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Stringer newel – Determine the stringer shoulder line.

Introduction.

The newel position is an important part of getting the spindles to be able to sit in the correct position while maintaining the correct spacing between them and the newel posts.

This is also important when setting the landing nosing position especially when the handrail exits the flight at 90º to the flight.

The spindle size is even more important to to predetermine when newels are being used on a cut string staircase; as without this knowledge the spindles may end up leaning at an angle or be set at the wrong position on the tread and be overhanging the stringer face.

Oak Turned newels.
Oak Turned newels.

Finding the stringer shoulder line.

The calculations for setting the newel post postion will be the same at both ends of the stringer.

The only difference will be that: At the bottom of the flight you will use the back of the newel post as the shoulder line, at the top of the flight you will use the front face of the newel post as the shoulder line.

Finding stringer shoulder position.
Finding stringer shoulder position.

Simply put.

Bottom of flight.

  1. From the riser face measure back across the going 1/2 a spindles width.
  2. From this point, measure back 1/2 the newel posts width.

Top of flight.

  1. From the riser face measure back across the landing nosing 1/2 a spindles width.
  2. From this point, measure forward 1/2 the newel posts width.

simply put.
The stringer shoulder line positions.

Choose your spindle.

Before we can do anything we need to know the spindle size, we can then set the spindle in its correct position on the tread and set the newel post position from the spindle centre line position.

The fascia position will align with the face of the last riser in the flight.

using a thinner spindle will allow the use of a smaller newel without the nosing from the treads and landings protruding outside off the post in an awkward looking manner.

This is of course if you use traditional nosings that project in front of the riser by the thickness of the nosing.
With a 35mm or 1 3/8″ spindle we can use an ex 4″ or 100mm newel comfortably, when using a 1 3/4″ or 44mm spindle the nosing will project outside the newel post by about 1/4″ or 6mm, this leaves a small bit of nosing that just looks odd.

In this diagram you can see how the newel aligns when setting out for: 1 3/8″ – 35mm spindle.
1 1/8″ – 28mm Tread.
ex 4″ – 100mm Newel post.
You can see here that the nosing stays within the newel post.

35mm spindle/newel align
35mm spindle newel align

Newel post with larger spindles.

With the larger spindle the newel moves farther into the landing and therefore the newel face also moves farther towards the landing area.

In this image you can see how the nosing protrudes outside of the newel when we use a larger spindle.

In this situation, it is generally better to use a larger newel post to keep the spindle within the newel area.

In this diagram we have changed to:
1 3/4″ – 45mm spindle.
1 1/8″ – 28mm Tread.
ex 4″ – 100mm Newel post.

This would be further exagerated if we were to use a 35mm or 1 3/8″ tread thickness as this would increase the nosing projection by a farther 16mm or 5/8″.

44mm spindle newel align
44mm spindle newel align

Adjusting the newel position for larger spindles.

As shown above, when a larger spindle is used the nosing may be set forward of the newel post,

This may not be a desirable look especially at the entrance hall or ground floor level.

In these situations we can use the additional size in the newel turn as opposed to that of the spindle turned section.

We will use the space between turns rather than the spindle centre lines to get the newel position.

The stringer shoulder cut and tenon formed.

In the example I have used the 35mm spindle set up. Here you can see the end of the stringer with the shoulder cut and the tenon formed.

Stringer with shoulder line cut and tenon formed
Stringer with shoulder line

The stringer shoulder at the starting newel.

The tenon and shoulder line are formed in the same way at the starting newel post, when this post is on the ground floor you do not need to worry about the position of the landing fascia.

It is still good practice to set the centre of the newel to the same postion as the centre of the spindle would sit, this ensures that the spacing between the first spindle that is set half way back along the going is still close enogh to maintain the legal minimum space between it and the newel turn.


When choosing a position for the tread it is advisable to keep in mind the position of the draw dowel that will be behind the first riser, it is also good practice to allow room for the riser wedge to be cut into the newel, should this not be practical then the bottom riser may be screwed through the back and into the newel at an angle to ensure it does not come through the face of the riser or break out through the face of the newel post itself.

Closed string newel post together.
Staring newel post fitted to stringer.

The bottom stringer shoulder at a landing newel.

When the newel is set on a landing, the tread position will be determined as at the top of the flight, these are not individual flights but one continuous flight with the landing being thought of as a large tread.

without this in mind the stairs may not connect properly.

In this diagram, you can see the setting out for the landing nosing and the first tread of the upper flight.
From this information you can determine the stringer shoulder line. In this example we will be using;
1 3/8″ – 35mm spindle.
1 1/8″ – 28mm Tread.
ex 4″ – 100mm Newel post.

The landing newel and bottom stringer.
The landing newel and bottom stringer.
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