Wood Handrail Plans

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How to DIY a wood handrail - free plans from Ana-White.com

Thank you all for your wonderful comments and feedback on our new handrail for Momplex: Unit Sewing Mom.  We appreciate your encouragement!

The handrail turned out so well, we have to share the plans with you - as promised!

Now before you start building a handrail, make sure you check with your local building codes to build your handrail to meet codes.  We've built ours to meet our codes, but your's could differs - so adjust accordingly.

The first step is to measure and plan your handrail accorddingly.  We placed our handrail on top of the top edge of the drywall in the entryway, to finish off that edge, and will also be adding additional trim later on.

If you are adding a stair handrail, also consider how you will be attaching it - We'll be posting about a stair handrail in the next few weeks as well.

Consider how you will attach the handrail to the floor/walls.  We built the Momplex, so we know exactly what is under the floor - so we opted for a floor mounted handrail.  Alternatively, the handrail could have been mounted on the wall - but that's a different design and plan.

If your handrail is longer than 6 feet, you'll need center posts as well - like we did here:

I'm big on symmetry, so I like to place the post in the center for balance - something you may wish to figure in your design as well.

Also, if you haven't already, please take a second to read through our building a handrail post - there's lots of pictures and details on how we built ours that will come in handy if you are DIYing a handrail.

Always build to local building codes that may differ from diagrams and insturctions given here.


Shopping List

4x4s for posts
2x4s for horizontal supports
2x2s for balusters
1x4s for trim over balusters
3" screws for attacing 2x4s to 4x4 posts
2 1/2" pocket hole screws for attaching 2x4s to 4x4 posts and balusters
Screws or hardware for attaching handrail to building

Cut List

Handrail is cut to fit -

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Table Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
Drill Bit Set
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Once you have your handrail figured out, start by building the main straight section. The top 2x4 and bottom 2x4 should be the overall length of your straight section. 4x4 posts are attached with 3" countersunk screws and wood glue through top and bottom. 

If your handrail extends more than 6 feet (check local codes for spans) you will also need to add additional 4x4 posts to meet codes. We centered our center 4x4 posts:

Step 2

I wanted a space at the bottom (kinda like a toekick if you will) so we added bottom 2x4 boards, keeping to code spacings.

Step 3

Now you'll need to figure how many balusters you will need.

This may take some thinking - consider the width of your balusters and spacings, and then end spacings.

Once you know how many balusters you'll need, if it is an ODD number of balusters, attach a baluster through 1 1/2" pocket holes to the center of the railing section as noted in the diagram.

If you need an EVEN number of balusters, the center will be a spacing. So find the center, and measure 1/2 the distance of your spacing off the center. Attach a baluster here.

Step 4

Then from the first attached baluster, add remaining balusters the spacing difference appart.

We cut spacing blocks to help us maintain the correct spacing as we added balusters.

Step 5

Step 6

You'll have pocket holes showing on the insides. We used 1x4s to cover the pocket holes. Worked awesome and gives the inside a finished look.

That's the straight section ....

Step 7

If your baluster turnes a corner, use the corner post for the next section.

Step 8

Secure your handrail to the floor and wall - every home is different, so how you attach your handrail could differ from our installation.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.



Wed, 07/24/2013 - 10:11

You have inspired me to change the one we have in our entrance. Love this! Thanks so much for the plans and detailed instructions! We have all our wood, and bought a Kreg Jig finally!!! Can't wait!! How are you going to finish your banister? Tracey


Thu, 09/12/2013 - 09:14

I need to replace an unsafe iron railing and this is perfect. I also need the one that goes up the stairs, did you finish it? I can't find it here on the site.
I am impressed with this design and its simplicity, looks like a much more expensive one.


Sat, 08/06/2022 - 04:27

I followed this handrail plan exactly as described and it worked out great! I’ve never built something like this and everyone thought it was done by a professional contractor. Thank you for the plans!