by Bill Bradley

 



Cross Sections
Panel Box Newel
Features to seek in quality-built box newels.  
 
Cross section of box newel with panels
featuring stile and rail construction.
Space balls allow for normal
expansion/contraction.

 
Cross section of a box newel design
with stile and rail construction. This
and the above example use locking
S mitered joints.

Milled Box Newel
 
Cross section of plain or milled box
newel featuring locking S mitered joints.

The newel post provides the structure to the stair rail system. Traditionally the newel at the foot of the stairs is the architectural feature of the stairway, setting the tone for its design. Also used for intermediate posts where stairs change direction, on landings, and at the top of a staircase, the primary purpose of a newel is structure. But their prominence in rooms have led wood craftsmen to grow creative with newels, adding decorative trim and designing them with a rich array of architectural styles. Solid newels are distinguished from the hollow variety, which offer more options for scale and design. In historic homes, house plans were placed in the newel upon completion of the house, before the newel was capped.

—Narrative courtesy of builderbill-diy-help.com; images courtesy StairPartsandMore.com (Oak Pointe LLC).

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.