Previous Home Next
The Pièce de RailingThursday, August 11, 2011
Next on the list of deck tasks was the construction and installation of the railings. I guess that this should be a moderately easy task, but what I've come up with is likely far from it. The plan calls for a series of 4x4 Ipe posts connected to 2x4 Ipe railings with bronze-anodized aluminum balusters, topped by 1x6 Ipe. And here it is!

Well, okay. This is going to take some work. The first step was cutting the 4x4 posts down to length and sealing the ends.

Now let's begin with the 3-post section that will go at the end of the deck. I began by drilling (7/16") and counterboring (1") two holes near the the bottom end of each post for the bolts that will hold the post to the deck stringers. Sure hope they're in the right spots!

Then it was time to prep the railings. Though I honestly can't remember my exact reasoning, last year I decided that I wanted to attach the railings to the posts using a method called "loose-tenon" joinery. Similar to the method I've used to assemble the workbenches in the basement, this is accomplished by boring holes or slots in both members, then inserting a tightly-fitting tenon between the two. This has no fasteners, which is pretty cool. It's not that easy, which isn't so cool. But it's fun! Here's the BeadLock jig I bought for this purpose, getting ready for drilling the mortise in the end of one of the rails:

And complete with an inserted tenon

Then boring the mortise on the side of one of the rails:

The next major step was getting ready to attach the aluminum balusters to the railings. Because this Ipe is so hard, I have to pre-drill everything, including here. So I set up a fence on the drill press and went to town:

And here's a completed rail section!

With a big sigh of relief, I was happy to note that the mortises for both rails actually lined up with the mortises on the post. Horray for accurate measurements!

And assembled:

(makes me realize that I could probably build a bed if I have to)

Next, it's time to figure out how, exactly, this is going to get attached to the deck. Fortunately, I never attached the end deck board, so this section is going to be a bit easier (for the rest I'm going to have to saw out notches in the boards). Starting with the middle post, I drilled a pair of 1/2" diameter holes and bolted the post to the face board.

Okay, now what? Given that this wood is crazy-heavy, I had to find some way to support the railing while attaching the next post, and was very pleased to find that the deck-to-railing spacing matches the post thickness perfectly, allowing me to use an extra post to hold everything in place. I added a bit of glue to the tenons, hammered everything together, and here's the first rail section in place!

And continuing the other way, we've completed the first pièce de railing:

Previous Home Next
blog comments powered by Disqus