Bomb-Proof Baluster Attachment
Double-ended lags fasten balusters to treads.
Double-ended lags are very strong and pull balusters tight to the tread or floor, but they require more work to install. You can buy them and their drivers from a variety of sources. Stair-builder James Shull uses 2-in. lags wherever he can. They don’t work well with square-top balusters because it’s nearly impossible to use them and orient the angled cut on the baluster with the rail. But in other cases, here is how James installs balusters using double-ended lags:
Predrill the baluster. After cutting off the bottom dowels, use an L. J. Smith Centaur jig to guide a drill into the center of the balusters.
ccqDrive the lags. An aluminum driver chucks into a drill, engaging one end of the lags and setting them at a consistent depth.
Set the balusters. This is as simple as it looks: Just twist the balusters onto the lags. Pay attention to keeping their faces in line, and wear gloves if you have a lot to do and don’t want blisters on your palms.
For more on installing balusters, check out James Shull’s article in FHB #269, “Mastering Balusters,” plus, see Andy Engel’s accompanying post about installing railings.