What's Their Story? Stair Spindles
Learn the history of these hard-working stair parts
The fancy newel post at the bottom of the stairs always gets the attention, but it's the spindles—those leggy beauties steadying the handrail—that do the heavy lifting.
Before the Industrial Revolution brought mechanical lathes to turn wood quickly and cheaply, these spindles were typically unadorned, save for those in the grand stair halls of the superwealthy. But by Victorian times, the plain little pickets had been transformed with decorative beading, graceful twists, and classical fluting details.
Millwork catalogs from the late 1800s showed dozens of spindle designs in various wood types. Builders often picked pine, which they painted so that the spindles would match the stair's vertical risers or other trim in the room.