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Round Baluster Drilling Jig?

NotChuck's picture

I'm trying to find a commercially produced jig for accurately drilling round baluster holes in stair railings at various angles, years ago there were 1 or 2 different ones available but I am having trouble locating them or a source for them, can anyone point me in the right direction?

SUGARLOAF WOODWORKING


Architectural Woodworking & Quality Restoration of Older Homes


"Anything is Possible"


 

SUGARLOAF WOODWORKING

Architectural Woodworking & Quality Restoration of Older Homes

"Anything is Possible"

 

(post #122214, reply #1 of 22)

L.J.Smith has some in thier catalog. Pricey tho.

Mr T


Happiness is a cold wet nose


Life is is never to busy to stop and pet the Doggies!!

. .

(post #122214, reply #3 of 22)

He may also want to talk to Lar.... never mind.

 

 

(post #122214, reply #4 of 22)

The LJ Smith BoreBuster looks like the item I was looking for,  this job is down to the wire so I may have to bite the bullet on the price, otherwise normally I'd use the careful drilling method, Thanks all for the information

SUGARLOAF WOODWORKING


Architectural Woodworking & Quality Restoration of Older Homes


"Anything is Possible"


 

SUGARLOAF WOODWORKING

Architectural Woodworking & Quality Restoration of Older Homes

"Anything is Possible"

 

(post #122214, reply #5 of 22)

PS: Found this nice PDF file which seems to be a good source of information for their stair parts installation http://www.ljsmith.com/installation.pdf for anyone with questions about this type of work. Thanks again


SUGARLOAF WOODWORKING


Architectural Woodworking & Quality Restoration of Older Homes


"Anything is Possible"


 

SUGARLOAF WOODWORKING

Architectural Woodworking & Quality Restoration of Older Homes

"Anything is Possible"

 

(post #122214, reply #2 of 22)

Mr T is right,


               For all things Rail refer to the L.J. Smith book. They also sell special bits designed to make nice holes in the rail once it is in place. I always put up any Rake rail. Them mark it with a Baluster level, then Drill Carefullly. If you are carefull and use a sharp bit, you'll get nice holes.


             Also check the size of your Balusters. I always end up grinding a bit down to get a nice tight fit.


             The Rail Drilling Jig will probably set you back two or three days pay.

(post #122214, reply #6 of 22)

"I'm trying to find a commercially produced jig for accurately drilling round baluster holes in stair railings at various angles,"


Wood,


How often will this "jig" need to be used, and how many different angles?  The reason I ask, is something like that is SO EASY to fab up if done for a fixed angle.  Here's one I made for a railing I just did.  Took like 2 minutes.  Nothing more than Honduras mahogany block made square and parallel with an accurately drilled hole and centerline.


One could add a hardened steel bushing, and it would last a lifetime.Just clamp it to the railing after aligning and drill away.


Jon 


Edited 6/7/2004 12:00 pm ET by WorkshopJon

(post #122214, reply #7 of 22)

Did you use a drill press to drill the hole?  How did you determine the angle to drill?

(post #122214, reply #8 of 22)

"Did you use a drill press to drill the hole? "


Paul,


I'm luckey enough to have a milling machine with all the accessories in my shop so no, but a drill press would work quite well I'm sure.


"How did you determine the angle to drill?"


Half dozen different ways to do that, but the easiest IMO, Lay the block or the railing on the stairs, strike a vertical l(or horizontal) line with a level. set it up in the drill press the same way, bore it, done.


Jon

(post #122214, reply #9 of 22)

I would do it the oposite of the way that John did it.

Use a drill press to drill hole square to the face of 3x3 or 4x4.

Then take an adjustable bevel and hold it against the rail and level held plumb.

That set your miter saw at the same angle and cut the bottom of the jig to that angle.

. William the Geezer, the sequel to Billy the Kid - Shoe

(post #122214, reply #10 of 22)

yup..that's how I have always done it..never seem to have a milling machine or drill press on site {G}

 


Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks


Repairs, Remodeling, Restorations. 


 


 

www.richmondrenovationsandrestoration.com  

(post #122214, reply #11 of 22)

"that's how I have always done it..never seem to have a milling machine or drill press on site"


Duane,


We use the tools we have at our disposal.  In a bind, many different ways to accomplish the same thing.  Was the way I did it the best way? I doubt it, but for 14 spindles it worked quite well.  Advantages include:


Easy to align & clamp


Built-in depth stop


Cost....for all intents and purposes, free


A few more pics, of how I used mine.


 


Jon

(post #122214, reply #12 of 22)

I have always done it by eye with a helper checking one side while I look at the other.  The way you are doing it must prevent any chipping and is probably 100% accurate and quicker.  Thanks for the pictures.  I will make it like Bill suggested because I don't have the machine you have. 


I was thinking that cutting a slot to catch one end of the clamp might make it easier to move and tighten down.....or maybe a screw that goes into the rail ate the location of the next spindle.  Again thanks for the picture, I can't believe I never tried to make one.

(post #122214, reply #13 of 22)

Never done a handrail...but it sounds like your idea of a screw to hold the jig at the next baluster location would serve the added function of marking the next location.


Be sure to use a clamp pad on the finished side of the handrail, not like Jon did.  :)


 


Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell'em "Certainly, I can!"  Then get busy and find out how to do it.  T. Roosevelt

I'm sorry, I thought you wanted it done the right way.

(post #122214, reply #14 of 22)

"Be sure to use a clamp pad on the finished side of the handrail, not like Jon did.  :)"


Ed,


Geez, there is a clamping pad clearly visible in the pics.  Also, one of the problems with referencing off a prior hole is tolerance stack-up.   For one or two, it won't much matter.  For 20 holes, if your off by a 1/32" on each, that's almost 3/4" !!!!


 


IMO, better to mark the railing with a pencil, and reference the centerline of where you want the the holes.


Jon


Edited 6/8/2004 12:52 pm ET by WorkshopJon

(post #122214, reply #15 of 22)

Oops.  I see it now.  At forst I thought that was part of the profile.  And really, I was just giving you a hard time...I thought those pics were a mockup with scrap wood so you could show the jig and the technique.


After I made the comment about the screw indexing the next baluster, I had second thoughts.  You're right about the dimension creep.


 


Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell'em "Certainly, I can!"  Then get busy and find out how to do it.  T. Roosevelt

I'm sorry, I thought you wanted it done the right way.

(post #122214, reply #16 of 22)

"I thought those pics were a mockup with scrap wood so you could show the jig and the technique."


Ed,


Actually, they were.  Had an extra 2' scrap left from the project.  Half the questions here come from DIY's or apprentices, and often a one shot deal.  Thought my experience would help.  Often the way the "PRO's" do stuff is not the BEST way, just the most efficient day to day.


Pro's have the time to learn.


Jon

(post #122214, reply #17 of 22)

Not exactly what you're after, but maybe it will give someone some ideas:

When I was doing a horizontal deck railing with 1x2 spindles I first made a simple template for drilling the holes in a 3-foot section, then made a template with a peg spaced one hole away from a piece of plastic that served as a router template for the rectangular spindle hole. For the stairs I used a different peg spacing and a slightly wider hole in the router template, then went at it with a dovetail bit.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #122214, reply #19 of 22)

We, also, make one similar to Jon's and with Bill's method. We make our guide exactly the size of the squared rail bottom, then screw two ply "keepers" with registration notches, one on each side. No side play. We also use clamps with big cushy pads on the top. When you're trying to make money you've got to have speed and accuracy. Sure makes 30 balusters in one rail go in easier<G>

Don't worry, we can fix that later!

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Chapel Hill, NC

 

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(post #122214, reply #20 of 22)

"When you're trying to make money you've got to have speed and accuracy"


Billy,


Well said.  Both are important.You use the tools you have available.  Sometimes they ain't pretty, sometimes they are.


Jon

(post #122214, reply #21 of 22)

All,


I know this was not my post to start but thanks for all the info.  I've been doing a rail system a week for years now and I just wish I had this info years ago. 


Thanks to all

(post #122214, reply #22 of 22)

Actually, if one ever needs to guide a tap into a hole, something fabbed up similarly works real good too.


Jon

(post #122214, reply #18 of 22)

don't get me wrong, it's a cool way to do it. I have already had no choice but to vee notch a jorgenson handscrew and clamp a 4'' pc. of 3/4'' I.D. pipe as a drill bushing, and clamp the whole schmear to the rail..my balusters were 13/4 sq..with a 3/4 dowel in each end.


whatever gets the job done in a pinch..btw, it worked a lot better than I thought it would..the 3/4" multispur tracked real well.


 


Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks


Repairs, Remodeling, Restorations. 


 


 

www.richmondrenovationsandrestoration.com