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I have an old staircase with winders, so if I want 32 inches between handrail and nose of stairs, I'm going to have to cut some angles.

If the overall run of the handrails is going to be about 180 inches, and I'm cutting a 17 degree miter about 40 inches from the top, how would you securely join the two pieces? Options I've considered:

  • wood glue and finishing nails. I've done this for the returns, but one doesn't expect a lot of load on the returns, right?
  • some kind of rail bolt, like this one
  • dowels, though I'm nervous about getting close alignment on a mitered join.
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A spline across that miter would work very well to reinforce it. Depending on the thickness of the rail, you could even use two.

This is very similar to this question

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In the end I went with the spring bolt plus wood glue. I have no doubt that a spline would have worked well, but I wanted something hidden from view.

The first spring bolt failed: I might have over-tightened it, or I might have not waited long enough for the glue to set. Second spring bolt held better.

handrail with joint near top

It's been 4 days and so far it's solid. The spring bolt technique suffers from the same problem of dowels or biscuts: without a jig it's challenging to get the two pieces perfectly flush.

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