Fitting flooring around stair rail spindles
We are getting some hardwood flooring installed in parts of the house we are moving to. A flooring company quoted an extra $700 to have the stair railing removed and re-installed after the flooring installation was complete, and over a hundred dollars for bull-nose trim material.
That seemed a bit much, and I didn't like the idea of having the railing torn apart and put back together, so I decided to experiment with fitting the flooring around the stairs instead.
I figured the easiest way was to mark where the spindles go on the flooring and then cut that out on the bandsaw. Fortunately, my workshop is close by, so I could just wheel my bandsaw into the house's garage to have it nearby.
I used a square to transfer the lateral position of the spindles to the floor boards, then cut that out on the bandsaw. I didn't leave much slack so it usually took a few checks and more trimming to get the pieces to fit.
For the board that goes on the other side, I used a few pieces of flooring as a spacer, then used another piece of flooring the same thickness to mark how deep the notches need to go. That way I had the depth of the notches marked to fit the spindles to begin with.
For the long row of spindles I used two boards, with another board pressed against them to make sure it was in a straight line. Here marking the first board to go on. I used a piece of flooring to mark an offset from each spindle for the notches.
In retrospect, I should have made both boards longer and meet in a 45° miter, but I thought of that too late.
I needed a bull-nose profile for the part of the flooring that overhangs the edge. I started by cutting the edges of the boards square in my workshop at the old house.
I opened up a number of bundles of the flooring before the flooring contractor arrived. The flooring pieces come in random lengths, and it occurred to me that with enough optimization, much of the floor could be laid without making any cuts. I sorted a lot of the shorter flooring pieces by length and started to lay some of it out.
Of course, the flooring guys didn't have time for that sort of optimization. When they get to a wall, they cut whatever length they need, then use the rest of the board to start the next row.
But not all floors can be done working in only one direction. Sometimes it's necessary to work in the opposite direction, especially if the floor spans multiple rooms and closets.
When reversing direction, they reverse the orientation of the boards by inserting an extra strip of wood to effectively make the board have two tongues on it. The strip is glued in, then nailed through.
You may wonder how one would handle having two tongues facing each other, but that never happens because boards are always added on the tongue side, so when you have to reverse direction it's always with the groove facing the groove.
With the rest of the flooring done, I could glue the extra trim pieces on the bottom. I just glued these on with carpenter's glue. I was initially going to brad nail these on, but clamping them on while the glue dried made that unnecessary.
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