Replacing round balusters with square ones

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Old 08-18-16, 09:46 AM
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Replacing round balusters with square ones

I'm looking to replace the old wooden round balusters on my stairs with square ones. The new square balusters have a post at bottom that will fit into the tenon OK but the holes in the banister are round so the square baluster is not going to fit.

My initial plan was to simply miter the top of square baluster to angle of staircase and then screw or nail it in to banister. However, the holes in banister are pretty big and the square baluster will just about cover them so getting a nail into actual banister and not the hole will be difficult. I figured my other options are:

1. Square the holes so the baluster fits in. Con here is I'm not very experienced, probably don't have the proper tools to do this, and definitely don't want to have to remove the entire banister.

2. Fill in the hole i.e. cut a dowel and glue/screw it in and then nail the mitered baluster in.

3. Cut a small piece of dowel and screw it into top of square baluster so it fits in to banister hole. Hopefully I'd be able to fit the baluster in without have to remove banister or end piece of step.

Am I on the right track with any of these or should I be doing this differently?

Thanks/
 
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Old 08-18-16, 10:34 AM
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While I've never built a stair case I've finished 100's of them. If I remember correctly with the square balusters they use 1/4" oak [or whatever wood is appropriate] as a spacer between the balusters [under the handrail] The top of the balusters are toe nailed in place.

One of the carpenters should be along later and if they tell you different - listen to them!
 
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Old 08-18-16, 11:23 AM
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Does your railing meet current code? Not sure if this modification would require you to bring it up but I would guess you have not pulled a permit for any work being done at the moment so it may not matter.
 
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Old 08-18-16, 11:48 AM
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I don't know if stairwell is up to code and no, I hadn't planned on pulling any permits. That said, I obviously want to do the job right so it's safe.

I was essentially following the instructions found here (my stairwell looks just like that one). Unfortunately, that page doesn't address any existing holes in the underside of banister.
 
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Old 08-25-16, 10:39 AM
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A spacer (shoe) is usually used when the handrail is plowed. Here is a photo of a spacer glued in place after the balusters were pinned. In this case I replaced round balusters but I also replaced the rail.

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In your case, I would probably miter and dowel the top end of the baluster. If you do that, drill the dowel holes square to the top of the baluster before you miter them. You will probably have to loosen the handrail to glue the dowels in place.
 
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Old 08-25-16, 04:14 PM
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Thanks. I ended up just doing a miter cut, using some glue and putting two nails in. It looks pretty good and seems sturdier than it was before (whoever lived in the house before did a worse job than me!)

I have not yet done the bottom baluster though as the railing is not a proper straight angle at that point but rather more of a slope before it angles up. What's the best way to cut the baluster so it fits that slope? Would I just miter as close as possible and then sand it fit the slope? It seems like it's going to look strange to have all straight angle balusters up the railing and then one sloped one at bottom..

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Old 08-26-16, 03:38 AM
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As long as all the balusters are parallel and spaced evenly I doubt it would look strange. I'd cut the baluster to match the 2 high points of the handrail and then use the nose of a belt sander to cut the radius. Not sure you could do a neat enough job with a jig saw although a band saw would probably do good.
 
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Old 08-26-16, 06:54 AM
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Cut with a coping saw

I might try to use a contour gauge and then cut it with a coping saw. It's only one baluster.
 
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