Curved Wood Guardrail
I’m an architect that has had more than my fair share of questions answered here on this website. Here is yet another one:
I designed a deck with a curved handrail a while back for a house that is finally approaching completion. Over the course of construction there have been a number of material changes and this deck is one of them. I originally specified redwood for the deck but the client elected through their own research to go with port orford cedar. The drawings call for the use of a couple of wide boards; a 1×10 fascia baord that is kerf cut on the back to accomplish the curve at rim joist condition and a 20′ radiused 2×6 cap rail with a 2×4 “subrail”. This curved 2×6 cap rail was going to be executed by cutting it out of a 14′-2×12 piece of redwood if necessary. The beauty of redwood is that all these pieces are imminently available. But that is a story for another time and another place. Now we are doing a deck out of redwood and I come to find out that the tallies for port orford are all out of wack. The local lumber yard only carries 2×4 and 2×6 sizes. What can we do about this radius. We’ve talked about getting alaskan yellow cedar for the cap rail. Perhaps the species difference will not be that noticable? Who bends a 2×6 the hard way on a 20′ radius? Does anyone know of a good source for steaming cedar? Lamination? We have post supports at roughly 3’4″ spacing but clearly would like to keep the visible joints to a minimum. Any help is appreciated!
I'm in the middle of installing curved handrail on my main stairway and landings. My rail is sliced into vertical strips about 3/16" thick. Just fabricate some blocking on the stair treads to clamp the glued up strip assembly to get your curve and helix. Need lots and lots of clamps and slow setting glue. I'd assume that your application needs to be weatherproof. I can send you some pictures of what I did if you want.
Best of luck,
First of all, please don't post multiple times. Your question will be seen here, or in the general discussion folder.
There are a few ways to accomplish what you're talking about. The first is to obtain a bigger piece of Port Orford cedar than what you can get locally. I'm not sure how big is available, but it's larger than a 2x6. The shop I work at has a table full of port orford cedar beams right now. Not for sale, and I don't know the source- I don't think that information is freely given, actually. It's a highly sought after wood, as I'm sure you know. There are people in southern oregon that specialize it, and I'd imagine google can help you find them.
Laminations would be the alternative. If done well, with epoxy, it should be almost invisible, and it would waste a lot less wood.
Good luck- I hope you've got an able builder working with you on this one.
"so it goes"
Bear Creek Lumber would be a place to start looking for wide material.
Zak, where are you working? I have a suspicion... starts with a J
Multiple blocks used to fabricate a curved rail will not be as good looking or last as long. The pieces are subject to more movement.
All our curved rails are fabricated by ripping clear lumber into strips about 3/16" to 1/4" wide ( depends on radius and density of the chosen species ) and gluing them togeether in a form set up for the desired radius. Then we mill the desired profile to it.
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Piffen-Thanks once again Piffen. The contractor is actually talking to Standard Structures here in Santa Rosa about having them shop fabricate it. Standard Structures is a big shop down here for Glue Laminated Beams. I'm waiting on there price here later today. We also have a carpenter on the job who is expressing an interest in laminating it. It would be nice to give the job to someone working on the house already. We'll see how this all flushes out.-Mike