The height of the handrail should not be uniform throughout, but varied slightly within the limits of a few inches, so as to secure a graceful line at the changes of inclination.
The handrail should be higher on the landing, where the person using it is erect, than on the steps, where he will be inclining either forward or backward, according as he is ascending or descending the stairs.
[The height from the treads (at the nosings) to the upper surface of the handrail should be 2 feet 7½ inches ; to this there should be added at the landings the height of half a riser. - Newland.]
For winding stairs regard should be had, in adjusting the height of the rail, to the position of the person using it - who may be thrown farther from it, not only by the narrowness of the treads, but by the oblique position of the risers.
Nicholson recommends that the upper surface of the handrail should have a diameter of 2¼ inches; but the sizes vary greatly - 3 or 3½ inches by 2 or 2½ deep being common dimensions, while, for very important staircases, the handrail may be 6 X 4 inches, or even larger.
The different sections of handrails are distinguished by peculiar names, according to their shape, such as "Mopstick handrail," a nearly circular form; " Toad's back," which has a flatfish, curved upper surface, etc. etc.
This bar, C in Figs. 231, 232, is called a "core," and it is screwed down upon the heads of the balusters, and up to the under side of the handrail, as shown in the figure, which represents a piece of the horizontal portion of the handrail to a landing.
Fig. 232. Scale, 2 inches=1 foot.
The balusters supporting the inclined handrail over the steps nave their tops splayed to fit the lower surface of the rail. In common work the balusters are nailed to the handrail direct, without the intervention of a core.
A Wreathed Handrail is one which ascends in a continuous curve round a circular well hole, as in Fig. 214.
A Ramp is the sudden rise, concave in form, made by a handrail where it is stopped, as against the newel in Fig. 223.
A Knee is the convex part of the sudden rise in a handrail, as in Fig. 223.
A Swan Neck is a ramp and knee combined, being concave in one part and convex in another; see Fig. 223.
The method of setting out the handrailing for different forms of stairs is quite a science in itself, and is fully treated upon by Mr. Mayer in Newland's Carpenter's and Joiner's Assistant, whence many of the above hints have been taken, and to which the student must be referred if he should wish to pursue the subject farther.
Balusteks are intended to support the handrail and to prevent any one from falling over the ends of the steps.
They should not be more than about 5 inches apart.
They are sometimes vertical wooden bars, square, turned, or carved, according to the class of work.
An iron baluster of the same pattern as the wooden ones should be introduced at intervals (generally about 1 in every 10) to strengthen the whole.
Iron balusters are frequently used throughout.
Wooden balusters should be dovetailed into the treads of the steps, and secured to the handrail as above described.
The balusters are sometimes fixed to the outer string, being bent or kneed so as to clear the ends of the steps, in order to give as much width as possible to the stairs.1
Generally there are two balusters fixed on the end of each step - one hush, or as nearly as possible flush, with the face of the riser, the other midway between the risers.
On each of the narrow ends of winders one baluster only is required.