How to Replicate Antique Staircase Balusters | Ask This Old House

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In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner by hand-carving a new rope baluster for their ornate Queen Anne home’s staircase.

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Ornate staircases—particularly those in older homes—can be difficult to repair. Their ornate and custom touches are difficult to replicate, and it often takes a true craftsperson to replicate balusters and moldings. General contractor Tom Silva is just the person for the job, helping one Queen Anne homeowner replace a baluster with a hand-carved replica.

Where to find it?

Tom helps a homeowner missing original spiral detailed spindles from their staircase by hand-turning
replicas on a lathe [].

Then he traces the profile of the original baluster onto a manilla folder [] with a scribing compass []. Tom then cuts out the profile of the baluster with scissors [].

Tom measures and marks [] the center portion of the baluster in equal increments.

He uses the parting tool [] for low points of the spindle details.

Then, Tom uses the spindle gouge [] to carve into tighter areas.

He uses the skew chisel [] to carve into the larger areas of the spindle and to round out the edges.

Tom uses a hand saw [] to cut slots in the spindle following the traced out lines from the string [].

He uses a rasp [] to file down the edges of the saw cuts until each section has a rounded edge.

Tom then applies a wax-free gel shellac [] to the spindles to match the existing ones.

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Wood blank []
Manila paper []
Landscaping string []
Sandpaper []
Wax-free shellac []
Gel stain []
Dowel []

Scribes []
Scissors []
Tape measure []
Lathe []
Assortment of turning chisels []
Calipers []
Backsaw []
Rasp []
Coping saw []

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About Ask This Old House TV:
From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. ASK This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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How to Replicate Antique Staircase Balusters | Ask This Old House

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