DIY Newel Replacement

Written by john landers | 13/05/2017
DIY Newel Replacement
Staircase with newel posts (wooden staircase image by Heng kong Chen from

A DIY newel replacement presents an opportunity to add your personal touch to an existing staircase. The newel post is the vertical component located at the beginning of the handrail. Newel posts are made in various styles such as Victorian, colonial, baroque and contemporary. Some common shapes include turned, square or square with an assortment of caps. Choose virtually any species of wood and finish the newel with paint or stain to blend with any decor


Newel posts must be safe and of sound construction. The placement of the balusters and the technique employed to secure the handrail are minor factors when it comes to mounting the newel. The primary factor used to determine how to secure a replacement newel post is whether the newel is "turned" solid or "box" or hollow.

Turned Newel Installation

One method of installing a turned newel, which is typically made of solid wood, is to secure the post to an aluminium bracket fastened to the tread or floor. Level the post and make sure that it is straight. Use wood shims as necessary to align the post. You may be required to cut the wood trim that goes around the base to the proper measurements. Use a series of 45-degree angle cuts to join the trim around the base.

In some cases, you may need to cut grooves in the wood so that the trim fits over the bracket. Use either a router or a table saw with a dado blade. Measure the height of the bracket and determine where the bracket will fall on the trim. Apply carpenter's adhesive to join the components. Reinforce the base by securing it to the newel post with 18 gauge nails.

Or, fasten the replacement newel in place with a lag bolt. Mark the spot for the newel post. Drill the hole in the floor joist through the centre of the post location. Insert the lag bolt. Drill a hole 5 inches deep through the bottom of the post and fit the post over the bolt. Secure the washer and nut through the side access hole on the post.

Hollow Newel Installation

Mark the four corners of the newel post, but make sure that it is level and straight. Apply a thick bead of carpenter's glue. Check the post for plumb and shim as necessary. Secure the post to the floor with six trim head screws angled toward the floor. Once you're satisfied with the positioning, fill the screw holes with wood filler.

A common fastening technique is to fix the post to 2-by-2 inch stock mounted to the floor. Simply cut the boards for a snug fit around the inside perimeter of the hollow newel post. Do not make the fit too tight because the newel must mount over the planks. Secure the board to the floor with glue and nails. Put carpenter's glue on the floor and the outer edges of the 2-by-2 inch material. Place the newel over the boards and check for level and plumb. Insert nails to reinforce the anchoring.

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