Handrailing

The traditional kit stairs mentioned in Section 6.1 (Figure 6.3) have the attraction that standardized wreathings and terminal blocks are available, even though the shapes have the coarseness of Edwardiana. Equal economy can ensue if

Figure 6.5c Curved framing: Detail of winders with post support

Figure 6.5c Curved framing: Detail of winders with post support

Figure 6.5d Curved framing: Curved newel to support strings and handrail, Wood House, Shipbourne, 1938, Architects: Gropius and Fry standard mopstick handrails are used without wreathing. Once turned work is needed then the services of specialists will be required to fabricate wreathed work at stairwells and for terminal blocks etc. The handrailing connections are made by special bolts (Figure 6.8d and e); various attempts have been tried to market a universal timber handrailing that will solve all circular work. Metal fabricators have come nearest to this ideal and would appear to hold the key to composite designs where timber stairs are combined with glass, mesh or sheet balustrading.

The comfortable feel of timber to the touch should not be forgotten. Handrails are shaped to be grasped, the simple mopstick (45 mm diameter) or oval (64 mm x 40 mm) are immensely comfortable and much superior to the brutalist bulks favoured in the 1960s (Figure 6.8h). Complex shapes were developed by Aalto to provide anthropomorphic forms to fit the hand (Figure 6.8i) but the cost of wreathing is formidable.

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