Cut-to-size timber handrail

If you’ve decided on building a classic wooden handrail on your staircase, then this guide is for you! This particular D.I.Y. project can improve the safety, functionality, and aesthetics of your household, but it’s arguably not an easy task to complete.

Here, we’ll show you how to transform your cut-to-size timber into an ergonomic and classy handrail. Not only will we break down the steps to make the project more manageable, but the lessons we’ll teach will help you develop your skills in other trades. In fact, this may just be the start of many more D.I.Y home projects to come! 

Deciding on Timber + Tools You Need

Before bringing out the different tools you need, you may want to first visualise what kind of timber you want to use for your home. There are many kinds of common timbers around the U.K., such as Douglas Fir or Scandinavian Redwood. You may look into the common tones of colour around your home and choose which one blends in the most.

Once you’ve had an idea of the kind of timber you want, you can get started on gathering your tools. Here are the tools that you need:

  • Tape measure
  • Torpedo level
  • Carpenter’s level
  • Pencil
  • Chalk line
  • Miter saw
  • Stud finder
  • Brackets
  • Wood glue
  • Finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Screwdriver

Step-by-Step Process

Now that all your materials and tools are ready, it’s time to get to work!

  1. You need to first measure the length of the staircase. Then, from the top and bottom of the staircase, add 10.16 centimetres to each end. This allows for a form-fitting wooden handrail to be installed.
  2. Get cut-to-size timber in that measurement. Additionally, take note of the recommended handrail guidelines for measurement and safety in your local area.
  3. Using your mitre saw, cut 5.08 centimetres off the ends at a 45-degree angle. Reverse the cuts made on each end in such a way that it is against the wall.
  4. Separate and save the timber pieces you cut off for returns.
  5. Measure the desired height you want for the handrail with the carpenter’s level. Mark it with a pencil. Make sure to stand the level vertically.
  6. Align the carpenter’s level with each step and work your way up. Mark each measurement on the wall.
  7. Once marked out, connect the pencil markings by drawing a chalk line. Remember to use your stud finder to locate the centre for each stud in the wall. This is where you are installing the handrail.
  8. Now, it’s time to determine how many brackets you will be using (one on top, one on the bottom). You may also need additional brackets that are approximately 1.2 to 1.3 metres apart.
  9. Leave a vertical mark on the chalk line over the studs. This is where you intend to hang your brackets. You need to measure and mark 7 centimetres below each mark from the top of the bracket.
  10. You can then extend the lines slightly with the torpedo level.
  11. Then, hold the bracket in position with the top hole centred over and aligned with the  7-centimetre mark.
  12. Drill pilot holes into the wall using each bracket as a guide.
  13. Fasten the brackets to the studs with the screws from your kit.
  14. Set the handrail on the brackets, then mark the location of the bracket holes and the underside of your wooden handrail. You can pre-drill the holes in the handrail to prep it for installation.
  15. Mount handrail with the screws from the bracket’s own assembly kit.
  16. Place the set-aside returns from earlier against the two ends of the handrails. If necessary, trim it with a mitre saw. Adhere wood glue to handrail ends and returns.
  17. Press down on the returns firmly against the handrail.
  18. Attach the returns to the wooden hands with two to three finish nails.


Installing a wooden handrail is possible, provided that you precisely study the steps and plan ahead. Grab your toolbox and refer to this guide to improve your home! 

Looking for cut-to-size timber in Essex and London? We can provide you with premium, made-to-measure wood! Send us a message today.

Spec you cut-to-size handrail, with 14 species to choose from, we are sure you will find the perfect match for your home.