Make a Simple Template to Install Deck-Rail Cables
Using a jig to install deck cable rail is essential for a fast, accurate layout.
Stainless-steel cables are a modern, durable alternative to wood balusters. Here’s how to install them level and straight.
Using stock the same width as the posts, measure the distance from the decking to the bottom of the top rail. Then subtract 1/2 in. and cut to length. The 1/2 in. gives the jig the ability to be registered to either the decking or the rail, so opposing runs of cable are staggered and don’t intersect in corners.
To mark the template for drilling, snap a line down the center face of the jig and mark the hole locations along the line. Here, we’re dividing our 36-in. height by a 3-in. spacing. Drill holes perpendicular to the face of the jig as straight as possible.
If you’re having trouble drilling straight, you can use a clamped scrap of hardwood with the same diameter hole in it as a guide. The diameter of the hole will vary based on cable size. Here, we’re using a 1/4-in. bit for a 3/16-in. cable.
For the sides of the template, rip lengths of 1/2-in. plywood and attach to the sides using screws.
To use, fit the jig around a post, register it to either the decking or the top rail, and begin drilling. If a drill bit is too short to reach through the post or to avoid tear-out on the other side of the post, move the jig and finish drilling from the other side.