Our friends from Summit Structures asked Tom to fabricate this custom metal handrail on location at a new house they were building. The handrail was built on a radius staircase so it took a little more work than usual to acquire the correct bends.
The first thing Tom did was to set the upright posts in line with the radius wall. Next, he bent the square tubing in a radius. Tom used a Shop Outfitters 238 Ring Roller after a slight modification in the ring roller. He removed a bushing out to allow the steel tubing to fit through. He also made some different idler rollers for the ring roller as well. He was then able to roll 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch square tubing through the ring roller. He had to make several passes through the ring roller with his square tubing in order to get the desired radius on the steel. He was only able to bend a little at a time. An application like this is slightly hard on the ring roller, so anyone attempting this sort of use should be sure he has the machine set properly.
When building a handrail along a curved stairway one trick is worth noting. When welding in the top and bottom rails to the upright posts a twist needs to be formed into the rails. When tubing goes up in a radius it should twist to gain the desired effect when tying the handrail into the upright posts. Tom accomplished the twist by taking each handrail and placing them into a vice. Using a 48 inch pipe wrench he put a 6 degree twist into the upper and lower rails before attaching them to the posts.
Next, Tom welded the pickets between each post. He purchased the pre-twisted metal pickets at Orleans Ornamental Iron. Pickets were necessary for the metal handrail because building code usually requires that a guardrail be in place if the stairway has more than a 30 inch drop. The metal pickets were first cut to the proper angle and then welded by spacing them so that nothing smaller than a 4 inch sphere can fit between them.
Tom fashioned metal ends to finish off the metal handrail. The decorative ends were designed to tie in the vertical uprights to the radius tubes that go up the staircase. Tom used a Shop Outfitters 20/20 compact bender using 1.5 by .25 inch flat steel stock.
The last touch was to prep the handrail for paint. Tom rubbed the handrail down with acetone to remove a lot of the oils in the tubing. He then scrubbed the handrail down with a soap and water solution with scotch-bright pads. Finally, he painted the project black.
Most of the metal handrail had to be fashioned onsite.