How to Install a Volute & Spindle Banister


Although the thought of installing a volute and spindle banister may seem intimidating, it isn’t a daunting home improvement project. In fact, on the home improvement project scale ranging from one to 10, installing a banister typically rates a four, according to "This Old House." Thus, installing a volute and spindle banister may be a job that you don’t have to pay a professional contractor to do. A volute consists of the “S” shape or circled swirl at the end of a handrail with approximately five spindles supporting it. The spindles, also called balusters, are the decorative, slender sections connecting the handrail to the steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Saw
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Dowels
  • Spindles
  • Volute
  • Hardwood trim nails
  • Up-ramp
  • Curtail step
  • Newel post
  • Hammer
  • Mallet

Spindle Installation

  • Measure the diameter of the spindle. Drill a hole in the tread for the pre-made pins located at the bottom of the spindles. Repeat on each step for the number of spindles you’re installing.

  • Use a metal tape measure to find the spindle’s length then use a bevel gauge to find the angle. Each spindle’s length varies depending on the staircase’s slant and decorative detail. For example, you may have two tall spindles followed by two short ones. Repeat.

  • Cut the spindles to size using a saw. Drill a one-inch hole into the bottom of the spindle. Insert a tenon in each of the mortise.

  • Spread carpenter’s glue around the top of the spindle twice. Install the spindles between the tread and the handrail. You want to secure spindle with approximately two two-inch hardwood trim nails. Repeat until all the spindles are installed.

  • Nail the tread return onto the tread to complete the spindle instillation. You want to use two and-a-half inch hardwood trim nails. Coat the nail heads with putty.

Volute Installation

  • Use a dowel screw set to connect the up-ramp to the end of the volute. If the up-ramp is too long once you’ve joined the two pieces, cut it down to size using a pitch board. Place the up-ramp on the underside of the pitch board then mark the area you don’t need with an “X.” Turn the pitch board upside down and insert the up-ramp. Cut the excess portion off.

  • Line the spindle with the corresponding hole in the volute. You want to find the spindle size you need to connect the spindle to and volute together. Repeat the process to find correct size for the other spindles. Cut spindles to the approximate size.

  • Use a cutter to drill a hole into the curtail step. Insert the volute newel.

  • Remove the handrail. Insert each spindle into the tread like you did with the other balusters on the banister. Secure the spindles with carpenter’s glue.

  • Use a mallet to gently tap the handrail and volute onto the spindles.


  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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