How to secure a handrail to a newel post

Updated February 21, 2017

A wooden stairway railing can add elegance and beauty to your home. When you install a handrail, you will need to understand how to secure the handrail to the newel post. The handrail is the top portion of a railing that you place your hands on. The newel post is the post at the ends of the handrail. The fasteners are typically concealed, so it may not be readily apparent how the handrail is secured, however, it can be accomplished by a homeowner as a do-it-yourself project.

Drill two holes through the front side of the newel post at the height where the handrail will intersect with the newel post using a countersink bit. The countersink will allow you to plug the holes and conceal the holes. Space the holes 1 inch in from each edge of the post.

Hold the handrail in place on the back side of the newel post with the help of a friend. Drive one lag screw through each hole in the newel post into the end of the handrail using a screw gun.

Apply wood glue to the end of the wooden plugs. Insert the plugs with the glue end into the holes. Align the grain of the wood plugs with the grain of the newel post. Allow the glue to dry for 24 hours.

Sand the wood plugs flush with the newel post using fine-grit sandpaper.

Touch up the plugged areas of the newel post with matching wood finish using a touch-up brush.


Add a wooden block on the back side of the newel post underneath the handrail for added support if the handrail is expected to see heavy use or abuse.


Wear eye protection when operating power tools and sanding wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Screw gun
  • 2 lag screws
  • Wood glue
  • 2 wooden plugs
  • Sandpaper, fine-grit
  • Wood finish touch-up
  • Small touch-up brush
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About the Author

Jonah Morrissey has been writing for print and online publications since 2000. He began his career as a staff reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. Morrissey specializes in topics related to home-and-garden projects, green living and small business. He graduated from Saint Michael's College, earning a B.A. in political science with a minor in journalism and mass communications.