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Making a handrail - angles don't add up - what am I missing geometry-wise?

you need to keep the rail parallel with first step and top step then generate 22 degree angle from between to points
 

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I'm all for meeting regulations but I am also all for the idea that I don't need some jamoke from the government telling me what's best. The rail I make will be strong, safe and won't get wobbly or loose in 5 years. One things for sure...it'll be way safer than the no rail that's there now.
 
37 " from nosing vertically is kind of short. 42" is standard.
It is a handrailing, not a guard railing. Also it is code legal to have a handrail height gurdrailing on the open side of stairs, using the top as a handrail for residential.
Handrails need to be between 34" and 38" above stair nose, Most guardrails (like on a balcony) need to be 42" minimum above the floor. Open sided stair guardrailing must be 34" minimum, and no taller than 38" if used as a handrailing. An exception is given for the open side of stairs when the top is used as a hand railing. Another sometimes useful exception is that picket gap on the stairs can be 4 3/8" instead of the normal 4" max.
This is per California Residential Code, 2022 section R312. 312.1.2 exception 1 & 2 are for height and 312.1.3 exception 2 is for opening limitations.
California, like most states follow the IBC. (international building code)
I think memphis does mostly commercial work but even a commercial handrailing is 34" to 38" high, and I think stair gurdrailings must be 42" with a handrail added to it.
 
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I'm all for meeting regulations but I am also all for the idea that I don't need some jamoke from the government telling me what's best. The rail I make will be strong, safe and won't get wobbly or loose in 5 years. One things for sure...it'll be way safer than the no rail that's there now.
I was in no way suggesting to get government involved. just that it is good to know what the "codes" are for what you are doing so you can do work that meets "code" when it makes sense.
 
you need to keep the rail parallel with first step and top step then generate 22 degree angle from between to points
This the way to do it. Landing zones for the hand.
The county might notice the work being done and require you to build a wheelchair ramp.
 
you need to keep the rail parallel with first step and top step then generate 22 degree angle from between to points
For residential use the bottom of the handrailing can stop right at the bottom stair riser, no need to extend past the last riser as in your drawings.
(R311.7.8.4 if you want to double check me on this) Handrails start and stop at the last riser, top and bottom. Nothing says they can not go more. Commercial is different where they have to be level for 12" after the last tread. (it is an imaginary tread on the bottom)
 
Every stair rail I have ever built has its own challenges due to the site conditions. This one is no different. One issue here is the top step doesn't have the same elevation as the finished floor of the house. Usually there would be a landing or similar extending from the structure at the same elevation that acts as the top step. Also, the dirt area at the bottom of the stairs acts as a defacto step. Visualize when you're standing on the dirt, you want the rail at 36". If you terminate the rail above the nose of the first step, the rail will be 42-1/2" when standing on the dirt. Therefore, your rail needs to extend beyond the first step approximately 14" to drop the top of the rail back down to 36" when standing on the dirt. Another thing I noticed is the location of the stairs, side to side, doesn't line up with the edge of the sliding door. If this was my job, I would consult with the client and suggest moving the rail inboard to line up the rail with the door for ease of use. I would use wedge anchors on the top post and a concrete footing of the bottom. It would be easier to install since the elevation only has one "hard" mounting point.
My first feeling is this is for an elderly person so accessibility & ease of use is #1. Codes are important to the point if someone is injured using your rail and it is found out the rail doesn't follow regs, you're in deep doo doo. Even or especially on non permitted jobs. ( I would do this job without one also ).

Rob gives you some good info: 34" - 38" from nose to top of rail, I usually design 36". Guardrail is required when the total elevation change is 30". Your shorter steps keeps it under. On a typical 7" rise step, (4) steps is when it becomes an issue. The cross measurement of the rail is to be 1-1/2" - 2" diameter or flat bar. For elderly clients, I use the smaller diameter, usually 1-1/4" schedule 40 pipe. I wouldn't attach the top of the rail to the house because of the potential of settling of the two different structures ( the stairs vs the home ).

I'm heading to the shop later. I will post a drawing when I get home.
 
Visualize when you're standing on the dirt, you want the rail at 36". If you terminate the rail above the nose of the first step, the rail will be 42-1/2" when standing on the dirt. Therefore, your rail needs to extend beyond the first step approximately 14" to drop the top of the rail back down to 36" when standing on the dirt.

I pretty much agree with everything you said except this, this is not correct for either residential or commercial jobs.
Residential the handrail stops at the bottom riser. Yes it will be 36" plus the riser height off the ground level and that is OK.
If it was a commercial job the handrail would need to extend out to the end of an imaginary tread, and then go level for 12", it does not need to stay straight with the stairs though.

36" is the best target, it gives you 2" both up and down for tolerance. Short or tall people will need it to up or down within that window accordingly.

As a custom metal shop I have been making handrailings as a "day job" for well over 2 decades, I am not guessing here.
Look up the current codes I posted in posts #24 and #27 if you need to, they will say what I just posted.
 
Although is is dirty, with leaves on it, the steps end on a concrete slab which is the back patio.

I agree, the rail will align wit the door and not the edge of the steps. It will look a little funny but the proximity of the rail to the door is important so the person leaving doesn't have to reach out to the right to grab the rail.

This house was built in 1975,,,you should see the front sidewalk that leads to he front doors...it's as crooked as can be....I assume someone was drinking that day they laid the forms.

But, the front doors are two 'French door' type of doors on level ground so anything of size that needs to go in or out of the house goes through there....the back steps do nothing but carry people.
 
I have built a lot of railings, and I always do a full scale drawing based on field measurement. Long runs, i draw on the floor with soapstone or sharpie, little ones like this i do on paper. Never seen a stair that matched the ideal. Rise ( height of step) can often vary, run can vary, angles can vary.
 
Consider the height of the user. Is he tall or short, straight upright or bent over. If short and bent go lower
I did just that. While he's not tall, and could use a lower rail, the need to go from the house level to the first step (top step) when exiting the house means a taller bar is helpful in that way. I had him stand on the house level and reach out...and a rail of around 36" min. works. 37" or 38" is better, so that's why I'm targeting around 37-1/2" or so. For walking up the steps, I figure it's sort of natural to reach up to pull yourself up, plus the 'V' formed by the intersection of the upright with the rail acts as a place to hold, also.
 
I didn’t mean you need to meet code. Code is cheap insurance- more so it is what we expect rail heights to be, so when we reach for them we know they are where we think they should be.
Grab rails extend level, hand rails do not. I have no idea when the 4 inch sphere rule applies. This is because I do a fair amount of both with and without. Many times in the same building.
 
I have no idea when the 4 inch sphere rule applies.
This is a good point...does it apply to horizontal bars, or only vertical? And it gives the max size...but what if the bars are 2' apart? Or 12"? Isn't there a point at which no one can get stuck because the bars are too far apart?

As an aside...this handrail will probably only be used for a few years, in reality. I assume once the owner moves on, the entire house will be leveled. He bought the house "custom built" in 1975 to his specs, on 4 acres of land, for $54,000. He told me he made damn sure the contractor stayed at $19/sq ft. on the house. Today, they are asking $450K/acre for land in his area, and getting it.
 
I have no idea when the 4 inch sphere rule applies. This is because I do a fair amount of both with and without. Many times in the same building.
The picket spacing is for guardrails. Guardrails are only required if the distance from the floor to ground below is 30" or more.
The 4" sphere is used where the public has access, non public access areas can have guardrailing that uses a 12" sphere. Like on a loading dock or catwalk between wine tanks etc.
This is a good point...does it apply to horizontal bars, or only vertical? And it gives the max size...but what if the bars are 2' apart? Or 12"? Isn't there a point at which no one can get stuck because the bars are too far apart?
The code uses the 4" sphere to make it easy to know what will pass code or not. It can be pickets in any direction, cables or ornate scrolls or tree brach metal with leaves. as long as 4" sphere wont fit through any openings it is fine.

Side note on cables: cable is a little different since it flexes. the 4" sphere rule also comes with a pushing force. So the sphere can not go through with something like 100 lbs pushing it. (I do not want to look up the exact lbs right now) So cables are better with something close to 3" spacing and posts and/or cable spacers apox 4' apart. this wont let the sphere flex the cable and go through.
 
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They use a 3 3/4” sphere here to determine compliance with the “baby head rule”.

For this chore, I’d take a helper and some scrap 2x4 or 2x2. Hold one beside top step at the wall, mark 37” up from top of tread. Do the same at bottom tread but hold back a few inches back from front of tread. Measure the top for length of handrail. Go back to the shop and make the metal bits. Take it back and anchor the new railing to the side of the stairs. Done.

If you want to bolt to the top of step, mark the location of the top of tread on your sticks and cut there.
 
The code uses the 4" sphere to make it easy to know what will pass code or not. It can be pickets in any direction, cables or ornate scrolls or tree brach metal with leaves. as long as 4" sphere wont fit through any openings it is fine.
So if the pickets are 48' apart, they are not allowed? That's my point...there must be some min as well as max distance.

In this case, I want to add a crossbar but I don't want it less than 4" from the top rail...so how far can I put it so no one gets over-excited?
 
This house was built in 1975,,,you should see the front sidewalk that leads to he front doors...it's as crooked as can be...
Houston black clay. Sidewalk on the house I grew up in shifted up and down and sideways depending on the last time it rained. Mom finally got fed up with it and pulled it up and put stepping stones in its place which moved even more.
 
You have not placed the uprights in the same location on each step.
Therefore you cannot count on symmetry of the steps.
You have to make custom cut on the second upright.
Simple solution.
Make everything a bit longer than need be and then clamp the handrail BESIDE the posts at the correct height and then use a pencil to trace the angle on the posts. Measure the rail height from the center of each step.
If you don't have a standard carpenter's bevel gauge then buy one as they are invaluable for transferring angles on stuff like this. While the rail is clamped trace the angle on the rail and then use the bevel gauge to transfer that angle to the ends so the cut is vertical to the ground.
 








 
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