Ultimate Handyman DIY Home decking handrail fixing

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Decking handrail fixing can be accomplished in a few different ways, some of which are better than the other. Here we are going to look at three different ways of fixing the handrail to the decking.




Bracket fixing

This handrail has been fixed with a galvanised angle bracket. This looks very cheap and unprofessional. Fixing a handrail this way is a sure way to make your decking look very cheap and unprofessional.



Dowel screw

Dowel screw fixing.

This method can be used if you are fitting the spindles to the handrails once the handrail is in position, but if you intend to fasten the spindles to the handrail first and then fasten the handrail and spindles into position then this method is not really suitable as you need to fix the handrail and the newel post at the same time. This method will be looked at below.



Plug cutter The easiest way to fix handrails is by using a plug cutter kit to make a plug to conceal the screw hole. This will be described in detail below.



I prefer to build the hand rail and spindles all at once as it can be much easier than trying to skew nail them in position.

Fitting spindles can be seen here.



Dowel screw fixing


Dowel screw

A dowel screw fixing has a machine screw thread on one side of the screw and a wood thread on the other side of the screw.

Mark where the handrail will be positioned and then drill a hole into the newel post and screw in the dowel screw fixing.


Hinge drill Where the handrail meets the newel post a hole will require cutting out using a hinge cutting bit. This can be done with either a router or a pillar drill. Ensure that the depth stop is set so that the drill does not come out of the top of the handrail.


Dowel screw

A hole then needs drilling in the end of the handrail. The handrail can then be pushed over the dowel screw and the nut can be tightened.

Using this method has some drawbacks and is time consuming. Using a wood screw and plug is much better in my opinion.


Using a plug cutter kit

screw digger
A plug cutter kit comprises of a screw digger (left) which is used to make a hole for the screw and a plug cutter (right) which is used to cut a small wooden plug that fits into the hole that the screw digger has made. This is a great way to conceal screw heads.
plug cutter


Drill with screw digger Mark the position of the handrail onto the newel post and then drill straight through with the correct size drill bit, then drill the hole again with the screw digger, this will make an hole that is the exact right size to accept the wooden plug that is made by the plug cutter.


Plug cutter hole Here is the hole that has been made by the screw digger. You can now position the handrail and screw straight through the post and into the handrail.


Cut plug with plug cutter

You will need a pillar drill to cut the plug as it is not really practical with a hand drill.

We are cutting the plug from the off cut of timber from the bottom of the newel post, the plug only needs to be about 5mm deep.

Clamp the wood down firmly as the plug cutter is difficult to start. Slowly cut out the plug.



Apply glue Apply a little external wood glue to the plug and then tap it into the hole.


Finished plug Here is the finished plug, this will blend in perfectly with the newel post once it has all been treated.