Lifting the House A Chronicle of Mayhem and Plunder


Front Porch Railing

Because of our tight budget and my obsession with doing things myself, I wanted to make the porch railings rather than buy something pre-made. I used ordinary 2x4s and 2x6s, planed and cut down slightly so as not to look like stock lumber. I wanted to give it an old fashioned appearance and not have it look like a deck. The most recent section, still unpainted in these pictures, was the stair railing -- because it's diagonal it was more challenging than the porch railings. In the end the proportions of everything came out exactly like I wanted, and Kay's color scheme looks really good. We are very happy with it.

Construction Details

For those interested...
Starting with regular 2-by lumber, I shaved all the boards down to 1-1/4" with my surface planer, ripped them down slightly on the table saw, and rounded the railing pieces with a 1/2" rounding bit on the router table. The balusters (vertical pieces between the top and bottom rails) are 1-1/4 x 1-1/4 pieces. I made some header strips 5/8" thich by planing down ordinary 1x4s and ripping them to 2-1/2". After measuring and marking these for position I laid everything out on the porch and nailed the balusters between the two headers, placing a 1/4" thick strip of scrap under the ends of the balusters to lift them up so they would be centered on the headers. Then after nailing the railing pieces together I nailed the ladder-like baluster assembly between them. I made the railings an inch or two overly long so I could trim the ends for a good fit between the porch posts.

Click to enlarge photos