Reader Project: Birch Deck Railing

After recently building a 30×10-ft. two-story deck on my detached garage, it was time to finish it with a railing.

reader birch railing

birch deck railing

birch deck railing over garage

birch deck railing by reader

birch deck railing on stairs

birch deck railing with batman

After recently building a 30×10-ft. two-story deck on my detached garage, it was time to finish it with a railing. After looking into the expensive cost of vinyl railing and also being a huge fan of natural elements, I opted for a natural wood design.

My father is a phenomenal carpenter who has taught me so very much, but he literally laughed at me when I shared my idea! Being challenged, I was determined to accomplish it.

I settled on birch because I liked the way it assimilated vinyl from a distance. The posts were notched with a small chainsaw to fit over the deck. The top and bottom rails are pinned to the posts with 3/4-in. dowel rods as well as lag screws.

Tips: safety first! Always wear your glasses and be very, very careful making your cuts. I did entire job with a miter saw and chain saw. Because the birch is round, it has a tendency to roll. I braced the posts between 4x4s with a large clamp when notching. Cut slow with the miter saw and expect smoke from the blade on angle cuts. I suggest using live (green) wood to prolong the project’s life. Also, check your codes for spindle spacing.

I finished the railing with water-based polyurethane to reduce yellowing. I also capped the posts with glass railroad insulator caps!

Needless to say my dad was really impressed! I almost replaced one section of railing with straighter sections, but my dad told me it looked natural and to leave it. — Craig Lyons

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