One-Day Project: Fix a Wobbly Stair Rail

Sooner or later, all staircases will develop a case of the wobbly spindle.

If not repaired, a wobbly spindle problem will worsen and can become a hazard. (Spindles can eventually come undone, and allow a child or animal to slip through.)

Shim for fixing stair rail.

Step 1

Locate the wobbly spindle, and examine the area where it joins the staircase to determine where the extra space lies—you’ll find a small gap on one side. Most of the time, the problem area will be where the spindle connects beneath the stair rail, but it sometimes can be where the spindle meets the stair tread. Next, take a shim (above) and trim or break it at a size that approximates the gap. Then, apply wood glue to the narrow end of the shim and firmly force it into the space. Don’t worry about any excess.

Step 2

Allow the glue to dry completely (follow manufacturer’s instructions). Then, use a box-cutter or utility knife to cut off the excess material as close to the rail as possible (right). Work slowly and carefully, so as not to mark up the spindle or the handrail. When you’re done, the shim will be securely in place, and so will the spindle.

Cut the shim to size.


Tags: OHJ December 2013 OHJ Staff Old-House Journal staircase

By Old House Journal

Founded in 1973, Old House Journal is the original authority when it comes to old-house restoration, traditional house styles, period kitchens, bath & kitchen restoration, DIY projects, gardens & landscaping, and more-- from Colonial and Victorian through Arts & Crafts and Mid-century Modern homes. 

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