Rustic porch railings are classically made out of found branches and pieces of wood, because that's what old ranchers and farmers had at their disposal to build their homes. They made sturdy, attractive railings that weren't necessarily smooth but worked as railings to lean and sit on for porches. Building them now creates a rustic look for any home, cabin or lodge, and assuming it works with the decor of the rest of the house can be a real addition to the porch.
Find the Branches
The branches will act as your wood for your porch railings. Gather them in the same manner you would pick out wood from a hardware store. Consider which pieces you will use for your braces and your legs and your cross braces, if you decide to build those. Some types of wood work better then others. Oak is usually a safe bet for a sturdy wood for the porch railings, as is cedar and, if you can find big enough branches, pine. In the Smokey Mountains region a branch like rhododendron makes a great porch railing option.
Decide how you will place the branches. Just because this is a porch railing doesn't mean it needs to necessarily be designed like a standard porch railing. For instance, if you have your main support branches picked out, other branches can be laid across each other at all angles, creating an artistic melee of cross beams, like the branches naturally fell into a pile as a front porch railing.
Attach the branches together with small nails or metal twine. Drill guide holes for the nails to go into or drill directly through the branches themselves for the metal twine to be able to run through smoothly. Make sure the metal twine is very strong and can be wrapped around each branch it is connecting a couple of times, to ensure it stays connected.
Attach the section of railing to the porch with nails or screws. Again, drill guide holes for nails or screws to go through. For more stability around the base of each railing section, use a spiral of nails on each leg of the porch railing.
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