The building of stairs with stair parts, baluster, spindles and newel posts and properly making and placing over them a graceful handrail and suitable balusters and newel posts is one of the greatest achievements of the joiner's art and skill, yet it is an art that is the least understood of any of the constructive processes, that the carpenter or joiner is called upon to accomplish. In but very few of the plans made by an architect are the stairs properly laid down or divided off; indeed, most of the stairs as laid out and planned by the architect, are impossible ones owing to the fact that the circumstances that govern the formation of the rail are either not understood, or not noticed by the designor; and the expert handrailer often finds it difficult to conform the stairs and rail to the plan. Generally, however, he gets so close to it that the character of the design is seldom changed.
The stairs fitted with carved stair parts, baluster, spindles and newel posts, and handrail
are the great feature of a building, as they are the first object that meets the visitor and claims his attention, and it is essential, therefore, that the stair and its adjuncts should have a neat and graceful appearance, and this can only be accomplished by having the rail properly made and set up.
It is proposed to give such instructions in the art of handrailing fitting as will enable the young workman to build a stair baluster rail so that it will assume a handsome appearance when set in place. There are eleven distinct styles of stairs shown, but the same principle that governs the making of the simplest rail, governs the construction of the most difficult, so, having once mastered the simple problems in this system, progress in the art will become easy, and a little study and practice will enable the workman to construct a rail for the most tortuous stairway.
A knowledge of geometry is not required in the study of this system, but it would aid the workman materially if he possessed a knowledge of that science, and where possible he should avail himself of acquiring as much knowledge of geometry as possible, not only for the study of handrailing but nearly every branch of the building trade.
The progressive lessons given herewith will, I am sure, be of great assistance to stair-builders using Guild stair parts, baluster, spindles and newel posts and handrail already engaged in the business and to the young aspiring mechanic, anxious to master every branch, of his trade and to penetrate all its mysteries. This system will open a hitherto sealed book, especially to, the young man whose knowledge of geometry may be rather limited. There will be no labyrinthic network of lines to torment and confuse the student, nothing but what is absolutely necessary to obtain the face moulds and bevels for marking and working the wreaths. The figures from 1 to 11 show flights of stairs of various shapes and forms, and cover all the examples the workman will ever likely be called upon to build. At any rate, if he should have to construct a form of stairs not shown in these examples, the knowledge gained by a study of these presented will enable him to wrestle with other forms, no matter what their plans may be. The only form of stair for Guild carved stair parts, baluster, spindles and newel posts and handrail not shown that the student may be called upon to build would very likely be flights having an elliptical plan, but as this form is so seldom used, and then only in public buildings or great mansions, it seldom falls to the lot of the ordinary workman to be called upon to design or construct them. However, to provide for such a contingency a method of laying out and constructing a handrail will be illustrated and described at the close of this treatise.
Stair Parts Fig. 1. exhibits the plan of a straight stair with an ordinary cylinder at the top, provided for a return tail, on the landing. It also shows a lengthened step at the starting.
Stair Parts Fig. 2. shows a plan of a stair with a landing and return steps.
Stair Parts Fig. 3. shows a plan with an acute angular landing and cylinder
Stair Parts Fig. 4. shows the same kind of stair as Fig. 3, only being at an obtuse angle
Stair Parts Fig. 5. exhibits a stair having a half-turn with two risers on landings
Stair Parts Fig. 6. shows a pan with a quarter-space stair with four winders
Stair Parts Fig. 7 is the plan of a stair similar to Fig. 6, but having seven winders
Stair Parts Fig. 8 shows the plan of a stair having five “dancing winders”
Stair Parts Fig. 9 is the plan of a half-space stair having five “dancing winders” and a quarter-space landing.
Stair Parts Fig. 10 shows the plan of a half-space stair with “dancing winders” all around the cylinder
Stair Parts Fig. 11 shows the plan of a geometrical stair having winders all around the cylinder.