Instructables

How to Build a Simple Handrail

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Handrails are apart of our life. The government has made sure of that :-)
This is a simple hand rail that we built for our friend Bill to meet code. You might need something similar to meet a required building code or just for general safety purposes. I know there's a lot of discussion on this site about making things as cost effective as possible.. that's fine, just make sure it's safe. This handrail will exceed OSHA and BOCA requirements.

Please do not make this out of PVC ;-)
 
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Step 1: Measure the Area

Before buying anything you need to do some measurements.

First we did a basic drawing of the area. This helps us keep our numbers straight. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.

Mark where you want the posts to go. This will serve as a reference point.

We will then make the following measurements:
1. The height of the steps
2. The depth of the steps
3. The distance between the edge of the step and the post markers (offset)

Write all this information down on your drawing.. when you finish you should have something like the attached picture.
Wyle_E1 year ago
Those Kee Klamps are awesome for more complex projects, but they're shockingly expensive. For something this simple, how about three lengths of threaded pipe, two close nipples and four elbows? Two elbows and a close nipple can make any angle, so you don't need the trig.
kjemielity2 years ago
having set custom rail for 25 years, i have to agree, tapcons in-line with the posts are not the strongest option.we usually drill 3 inches deep in concrete9hammer drill or core drill,depending on eval of base material,and use hydraulic cement to anchor.if hole,post and cement properly prepared, develops awesome holding power.currently rails need to withstand 200 lbs of force in any direction.nice looking rail,btw....aluminum?
simplifiedbuilding (author)  kjemielity2 years ago
Yeah we drill out holes with a hammer drill and set the railing bases with concrete anchors. These railing have been up for 5 years with no problems!

The railing material is actually galvanized steel.

Here are a several versions of the railing that are now available in kits on our web site:

http://www.simplifiedbuilding.com/store/kits/handrail-kits.html
radiorental7 years ago
nice couple of question, the joints in your first pic are not the same as the hinged joint in the instructions/final pic - whats up with that? Second, are you 100% sure those bolt you drove in to the concrete are up to code? I dont know code for crap but my gut feel is it will not hold if someone fell up against it. I would imagine code requires the post to be set in concrete - not bolted. At the very least I would recommend you turning those bottom brackets around 90 so the bear the load a little better, any side load on the rail will wedge them up fairly easily.
Tapcons are good and strong, but yea, I'd buy the longest ones I could manage. I'd also turn the flanges around 90°, like you said. Even I, with a welder, suitable scrounged pipe behind the barn already, and access to a bandsaw would use those bottom flanges before resorting to chipping out a round hole big enough for the pipe to fit and using quick setting cement. I've got several thousands of pounds of gear on my garage wall shelving that's attached via Tapcons. Although, yea, it is mostly a shear load.
If the flanges will let the pipe protrude through the bottom, why not get a core drill and sink the pipes into the step a few inches? That would just leave the flanges and anchors preventing them from pulling out vertically, while a sideways force would do nothing until the pipe buckled. The pipe looks heavily galvanized, but I wonder if additional waterproofing would be appropriate for the below-grade sections. Goop 'em up with tar or something first?
D.STKN Myself5 years ago
I agree that the integrity of the whole project itself would be compromised if the post weren't coredrilled and concreted. It simply makes total sense to me for a long lasting solid handrail as a whole.
Radiorental has a good idea. Although this handrail was not meant for skateboarders grinding on it, it probably should be able to hold a heavy load. After attaching the posts to the concrete, try putting the swivel fittings on the top of the posts, and have the handrail slide through the "loops" of the swivel fittings. This way the weight bears down on the posts, instead of on the swivel fitting joints. You would need a slightly longer handrail, and you could still cap the handrail ends with the caps you used on the post. All in all, the only thing different in the parts list would be the length of the handrail. Just a thought.
simplifiedbuilding (author)  CementTruck7 years ago
That's an intersting thought..I think I can visualize it. Next time I have to do a handrail configuration I'll think about that design.
my bad, its a different rail in the first - anyway, still curious about those bottom bracket being up to much abuse. I recommend shaking the beejesus out of it and if with starts to show any sign of loosening I would rethink the way you've attached them to the concrete. The very last thing you want is someone sueing you becuase it gave way.
simplifiedbuilding (author)  radiorental7 years ago
If you saw these things and touched them, felt the weight of them you would see that this thing is not going anywhere. As longs as your screws go into the concrete at least one inch you should be good (per specification by the clamp manfuc.) If you really wanted to be secure you could use a concrete toggle bolt. If I had more experience I might have gone that route (the holes on the flange support the toggle bolts). Note.. we built two rails for our friend Bill. The one in the initial picture uses "fixed" angle fittings. We had to use the swivel fittings on the railing we took pictures of the process on because of the weird angle of the steps. I chose to highlight that one because it's more universal. We video taped the building of the fixed angle railing and I'm going to try to edit it and get that up in the next couple of weeks.
Bardouv5 years ago
Great, simple, design. What brand drill did you use for this project? Just curious.
simplifiedbuilding (author) 7 years ago
This project has been updated to include a change in how the flanges are fastened to the concrete. We exchanged the Tapcon screws for some heavy duty toggle bolts. This made the entire railing much more stable. Check out the picture of Kevin leaning against the rail.
100_1046.jpg
simplifiedbuilding (author) 7 years ago
PLEASE NOTE: As many have observed, as it turns out this rail is not as secure that it needs to be. We are going to replace the tapcons with some heavy duty concrete toggle bolts. We'll update our project when we finish.
spinach_dip7 years ago
C50 $14.88 x2 Type 62-8 $15.91 x2 Type 84-8 $3.17 only one to cut costs? 2 schedule 40 pipe 42” 1 schedule 40 pipe 28" ($ Unknown) 4 Tapcon Concrete anchors (Home Depot) & Various Washers ($ Unknown, but you are unlikely to score only 4 Tapcons, you'll need to get a box, preferrably with the right drill included) Getting teh “wet nurse” building code inspector off your back: /priceless/
ScooterSES7 years ago
I like the look of your stuff..I really do. But I am getting kind of tired of you advertising your products on instructables. Your stuff is nice..this jsut dosen't seem like the right venue to peddle it.
simplifiedbuilding (author)  ScooterSES7 years ago
I'm confused. Am I violating some sort of rule (written or unwritten) by innovating with a product that I actually sell. It's not like this stuff is snake oil or something. As has also been mentioned we are not the only place you can buy these. You can get them at a local hardware store, from McMaster-Carr, Grainger, and various other outlets, online or otherwise. The only reason that we post this is because we believe that it will be genuinely helpful to people. I don't understand the violence I'm doing to you, or to this system. Reason with me :-) That beings said, if the owners of the site feel that this is out of place or inappropriate I would be glad to hear from them and remove the project myself. Thank You, and I look forward to your response.
teh, I find your content worth reading, and as long as the owners of the site don't mind, keep it up as long as you want. Just because it shows up in the recent RSS feed doesn't mean any naysayers need to click on it. This is by far more entertaining than hopefully-up-and-coming band members that make mediocre pizza.
well, i sell kits on my instructables...hell, i even have a pipebed made with these sorts of fittings (i got the fittings for free tho ;) its not like people cant buy them from hardware stores, so why should it matter?
ScooterSES7 years ago
Ok, I was under the impression that you were the manufacturer of those parts and that they were sold exclusively through you. I have reread the instructable and I apologies for my eelier statement. Again, I really do like how your stuff looks. It is nice to see projects on here that don't look slapped together :)