hands drilling a large hole into a stair post
Photo: Kristine Larsen
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Wobbly Stair Railing

Potential problem: A shaky newel, the vertical post that anchors the rail, is the likely culprit. One weak link like this can put undue stress on the entire balustrade and lead to an accident.

Fix it now: Insert a lag screw through the base of the post and into the staircase framing. One screw will steady most posts, but if it's still a little wobbly, drive in a second screw. Countersink the fasteners and hide the heads with plugs cut from a 1-inch-diameter dowel. To make this repair, all you need are a few basic tools: a drill/driver, 1-inch spade bit, ratchet wrench, and handsaw.

What you'll save: About $65 an hour for a carpenter to steady the newel and repair—or replace—snapped spindles. Then there's what you'd save on hospital bills if anyone took a tumble.

DIY: See a how-to guide for tightening a newel.
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