Post by Mike and Catherine
Nate and Darryn began the onsite restoration of the staircase and railing last week. We've been taking photos along the way and thought we'd share some images from the installation.
The first steps included disassembling the existing staircase to make way for the new. This included adding a third (middle) stringer to add stability to the staircase. Next, the new risers and treads were installed. The bottom riser and tread that define the volute were installed first, providing an enticing visual early in the process.
In the first photo above, you can see the profile of the old filigree in the old crusty paint below the treads. The filigree had to be removed from the side of the staircase to enable the installation.
Mike used the silent paint remover to get rid of the crusty old (lead) paint left after the filigree was removed, which helped clear the slate for the new detail.
Here is Darryn putting back the filigree with new pieces that match the original. They had traced the profile before taking off the old, and recreated it in their workshop.
The profile matches the old exactly, as the fit within line of the old paint shows.
The composition started to materialize, with more enticing visuals each day.
Next, attention was turned to readying the landing for the balusters and railing. Here, Darryn has removed the old apron and is fitting the new apron that the balusters will land in.
Darryn and Nate working out the details of the corner after the newel was installed at the top of the stairs.
The new newels are much more slender, elegant and of course, historic. Here Nate and Darryn work out the transition of the top stair tread to the tapered original floor board on the landing.
Many of the fine adjustments that are required can only be made with original tools that offer the control needed for the delicate work.
Much of the work is also accomplished with modern tools, but antiques such as these (not the chalkline of course) are in equal usage and are irreplaceable for the work.
The detail railing elements sat by patiently awaiting their turn to shine. Here is the finished railing turn for the volute.
Here is the joined gooseneck and upper railing turn, along with the newel that rests in the center of the volute.
At the end of the week, Nate and Darryn were ready to test how the railing elements would go together after the extended planning and milling of the system. Here, Nate is eyeing a mockup of the railing that will extend from the volute up to the gooseneck.
The pieces were fit in place just for a test. But here is a first glimpse of the installed volute, minus the balusters.
And here is a first visual of the gooseneck and the upper turn dry fit onto the upper newel.
So beautiful. The gooseneck allows the railing to continue to travel over the top of the newels and balusters.
It was a satisfying end to the week when the mock up of the railing showed the that planning paid off, and everything was destined to fit together exactly as planned. Temporarily installed in place, the elegance and beauty of the gooseneck and upper turn was truly something to behold. Because there had been so much attention on the complexity of the volute, it was really only at this point that the upper end of the handrail shone on its own.
There are still a few steps to complete before the final installation of the railing, so these special handcrafted pieces wait patiently again.