They were wearing the same clothes before he took the baluster as when he came back

  3. It's creepy have anyone peeking through the mail flap. Too many people doing it for the wrong reasons.
    Zero cute. It reads as an invasion of privacy.

  4. Pleased to see the footage at the end showing how these were made, very interesting and they turned out amazing ????

  5. I'm always impressed when someone says "I've never done this before, but let's see what happens" Too many people these days wouldn't even try. They'd just say, "I don't know how to do that. I can't do it."

Comments are closed.