Installing a modern railing on a closed box staircase

modern railing on closed box stairs

A year or two ago, suffering from terrible decor overload, I tore out the gaudy beige and gold twisted, scrolling picket staircase railing which adorned our main stairway. Since then I searched and searched for a modern replacement to take some focus away from some other design remnants left over from the previous owners (ehm, terrible tiles). The problem ended up being that there aren’t many railing options for closed box staircases, and fewer DIY modern indoor railing product. Like many industries the railing/stair manufactures don’t cater to the public, products are intended for contractors. With my wife newly pregnant it was time to kick this railing project into overdrive and get it done, after much searching and planning I found and installed a solution that worked out great.

For those of you wondering a box, or closed box, staircase is a staircase where the stringers (the support boards on either side of the stairway) enclose the stairs. In some cases stairways enclosed by walls are referred to by the same name, this is not the case here. If the one or both of the stringers do not enclose the stairs, but leave them open to extend past the stringer, the stairway is known as open, or partially open at least.

Railings on closed box staircases are, in most cases, mounted to the angled top edge of one or both stringers or affixed to the outside of the stringer. In the case of mounting the posts on the stringer the base of the pickets, or posts, can only be as wide as the width of the stringer, which can be quite restrictive.

In our case the stringer was under 2″ wide, not wide enough for most posts, and because of the 2nd floor landing spacing there was no room to affix posts to the outside of stringer. These issues left us very few options, even fewer modern design options. A modern-style steel railing needs something in the neighbourhood of a 3″ square base for each post, many require a flat surface as well, our stringer has neither. Mounting the posts on the stair tread, on the inside the stringer would result in a very awkward looking staircase and eliminate 3″ of stair width — so no help there.

The solution I came up with was to cut hardwood blocks to bolt to the inside of the stringer to add additional width to the stringer where support the posts was needed. It worked like a charm, painting the risers white along with the wood blocks gave the staircase a farm house look.

The railing hardware is from Inline Design, who offer some fantastic designs and will customize hardware to suit your needs at no extra cost — which you will need if any posts are mounted on either landing as well as the stringer since they will need to be difference heights to maintain the proper handrail (and potentially cable) angle. Thankfully, Inline Design has very reasonable shipping rates to Canada and the U.S., though some custom charges do apply. The hallelujah component from Inline Design is a pivoting base for their posts, this allows mounting the post to a stringer, or any angled surface as long as it has at least 3″ square available. All in all this project came in at about half the cost of having a contractor do it — and I’m not sure any local companies would have offered the blocking solution I ended up with. I’m almost certain I would’ve been told the entire staircase would have to be redone in order to install this type of railing.

The above step-by-step gallery should give a pretty clear picture as to how this all worked, feel free to ask questions in the comments.

New band lineup baby announcement

My wife Ester and I are expecting and since we’re both musicians we grabbed our guitars and did a fun photoshoot to announce our good news. Inspired by this creative announcement we came across.

Maker Wedding: Animated HTML / jQuery wedding site


One of the projects I took on for our wedding was our official wedding website, I registered two domains, esterandphil.com as well as philandester.com thus avoiding any confusion. Both site pointed to the same page, for the general public a simple splash with a dynamic forest animation accomplished with the help of jQuery.

We wanted to create a page that connected with our venue which was in a barn on a conservation area. I’ve always enjoyed sine path algorithms so I created a scene where silhouetted trees scroll slowly by in a parallax-esc fashion and fuzzy Will-o’-the-wisp dots float lazily upward on sine waves. Randomly the wisps will be replaced with rain and visiting the site during the day versus during the night will result in different colours and songs.

The trees are selected randomly from one of six or seven images which then have a random amount of transparency and speed applied so that some seem further in the distance. Once they disappear off of one side they are recycled, animating in from the starting side again. Similarly the wisps have random factors applied to their size, speed, sine curve and alpha. The wisps are also interspersed on the z-axis to move in front of some trees while behind others adding to the illusion of depth. The wisps are also recycled once they’ve floated out of view.

On the live site I adjust the parameters for some popular clients, such as iOS for which I disabled animation and reduced the number of trees and wisps.

Inaccessible to the public is a guest site which used the splash page concept as a background with only the a couple of wisps animating with static trees (still randomly generated).

While this exact example is probably not portable verbatim you may find the method libraries I used as well as the technique useful. I have outlined some of the initializer functions below and linked to the libraries, some of which I have modified. The final library, animate.js, is almost completely custom code for this site and thus would have to be altered to suit your needs.

Will-o’-the-wisp Initialize

window.numberOfDots = 50;

for(i=0;i<window.numberOfDots;i++)
  window.dots.push(new dot(i));

Forest Initialize

window.numberOfTrees = 15;

for(i=0;i<window.numberOfTrees;i++)
  window.trees.push(new tree(i,'http://philandester.com/'));

Rain Initialize

var raincolor = '#fff';

new Rain('canvas', {
    speed: 500,
    angle: 20,
    intensity: 5,
    size: 10,
    color: raincolor
  });

Main Loop Start

setInterval(function(){sine()}, 25);

Raphael 1.5.2 – JavaScript Vector Library, MIT License (http://raphaeljs.com/)
http://philandester.com/rain.js

Andrew J. Peterson, NDP Software, MIT License (http://blog.ndpsoftware.com/)
http://philandester.com/colorfactory.js

Custom JavaScript Animation Library
http://philandester.com/animate.js

Maker Wedding: Thank you Edison-style light fixtures

Close to one year after our wedding, my wife Ester and I are, at long-last, sending out thank you packages. Having handcrafted the rustic Edison-style light fixtures for our wedding reception (with some much appreciated assembly line help from my Dad) we had hoped that we would be able to send those same lights to family and friends who not only shared with us and supported us on our wedding day, but support our family on a daily basis. In this way a light which helped to brighten our wedding festivities may continue to brighten, in some small way, the lives of our family and friends.

 
If you were part of our wedding, or lent your support, a package should be making its way to you. Postage services being what they are, if you have yet to receive a package by August, 2014, please let us know by sending an email to esterandphil [at] esterandphil [dot see oh ehm]. Those of you in Italy and in Australia will receive bulbs appropriately rated for 220-240 volts, while these weren’t in use at our wedding, rest assured that we’ll infuse them with loving and thankful vibes before sending them on their way.

These simple light fixtures were designed, selected from reclaimed barn wood (the Barn Board Store), cut, drilled, sanded and stained by Ester and I with our family and friends in mind — each one unique in character. The modest design allows for a number of use scenarios, it can be placed on a table or desk in virtually any orientation, the socket completing an a-frame support, or it can be wall mounted with the use of a corner bracket or two (not included) so that the light may hang through the hole in the fixture. Some uses require the plug to be threaded through the hole in the fixture, other uses require that the socket be connected to the light bulb through the hole in the fixture.

Lights delivered within North American will be 120 volts (Italy and Australia will be 220 volts). The switch is a 3-way, it will take two clicks to turn on the included bulb, however, should you replace the bulb with a 2-stage bulb (dim, bright) these clicks will toggle the brightness.

Thank you for all of your support, we hope you enjoy this small token of our appreciation. If you would like to share a photo of your light fixture once it’s settled in, we’d be delighted to see it! You can use the upload form below, or send it to esterandphil [at] esterandphil [dot see oh ehm].


 




 

Animated Arduino LED matrix lounge table top

Vinyl “flexi” record wedding invitations

XBee remote relay as photobooth RF camera trigger

Bachelor party wireless Arduino accelerometer Stab-O-Meter


JQuery Animated Wedding Website

Video: Far From Any Road, True Detective Intro Song Cover

True Detective Intro

My gal Ester and I do a cover of the True Detective intro song, Far From Any Road, originally by The Handsome Family. The instruments used included guitar, melodica, ukulele, castanet, percussion frog and a snare drum. Recorded with a Shure SM58 for vocals, a Lexicon MX300 for the vocal reverb, a Shure SM57 for instruments and a MOTU Traveler.