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Bespoke Handrails – Guest Blog

11 November 2017

Bespoke Handrail Wood

Here at British Spirals & Castings, we always aim to deliver products which meet our client’s exact requirements. From time-to-time this means partnering with carefully chosen manufacturers and suppliers who can deliver specialist complimentary elements. This was the case in a recent project in London where were asked to supply and fit cast iron balustrade to an existing staircase with a thin core rail ready for a timber handrail to be fitted by others. Our recommend supplier to all customer is Handrail Creations and once our staircase spindles were installed, Handrail Creations created a beautiful bespoke handrail, polished and stained to a black finish. Kenny Macfarlane, Managing Director of Handrail Creations, has kindly agreed to discuss his craft and to provide some advice.

Creating Handrails

Software designers talk a lot about ‘look and feel’ when they go about their work. The essence of this is quite simple, you can create a program with amazing functionality, but if the ‘look and feel’ is wrong, it won’t be a true success. This same principal can be applied to handrails. A well-crafted balustrade should work in harmony with the other elements of a staircase and provide a quality which can be truly felt every time you come into contact with it.

Over the years, we’ve manufactured handrails for all types of different properties and staircases. Much like British Spirals & Castings, we work with the client to create something that is completely bespoke to them – from the wood species to the curves and finish. If you’re thinking of adding a bespoke handrail to your new staircase, or even just upgrading an existing one, there are few things you should consider.

Wood Handrail


Be ambitious

We find a lot of customers come to us with apprehensions about how expensive a custom handrail will be. Whilst any tailored piece of furniture comes with a relative price tag, most of our customers are pleasantly surprised when they receive our quote.

In the past, handrails were traditionally crafted by hand – an incredibly costly and time-consuming process. Craftsmen have to spend days on-site, measuring, carving, testing and then recurving. Progress is slow, and there is considerable wastage. In contrast, our modern CNC machines and digital survey process allow us to work to a 0.25 mm tolerance. The pieces themselves are beautifully finished in a virtually any style and can be manufactured offsite in less than a quarter the time of traditional methods. This precision cutting also means wastage is kept down – making them friendlier for the environment and reducing the amount of wood we use for each piece, thus reducing the cost.

Wood choices

Wood the fundamental building block of the handrail. We offer a wide range of FSC sourced woods, from classic European Oaks to deep American Black Walnut. When picking the wood for your handrail, the most obvious consideration is what shade will suit your home. This may well be pre-determined if you have an existing staircase, or a good idea of what you want your new one to look like. Deeper colours will typically work best with period designs, whilst lighter shades are popular for modern designs. For example, Ash is a common choice for minimalist, Nordic interior styles whilst Walnut can add a touch of Downton-drama to more traditional staircase.

If you haven’t yet settled on a wood yet, it is worth taking a careful look around for inspiration on the web. Don’t just focus on the colour of the wood, but the finish and the grain. Sapele, for example, offers a straight, consistent grain with a warm reddish hue whilst Oak can have a more irregular-patterned grain.

Wooden Handrail


Building Regulations

It’s important to bear in mind that whatever design you choose, it must be compliant with all of the requirements of the Building Regulations. The relevant sections for handrails in the UK are Part K of the Building Regulations. Both ourselves, and British Spirals and Castings, can provide detailed advice to ensure that your staircase is fully compliant whilst still delivering a piece of the highest quality in design and finish.

Complimenting the staircase

Finally – it’s always important to take a step back to check the handrail design you want works with the space and the rest of the staircase. An intricate dark wood handrail may look beautiful by itself, but it may not work well with a modern, minimalist hallway with a light wood staircase.

If you need help and advice on choosing a hand rail, we’re always happy to discuss the best way to meet your requirements and can create the perfect wooden hand rail to match any of British Spirals & Castings designs.

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