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Making handrail columns

Posted: Fri Mar 26, 2021 5:17 pm
by Greg_Lewis
OK, folks, here's how I made my handrail columns. I think they'll work great if I can solve the conundrum I posted in another thread here. For dimensions I used a resource similar to what Dick posted over on my conundrum thread. I mostly faked it, though.

First I made up a threaded stud to hold the workpeices:

Then I made up the column blanks:

Then I roughed them in, with a smaller diameter at the top, which will be soldered into a hole in the ball:

Finish turning with a round nose tool and the compound set at an angle to give the taper:

Re: Making handrail columns

Posted: Fri Mar 26, 2021 5:24 pm
by Greg_Lewis
Then I ordered a bag of 1/4-inch diameter brass balls from McMaster, and made up this collet to hold them:

Here's one of the brass balls in the collet ready to be drilled for the smaller diameter section of the column:

Then the balls were soldered onto the column blanks. We don't need a photo of that. Then the columns were put back into the collet to have the hole for the handrail drilled. Note that the collet is stamped on the end to show where the #1 chuck jaw is. My 3-jaw, as most do, has some runout and I do this with any fixture I use in the 3-jaw:

Here's a column in the collet after drilling:

And the end result, with some stainless setscrews installed for the threaded attachment studs:
All done!

Re: Making handrail columns

Posted: Fri Mar 26, 2021 5:46 pm
by gwrdriver
Very nice work. And a good option. I considered using separate balls, and haven't entirely discarded the idea, but since I only have a dozen to do I'll put my radius turning tool to work.

Re: Making handrail columns

Posted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 11:36 am
by gwrdriver
I knocked off a couple of rough samples in aluminum (with my home-built radius attachment) and came up with these. The one on the left is a little too fat, and the ball is too big, and the one on the right is a little too skinny and the ball is a bit too small. I've sketched up one between the two that "looks about right."

So far I've done only large radii with the attachment so turning relatively small radii is new and taking a little experimentation. I'm also discovering it would benefit from a few modifications. Nothing significant . . . additional locations for the tommy bar, and adjustable stops for rotation would help.

The balls may look cantalope-shaped, they do to me even in person, but the light is doing tricks and they're perfectly round. Also, the post count has increased to 18+extras so the separate ball technique is quite done for yet.

Re: Making handrail columns

Posted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 11:56 am
by Glenn Brooks
Your collet idea is a master stroke! Very nice work!

Re: Making handrail columns

Posted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 1:50 pm
by gwrdriver
I agree. I knew I'd need to look around to see what others have devised for ball cross-drilling jigs and Greg has a good one.

I do have a question for Greg . . . when you mount a completed post post in the collet for cross-drilling I assume this isn't eyeballed perpendicular, that some accurate means of setting it perpendicular to the lathe axis is used, possibly milling the slot to a stop depth?

Re: Making handrail columns

Posted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 6:23 pm
by Greg_Lewis
Ayup. Here's a c.u. of the collet with a post in place:
By the way, I had to buy a bag of balls to get just a few and I've got a boatload left, more than I'll ever need. If you'd like a few, send me a PM and I'll send some. They're 1/4 dia.

Re: Making handrail columns

Posted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 11:18 pm
by Rich_Carlstedt
Late to the party , but did want to show another handrail stanchion design

25 years ago I did Lost Wax work and my friend Dick Thomas asked me to do some stanchions for him
I think I did a few hundred or so send them all to Dick, but just found 2 in a scrap basket that I want to share.
I am not sure where the design comes from ? and Dick sent me one Stanchion and one Cap and I made my Wax molds and trees with both parts
on the same feed ( Cap and post) . Here are two pictures showing both sides of the posts and caps . He had screws go through the caps and into the stanchion/post, and maybe into the sheet ???
These are reject castings and the ones he got were perfectly formed and without voids. Dick would cut them apart and trim all flashing
The posts had an offset ear , and the caps had a matching ear and the top side of the cap was C'Bored for a screw

Cap Bottom shown
Cap top shown

Re: Making handrail columns

Posted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 11:40 pm
by Greg_Lewis
Thanks, Rich. That's the logical way to make handrail posts. But I'm not sure Baldwin was completely logical considering the ball-ended posts they used in the early years. :lol: