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Railing Project for Steps

CalgaryPT

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Premium Member
#1
Nothing fancy...just essential. We have had a few falls on our front step over the years, especially as our friends and family get older. So I finally got around to this project. We needed a second railing for our steps as the one that came with the house is on the far side and made inaccessible by the adjacent porch column. So I added an exact copy of it (excluding scroll) to the other side of the steps.

We also have an odd single step on our walkway leading to the door. We have had one friend take a nasty fall here as she wasn't expecting it. I can't get the image of her at 71 years of age doing a face plant on the concrete; it still haunts me. So I also made a second railing here to match the others—more as a visual cue when approaching it that there is a step there. Hopefully this will do the trick.

In one of the pics you see that the original railing has a scroll on it. I actually have a great scroll bender (https://images.app.goo.gl/sFy3B2iSsDcsMiQY7) but it is just slightly too small to handle 1 1/4" x 1/4" flat. So instead I just did a drop bend on my press brake, and will cut off the scroll on the original railing next week and weld on an identical drop bend so everything matches.

Materials:
1 1/4" x 1/4" for top rails
1" x 1/4" for bottom rails
1" x 1/8" wall square tube for posts
1/2" x 1/16" wall square tube for balusters
4" x 1/4" mounting brackets, 1/2" holes punched on ironworker and secured with 2 3/4" x 3/8" concrete wedge anchors. I know some people love Tapcons for these, but I don't use them in any application that wiggles. I've never used that fancy epoxy either—but I hear it works great and really should try it one day. I always oversize bracket holes so I have some play. Plus, I use temporary tacked brackets for markup on the concrete, then re-punch if necessary as you always seem to wander off centre on concrete.

Finish is Tremclad Red Oxide Primer (love that stuff) with two coats black semi-gloss Tremclad metal paint.

rail5.JPG rail7.jpg rail6.jpg rail3.jpg rail2.jpg rail1.jpg
 
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DPittman

Active Member
#3
Wow looks good and what a timely post of a project that's on my mind. I JUST came back from my 87 year old mother-in-laws place where she climbs up a home made steel spiral staircase to her "loft" and it's a bloody wonder someone has yet been seriously hurt! I hope to someday redo or replace the stairs themselves but in the meantime I HAVE to make a guard rail that protects the one COMPLETELY open side that is above the basement stairs. In the attached picture the basement stairs are below the back of the fridge and the spiral staircase so you probably can imagine how scary dangerous it is.

I won't be able to make anything as fancy as CalagaryPT made but I appreciate seeing the pictures and the sharing of the info, I know am a wee bit closer to knowing what I might do for my project. IMG_20150907_110313.jpg
 

CalgaryPT

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#4
Thanks. I feel guilty because before I retired a couple of years ago I was always too "busy." I knew I needed to make these railings. Once I retired I got tied up with other projects. There were a couple of falls, then last year our friend introduced her face to the pavement. I should have done it earlier. If I had it to over again I would prioritize it.

If you can find the time don't put it off. I have CCTV cameras and watched this poor old lady face plant over and over again on camera like a bad dream. It was like one of those YouTube videos played forwards and backwards with the intention of laughing at someone else's pain. I felt horrible for weeks. We named the single step after her and joke about it now, but honestly I wasn't pleased with myself because I knew better.

In fact, looking back at my working days, I would have fired people who worked for me if they had been so negligent knowing a hazard existed and didn't fix it. So I was pretty ashamed of myself when it happened.

Not to lay the guilt trip on you, but even something temporary could have helped in my case.

Best of luck.

P.S. Nothing I make is fancy. But it works.
 

CalgaryPT

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Premium Member
#7
I MIG'd it. Easy peasy.

As much as I like to TIG, MIG works better here. It fills gaps easily, and if you crank up the voltage and gas and use a longer stick-out it allows you to get into the angles and still get good penetration. Always fun welding 1/16" balusters to 1/4" plate! But with a few practice runs I got it. Not perfect, but at least as good as the stock railing that came with the house. Most of the strength is between the posts and the top and bottom railings which are 1/8" wall tubing to 1/4" flat steel...so pretty do-able. The original railing was clearly MIG'd. But I have seen some sticked as well.

Angle cuts were made on a horizontal band saw. I think I have mentioned it on the forum before but I have a King 7x12 swivel bandsaw (the saw swivels—not the vise). I needed this because I don't have room in my shop to pivot a 10' piece of stock at 45 degrees...I need the saw to swivel so the stock can lay in the one small path remaining in my shop. After rough fit-up, just a quick pass against a stationary disk sander to de-burr and fine tune the angle as necessary.

Years ago I made a railing out of rebar and fish mouthed the joints rather than gap fill the angles because all the material was round. Rebar is great railing material because it has a natural grip for the hands. But I learned you have to be super careful because people run their hands down that surface as they go down the steps. So now I wire brush every weld to ensure no sharp edges are left.

The angle doesn't have to be perfect because you can gap fill flat stock with MIG easily. Once I had the top and bottom rail angles dialled in (see pic with magnetic angle finder), the rest was easy.