How to install newel posts to hardwood stair treads

Written by david brown
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How to install newel posts to hardwood stair treads
Newel posts are the foundation of a stair rail. (alhambra stairs image by Albo from

Newel posts are the foundation of the stair rail system and must be solidly attached to the stair tread and the framing underneath. There are many acceptable methods of attachment, but two of these methods account for the majority of installations. The first method is to use countersunk lag bolts to attach the newel post to the stair riser. The second method is to use a newel post rod, which is the method described here. The newel post rod comes in a kit with the rod, nut, washer and a 1 1/2-inch-diameter wooden plug.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Newel post rod kit
  • Extra 1/2-inch nut
  • Ruler
  • Drill
  • 3/8-inch drill bit
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • 1 1/2-inch drill bit
  • 3/4-inch, 12-point box-end wrench
  • Wood glue
  • Hammer

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  1. 1

    Mark the location for the centre of the newel post on the stair tread. Make sure it's in line with your other newel posts.

  2. 2

    Using the 3/8-inch bit, drill a pilot hole for the newel post rod. Drill to the depth of the lag bolt threads on the rod.

  3. 3

    Thread two 1/2-inch nuts onto the newel post rod and tighten them against each other. Screw the rod into the pilot hole by turning the nuts with the wrench; then remove the nuts.

  4. 4

    Find the centre of the newel post by drawing two intersecting diagonal lines on the bottom. Draw the lines from corner to corner; the centre is where the lines intersect. Drill a 1/2-inch diameter hole, at least 6 inches deep, at your mark.

  5. 5

    Drill a hole, centred on the face of the newel post. Six inches up from the bottom, drill a 1 1/2-inch hole, 2 1/2 inches deep. This hole will intersect the hole drilled in the previous step.

  6. 6

    Slide the newel post down over the newel post rod and install the washer and nut through the 1 1/2-inch hole. Tighten in place using the wrench.

  7. 7

    Apply a small amount of wood glue to the edge of the wooden plug and lightly tap it into the 1 1/2-inch hole. Take care to align the plug's grain with the grain of the newel post.

Tips and warnings

  • If you can't find a newel post rod, you can make your own. Cut the head off a 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch lag bolt and weld on a section of 1/2-inch all thread.
  • Always wear eye protection when using power tools.

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