Step 3: Align the Template to Form the Balusters

Align the Template to Form the Balusters for how to Build a Gingerbread Balustrade
Photo: Anthony Tieuli
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Use a miter saw to cut your baluster blanks several inches longer than their final height. (Building code typically requires a finished railing height of 36 inches, so subtract from that figure the thickness of the rails and the space beneath the bottom rail.) Secure the jig to your work surface. Place the first baluster blank in the jig, and lay the template over it, snug between the alignment stops. Use a drill/driver with a combination countersink bit to bore -inch pilot holes through the template and into the baluster blank and the cleats on all sides. Screw the template down tight over the blank and cleats, as shown.

TOH Tip: "Choose a baluster design with gentle curves that a router can easily follow." — Norm Abram
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    Tools List

    • jigsaw
      jigsaw
    • drill
      drill/driver and bits
    • 1/8-inch bit with combination countersink
      combination countersink bit
    • hole saw
      2-inch hole saw
    • miter saw
      miter saw
    • router
      router
    • router bits
      -by-2-inch straight router bit with -inch collar
    • random orbit sander
      palm sander and 180-grit sanding pads
    • 2½-inch angled sash brush

    Shopping List

    ½-inch plywood Get one 2-by-4-foot sheet for the template.

    ¾-inch plywood Get one 2-by-4-foot sheet for the jig base.

    ½x5 pine Get six 16-footers for the balusters.

    2x4 primed straight-grain Douglas fir bottom rail Get two 8-footers.

    2x4 primed and chamfered Douglas fir handrail Get two 8-footers.

    1x2 primed pine Get four 8-footers for the nailing strips.

    wood glue

    2-inch wood screws

    1½-inch stainless-steel screws

    2½-inch stainless-steel screws

    exterior latex primer

    exterior latex paint

    5/16-inch spacers