So, we bought this 1895 house about 2 years ago, and have been renovating ever since... Bathrooms, Kitchen, exterior, etc.. :)

Last (big) project is the refinishing of the floors. Right now, I am working on the stairs, so far so good.

I would like to refinish the stair railing. It would be much easier, if I could take them apart, but dont know if this can be done, without destroying the whole thing..

I looked closely at the spindles, it looks to me as if at the top, they are just plugged into the hand rail, but how are they attached at the bottom, more importantly, how can I remove them ?

On the attached pictures, of the bottom of the spindles, it looks like 2 holes were plugged, could this be where they nailed the spindles to the bottom rail ?

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Your railing is easy to remove but you will need to be careful.  The top is like a dowel fitted into a hole drilled into the hand rail.  It may or may not be toe nailed.  Looks like the bottom is held in place with 2 finish nails, counter set and filled with colored wood filler.  To remove these you will need to start at the bottom and tap with a block and a hammer.  Wrap the block with a cloth padding.  Tap toward the bottom and the spindles should just come out. Pull out the nails through the side  against the base so the spindle doesn't splinter pounding the nail back out. When finished put them back in the same way starting at the top.  Good idea to make a wood stop so all the spindles are the same distance apart.

Lair's advice is on the money.  But that said, your pictures show railings and spindles that I would not want to refinish even if I was redoing the floors.  Maybe there are some real problem areas not shown in the pictures, but a little wear that shows the age is not a problem for me.

My comment certainly will not answer your question, but.......I would not take the potential chance of breaking the spindles when the current finish on the wood is so very nice.  It does not appear that refinishing is needed.  If you are concerned with what appears to be some residue in the joints, I would think that cleaning with the appropriate solvent would work.

Thank you for your answers, much appreciated !

So, I took a close look again, and you are right, the spindles really just need a good cleaning. I'd rather have them in a satin finish, instead of the glossy one they have right now, but it would be a LOT of work... So,I will hold off on that for now, and just fix and refinish the posts. The finish on them is worn, to the bare wood in some spots, and the wood is dirty..., Also, they are splitting, so I will have to somehow inject glue, and clamp the together again.

In the first picture you can also see what the stairs looked like before.. Over the years they had been painted, then some kind of anti-slip covering was added, and in the end they had  been carpeted over... after removing the carpet and padding,I had to remove a whole bunch of staples and nails, and then sand forever, to get all that gunk off, and get to bare wood, which I could than stain & refinish... A lot of work, but worth it, they turned out really nice, I think.


Very nice job on the stair treads.  With a little work on the newel post your staircase will look lovely.

And, congratulations on your accomplishments in only 2 years.  That is a relatively short amt of time for a house can be very proud of your work.


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