For anyone that is interested, it's very easy to build your own replacement wood railing. I've mocked up a piece of spruce (2x3 I had lying around) and I think it turned out very good. I'm moving on to Mahogany next week and will make ~40' of it.

The best fit was achieved with:

- Cut the blank to 2 5/16" wide x 1 5/16" high

- Use a 3/4" radius round over on the two top corners

- Use a 1/2" radius round over on the two bottom corners

- Light hand sand the 3/32" flat spot left on each side to blend it in

This leaves maybe 1/32 - 1/16" for the coats of finish to bring it perfectly flush with the gate hardware. Doing this made me realize just how much material had been removed from the original railings over the years.

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Steve,

Great work!  This would make a great write up for the library files, now that you have it figured out.

Did you use a bearing on the round-over bits?  If so, was there enough space for the bearing in the flat spot to run the bit?

Have you tried a curved piece yet?  Do you think you will need a template to make the curved piece?

How about a pic of the bits used?

-Darin

For curved sections I think you'd want to use the old railing to shape the blank. In my case I'm only doing the (mostly) straight sections as the front curved ones are in good shape. That said, the first 10' is perfectly straight but the next 13' (closer to the front) is slightly curved. Over the 13' it curves about 1"; without much stress, I can bend the old railing straight, so my hope is the new one will make the bend once fastened to the stanchions. If not I'll template them.

I'm using African Mahogany, it's the closest in colour to the original Philippine (I was told this is what was used). 6/4 raw lumber for ~50' of railing will run ~ $270 USD, so the cost is not bad either.

The bits I used had flush bearings. I ran the top (3/4") first and then the bottom (1/2"). In both cases the bearings had enough material to easily run on.

Here are the bits:

Steve,

Thanks for taking the additional pictures of the bits and walking through the process.  Can't wait to see the results.

-Darin

Steve said:

For curved sections I think you'd want to use the old railing to shape the blank. In my case I'm only doing the (mostly) straight sections as the front curved ones are in good shape. That said, the first 10' is perfectly straight but the next 13' (closer to the front) is slightly curved. Over the 13' it curves about 1"; without much stress, I can bend the old railing straight, so my hope is the new one will make the bend once fastened to the stanchions. If not I'll template them.

I'm using African Mahogany, it's the closest in colour to the original Philippine (I was told this is what was used). 6/4 raw lumber for ~50' of railing will run ~ $270 USD, so the cost is not bad either.

The bits I used had flush bearings. I ran the top (3/4") first and then the bottom (1/2"). In both cases the bearings had enough material to easily run on.

Here are the bits:

The new wood has arrived! 50' of African mahogany. $136 for the wood, $75 shop fee to joint, plane and cut to size. Now I need to work on joints and possibly putting a bit of a bend in it.

Steve,

Where did you get the wood?   Noah's?   The price seems quite reasonable.

Warren

Steve said:

The new wood has arrived! 50' of African mahogany. $136 for the wood, $75 shop fee to joint, plane and cut to size. Now I need to work on joints and possibly putting a bit of a bend in it.

@Warren - I got the wood at Exotic Woods in Burlington. The prices above are USD, I figured a lot of the readers here are US based so I converted it. Even so, it's really reasonable.

I do wish I could find air dried (or >20% moisture) instead of kiln dried, because steam bending would work much better - but 90% of the wood I've found is kiln dried.

Wow that looks good! Holy hell.

I have one section of railing that looks like it was damaged in a docking incident and it’s full of filler that doesn’t match. Would you ever consider doing this for other club members, I’d obviously compensate you for your expertise and materials. I can’t find anyone locally who would even attempt this. There is a company that sells railing sections for Hatteras boats but they’re a different size and shape and they wouldn’t make mine.

Let's see how mine finish up. I'm happy to run it through, I think shipping would be expensive depending on the required length. I'm also curious to see how closely the wood matches - I'm doing a large section, and I'm using Cetol Natural Teak, which adds a bit of colour so I think I'll be okay. If I'm not, and I have luck bending, I'll replace the forward sections next season.

Chris Wickersham said:

Wow that looks good! Holy hell.

I have one section of railing that looks like it was damaged in a docking incident and it’s full of filler that doesn’t match. Would you ever consider doing this for other club members, I’d obviously compensate you for your expertise and materials. I can’t find anyone locally who would even attempt this. There is a company that sells railing sections for Hatteras boats but they’re a different size and shape and they wouldn’t make mine.

I've had a little experience in bending wood.  I had great luck steaming and clamping to a jig.  after a day or so when you remove the clamps it will spring back some, but not as much as you'd think.  i couldn't find any pictures of my setup (its been a while), but here's a sketch:

Attachments:

I've got a small steam box, but it's only 5' long. I will be using  a similar setup, but instead of PVC I'll use a 6 mil clear poly tube. That will enable me to steam and clamp in one step. Of course I've never steamed a 2 1/2" thick board, and kiln dried at that. I'll take some pictures of the process (and hope it works!).

Mark struebing said:

I've had a little experience in bending wood.  I had great luck steaming and clamping to a jig.  after a day or so when you remove the clamps it will spring back some, but not as much as you'd think.  i couldn't find any pictures of my setup (its been a while), but here's a sketch:

Here is an update on the progress of my railing project.

The forward 8' of railing required a very slight curve so I steam bent them on the jig in a 6mil, 8" poly tube. I left them steam for 2 1/2 hours.

Then I needed to create hook scarf joints to make long sections. I made a simple jig to make the angle with a router and finished the hook at 30 degrees with a miter saw, hand saw and chisel. I did this on the straight edge blanks.

The jig:

Routed raining blank in the jig:

Example of joint:

Joint together:

After the joints are created, I ran the parts through the router as described above. After some sanding by hand, I epoxied the joints together, held them together with 316 stainless wood screws and covered the screws with epoxied in plugs.

The next morning I sanded the excess epoxy and had very nice long sections of railing. The longest one here is just under 23'. Any imperfections in the joints were filled with epoxy mixed with wood dust. You can barely see the joints.

Very nice!

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