General contractor Tom Silva takes us on a house call to help a homeowner make their Queen Anne-style home’s staircase whole again. The homeowner explains that her daughter broke one of the balusters on the staircase, and due to the ornate rope profile, getting replacements has not been easy.
After assessing the staircase and without making promises, Tom decides to try the project. He removes another loose baluster to take as a sample and heads back to the shop to turn a new baluster on his lathe.
Tom makes a profile template for the baluster at the shop using thick manila paper. He then carries the template’s marks to the blank wood and carves. Using a host of chisels and gouges, he’s able to carve the base and top of the baluster and round over the mid-section in preparation for the rope detail.
To create the rope detail, Tom divides the blank into three sections and then runs a string from mark to mark to create the rope detail’s rough shape. He then cuts the profile with a backsaw before tuning the shape up with a rasp and sandpaper.
Next, Tom applies lacquer over the entire baluster before applying a finishing stain to match the look of the existing balusters. 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.
Tom helps a homeowner missing original spiral detailed spindles from their staircase by hand-turning
replicas on a lathe.
Where to find it?
- Tom measures and marks the center portion of the baluster in equal increments.
- He uses the parting tool for low points of the spindle details.
- Then, Tom uses the spindle gouge to carve into tighter areas.
- Tom uses the skew chisel to carve into the spindle’s larger areas and round out the edges.
- He uses a hand saw to cut slots in the spindle following the traced out lines from the string.
- Tom uses a rasp to file down the edges of the saw cuts until each section has a rounded edge.
- He then applies a wax-free gel shellac to the spindles to match the existing ones.
- Tom uses a circular saw to cut the spindle to length for installation.
- Tom 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.
Original Air Date: May 25, 2023, Season 21; Ep. 24 23:42