How-to Install Log Newel Posts for Custom Iron Railings

How-to Install Log Newel Posts for Custom Iron Railings

When it comes to replacing old wooden deck rails and stair railings, there is nothing like the natural beauty and sheer strength of real log newel posts and black iron railings.

And if you are looking for a simple, cost effective way to create a modern-rustic ambiance around your home or vacation property, there is nothing as fast and easy as installing new log newel posts and custom iron railings.

Log Newel Post with Iron Railings

Welcome to LogFurnitureHowTo[dot]com

This is Part 1 of an on-going series sponsored by KingMetals.com. This series is designed to teach you How-to complete your own iron railings… and let’s face it, if you are going to install iron railings you are going to need some type of newel posts.

In this free, Do-it-Yourself video tutorial, you will learn everything required to make and install your own log newel posts for custom iron railings. Keep in mind though, if log newel posts are not for you, the techniques used in this video series are similar when installing any type of wood or iron newel posts to concrete or stone.

If you have questions or comments feel free to send me an email or simply post them in the space provided below. I am always here and happy to help.

Watch Video 1 now: How-to Peel Log Newel Posts for Iron Railings

When crafting your own log newel posts the first thing you will need is a log. Although you may choose to use any size log you like, there are some ‘standards’ when it comes to stair and hand railings. Most standard newel posts range in size anywhere from 4″x4″, 6″x6″, or 8″x8″, so consider looking for logs that are approximately 4″, 6″ or 8″ depending on the desired look.

Remember, for each log newel post you plan to install, you will need approximately 4 foot section of log.

Locating Logs

If you are lucky enough to live near a heavily wooded or mountainous region, finding suitable logs in these small diameters is usually an easy task. Start by contacting your State Forestry Department, the U.S. Forest Service, or your local Bureau of Land Management office to locate designated firewood gathering locations in your area. In most cases a simple day permit is all that is required.

Then there are the private land owners. Just ask around. You may be pleasantly surprised by how many folks will let you go to work clearing up the dead and dying trees from their property.

Let the debarking begin…

Once you have located your logs the next step is easy. Now it is time to debark or peel the logs. For this you will want a Draw Knife. Using a draw knife you are able to remove as much or as little of the bark as you desire, depending on the look you are after.

Watch Video 2 now: How-to Hand Craft Log Newel Posts

In this video you will notice, after peeling the logs, I take extra time to sand them. This step is optional. I am sanding these logs to match the two existing newel posts already installed on the customers home. Some folks prefer a rough peeled log, still others enjoy the look of a skip-peel.

Note: It is always easier to peel and sand a full length log before cutting the individual newel posts to length.

How short is too short?

As with any wood working project the exact dimensions of your finished piece are entirely up to you. But when it comes to hand railings, safety railings, stair and balcony railings there are standards and codes.

Regional building codes dictate railings to be a minimum of 36″ – 38″ off the ground or up from the pitch line of your stairs. Depending on what type of termination or mounting brackets you use, most newel posts will allow at least 4″ – 6″ clearance to the top of the railing.

Measure Railing Height from Pitch Line of Stairs

Keep in mind stair newel posts will always be taller than standard railing posts due to the rake of the stairs. Always factor in this angle and allow plenty of space to attach your new railings.

In this example, the stair newel post is 46″ while the balcony post is only 42 1/2″.

Drill Baby Drill

Now it’s time to drill the logs for the base plates. Before marking and drilling the holes needed to attach the log to the base plate, take time to consider and mark where the plates will be located. Then, determine which direction the log newel post will be positioned. Consider any natural knots, knurls, kinks and crooks and mark the log for drilling.

In this example, I am using surplus 3/4″ ‘all-thread’ for the rods to support the posts. Always bore your holes a size or two wider and a few inches deeper than the rods you will be using on the base plates. In this case I am using a 7/8″ x 16″ auger bit .

Watch Video 3 now: How-to Make Newel Post Base Plates

So now that you’ve peeled, sanded, cut your logs to length and bored them out to accept the base plates, it’s time to fabricate the plates that will be needed to fasten the logs in place.

The Base Plates

Using 1/4″ steel strap or plate, cut a rectangle just small enough to be completely covered by the diameter of your log. For example, if you are using an 8″ diameter log, you will need approximately 5″x6″ rectangle plates.

Next, after determining what fasteners you will be using, mark and drill the holes needed to fasten the base-plates to the deck or floor. In this example I drill 4 – 1/4″ holes approximately 1/2″ in from each corner.

Now, locate and mark where the rods will attach and tack or spot weld them in place. Be certain to take time and test fit the base-plates to the log newel posts before permanently welding the rods in place.

Watch Video 4 now: How-to Install Log Newel Posts for Iron Railings

So let’s get these log newel posts installed. Before drilling anything, take time to temporarily position each post in place, making sure to aline each post and mark this location.

It’s Hammer Time!

Using a masonry bit and ‘hammer-drill’, mark and pre-drill each hole to accept the mounting hardware.

You will notice in this example, I attempt to use left over ‘Tap-Con’ screws to fasten my base-plates. If you choose to use this type of fasteners I recommend at least 1/4″ x 3″, but ‘Red Heads’ or expansion bolts will work best.

Note: When installing newel posts in commercial or high-traffic applications always use 5/16″ or larger fasteners.

Once you have drilled and installed the base-plates it is simply a matter of slipping the new log newel posts into place. In this tutorial you will see I am using “Liquid Nails” brand wood glue to adhere the posts to the base-plates. Always allow ample time for the glue to dry before installing your new iron railings.

Hope this tutorial is helpful the next time you are ready to install log newel posts. To jump right into Part 2 – How-to Hand Craft Decorative Iron Railings click this link now.

Remember, if you have any questions or comments, post them below or drop me an email. I will be happy to respond.

Mitchell Dillman

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