Having a replica Victorian porch railing made?

sarahandbrayOctober 19, 2012

We are working on several parts of our 1880's Victorian home just outside of Albany, NY. The thing that is really throwing me for a loop is getting our old porch railing replicated. I have a 3 foot segment of the original railing in tact and would LOVE to just hand it off/mail it off to someone to have it replicated.

I was trying to stay local, but have gotten quotes in excess of 10K JUST for the railing itself! Holy moly!

Are there any reputable mail order/commercial dealers in this kind of woodworking that are reputable and more economic? It's maybe 30ft. of railing needed and 60 spindles--very short and squat.

Thanks in advance for your help and expertise!!

Sarah from Albany, NY

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I previously saw some pics you posted of the rail; you have to understand that the glue-ups to make each balluster are very material intensive and time consuming. There is no good way to take solid 4" square stock off the shelf and start turning it. So even before the lathe work commences there is the preparation. Several man-days to get stock. And the cost of perfectly knotfree rot-resistant wood. The rails also use very wide and thick stock. It's extremely space intensive too, waiting for glue to dry.
Then, a wood turner of sufficient skill to duplicate the ballusters demands a pretty high wage. It's not like you can stick just anybody in front of that tool. To get nice turnings is sort of an art form. So $300/ft for custom rail means two things: the shop bid the job to do it not because they need the work, or it is a reasonable market price for the time and materials.
There are plenty of custom architectural wood turners on the web. Specify a tropical hardwood like mahogany or spanish cedar or you'll be redoing it again in 10 years.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 9:47AM
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Have you tried vintage woodworks they sell all sorts of victorian trim

Here is a link that might be useful: vintage woodworks

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 10:49PM
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"There is no good way to take solid 4" square stock off the shelf and start turning"

Go to a hardwoods dealer and get thicker material from them.

They often have larger dimension softwoods that will NOT be the typical 4x4 wood from the lumberyard that contains pith and is really only useful as firewood.

Large dimension clear wood is NOT inexpensive.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 11:14AM
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