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I live in a New York apartment and want to use the loft bedroom for 4 year old daughter.

The stairs are wooden slats built into the wall but completely open on one side...there is no safety rail/guard. Due to how tight the space is, we need a safety rail that can be hinged down when we need to carry things up the stairs.

I was thinking of a piece of wood with a hinge that allows it to go straight up or down but lock in the up position. Hinges allow the wood to move up/down but only come out a few inches while happening. There is not enough room for something to swing down through 180 degrees, it needs to stay in a vertical plane but can move laterally a few inches while going up/down.

Can anyone suggest what is the name of the hinge I need or idea for where to look ?

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A photo would be immensely helpful. – Brian White Oct 11 '12 at 2:36
I have a concern that a movable railing could be installed but it would be very easy to forget to put it back into the up and locked position when one gets into a hurry. – Michael Karas Oct 11 '12 at 4:32

Why not consider that the times when you need to move big things up and down the narrow stairs would be seldom and under specifically controlled conditions. For example think of a strategy where you only have the rail open when moving furniture up and down from the loft. This strategy can put a whole different spin on the type of scheme that you could use for temporarily removing the railing.

One approach could be to build the railing unit up in one or two sections and then bolt it into place using lag bolts or hex head bolts and T-Nuts embedded into the "mount to" frame if the stairway.

Another approach could utilize a mounting that worked much like the stake pockets used for truck and wagon side boards. These brackets look something like this:

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This picture gives an idea of how these are utilized for trailer sides:

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A similar scheme could be used for your railing whereby the sections of the railing could be simply lifted up to take them out and away for the furniture moving scenario. For safety sake a screw could easily be added through the bracket into the post to prevent accidental lifting out.

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