How to Build Log Railings

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How to build log railings
How to build log railings (Image: log pile image by Mashroom from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Log railing can be installed inside or out. Log railings are found on porches, decks, staircases and loft areas. Many log home material suppliers provide log rail kits as well as dimensional log material for the "do it yourself" person. Savings up to 50 percent can be obtained if you are willing to build the sections from these basic materials. Only a few specialized tools are needed to obtain a professional result. This process is for building railing using posts, top and bottom rails and log balusters.

Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper and pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Miter saw
  • Drill
  • Forstner bit
  • Tenon cutter
  • Caulking gun
  • Construction adhesive
  • Bar clamps
  • Ratchet strap

Draw the project on a sheet of graph paper. Measure the area you want to install the log railing and plot it on your plan. Include post locations for corners, ends and spans over 10 feet in length.

Decide what dimensional log railing materials you wish to use. Posts are normally 7 to 10 inches in diameter with the railing between 3 and 4 inches. Two inch log balusters are common.

Using timber screws or lag bolts, secure the log posts in place. Measure the distance between each post. Cut the log rails four inches longer than that measurement to allow the rail to enter the post. Use a miter saw to cut the railing material to the proper length.

Line up the railing in pairs according to each section. Measure and find the center of the rails and mark with a pencil. Make corresponding marks every six inches on each side of the rails until you come to the ends. Make sure the marks are lined up with each other. Using a drill and a 1 1/2 inch Forstner bit, drill the rail holes one inch deep. A Forstner bit has two blades in the center and a cylindrical cutter on the outside edge. This bit creates a large round hole with a flat bottom.

Check local building codes to determine the height requirement of the railing. Cut the balusters to length taking the rail dimensions under consideration. Most railings must be 36 inches tall and no more than 4 inches from the floor to the bottom of the lower rail.

Using a drill and a Tenon cutter, shape each end of the balusters from 2 inches to 1 1/2 inches. Using a caulking gun with a tube of glue, place a dab of construction adhesive in each hole in the rail and insert the balusters into the top and bottom rail. An extra set of hands is necessary to keep the assembly together. Install 3 inch deck screws from the bottom of the lower rail through the ends of the balusters to hold it together. These screws will not be visible after final installation. Use bar clamps to hold the section in place and allow it to dry.

Measure each end of the railing sections from the center of the top rail to the center of the bottom rail. Measure each log post and make a mark allowing the rail to be positioned four inches from the bottom. Make another mark for the top rail. Using a drill and Forstner bit or hole saw, drill a hole two inches deep. Place a dab of construction adhesive into the holes and slide the rail section into place. Use clamps or ratchet strap to hold into place until dry. Repeat as necessary.

Apply final finish as desired.

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