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Project 1 - Exterior railing

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Project 1 - Exterior railing

Postby AussieWelder » Mon May 08, 2017 11:38 am

Good morning everyone,

Great to have just joined this forum. I have ordered materials for my first railing project, but then asked them to hold for now - I would have liked for someone to go over the materials choices before doing so. I'm going to be welding up and installing exterior railings for our house. I've decided to do a rough replica of the existing interior stair railings - image attached here.

I will start by ordering enough materials to do just the smallest deck area to begin with. If all goes well, I can ramp up to do the much longer runs of railing after I've proved myself!

I found that the steel supplier I went to here did not have any opinions to offer in my materials choices, and apparently I came at the wrong time of the week to be likely to catch experienced welders passing thru the place for their own orders.

I'm going to post a few of my remaining project questions here :

1. Pondering whether to build rail sections in place on the deck (vertically), or weld up 'as panels' on a horizontal flat surface and then install with all inside welds completed? (note : hoping to avoid getting into making a special welding table for this).
2. Outer attachment points are going to be steel vertical i-beams that are load-bearing (holding up deck roofing). Wondering about attachment method for end of rail sections as they come up to these beams - to clean off paint and weld directly to the beams, or first weld on sections of say 1/8" steel plate, and then weld on to that slightly built up surface? (I'm about to find out what happens with heat transfer into such a massive piece of steel, attaching a much lighter piece to it).
3. Referring to the existing rail that I'm going to make a similar version of, is it likely to be better to choose solid round bar for the horizontal stringers, or instead look for an appropriately-sized hollow stock? (existing railings stringers have an O.D. of ½", and I was thinking of going up somewhat in all component dimensions for the outside project - say 5/8" or ¾" OD for the round stock).
4. All materials should be from hot-rolled sources, is that right? I noticed hot and cold-rolled available on the demo floor, but I figured cold-rolled is more for load bearing or other more specialized applications.
5. I have not found much at all on code requirements for working up railing designs in steel (but plenty available in wood). For now, I'm just going to make sure that the design is plenty strong and easily able to stand up to the load requirements I have read (loadings per square foot).

Thanks all, apologies for writing so many questions, and looking forwards! - Grant.
Attachments
IMG_4639.JPG
Railings to match
IMG_4639.JPG (71.08 KiB) Viewed 248 times
Grant
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Re: Project 1 - Exterior railing

Postby cj737 » Tue May 09, 2017 7:10 am

If you're new to welding, I'd construct the panels on a flat surface where you can manage access to them, control their position, and not wrestle with fitment/maintaining plumb.

When welding hot rolled, you need to grind the scale off to bare clean metal before welding. I'd choose cold rolled material if you haven't already ordered the material.

As for hollow or solid stock for the "stringers" it doesn't really matter as either will suffice. The heaviest load is on the vertical portions. The stringers are for rigidity and safety. Connecting them to the end rails, I'd weld directly to the "posts" (if I understand your descriptions).

Maybe this helps???
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Re: Project 1 - Exterior railing

Postby Artie F. Emm » Tue May 09, 2017 11:28 am

I have a question about wood vs. steel vode requirements. Would code requirements be different for steel?

Asking because i don't know, not to challenge you or your project. But code requirements carry a lot of ramifications.
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Design and fabrication issues - exterior railing

Postby AussieWelder » Thu May 11, 2017 10:01 am

Thanks CJ for the great thoughts.

My design is more or less a copy of the interior railing that I photographed, but I scaled up according to instinct :

The initial rail has a 1 ½ x 1" top rail. I went for 3 x 1 top rail. (14 AWG, but I wonder if I should be using a heavier wall thickness on this??).

The intermediate verticals and bottom rails are solid bar stock, 1 ½ x ½". I went for 3" x 3/8" for both the verticals and the bottom rail.

The horizontally-oriented 'stringers' are ½" OD in the interior design, and I have gone for 5/8" round bar stock for the outside version. (I don't know if they used hollow or solid for the interior railing design).

Started chopping stock to length last night (we're rained out here today, so I was cutting down those 20 foot pieces as quick as I could, with fading light) and have borrowed a rinky-dink amateur welding table from a well meaning friend in our town. It's spindly, and 'not exactly' flat on top, so I am going to see what I can do to get it into better shape. I did already come to the conclusion that assembling in panels was the way to go, thanks again CJ (esp. when considering butt welding all the round stock, spaced at 3 7/8" max gap between them (code here requires that a 4" sphere cannot be passed between). Crawling over the outer edge of decks to do that repetitive weld might not be the best way for a beginner to do consistent quality work!

Artie, you touch on an interesting point. Code specs on wooden railings are easily found, in fact our local jurisdiction has them all available online, quite easy to follow. But when it comes to metal, I may have been doing the wrong kind of search, but in the end all I found were a single set of posted specs related to galvanized tubular projects (including anchoring req's into concrete) - more the sort of effort employed in public venues like stations, parks, etc.

So what I have done is make sure that my design specs are better than those required in wood (we have a max 5 ft spacing here between wooden posts, I am doing mine initially at just under 48" spacing). I am matching the aforementioned wood code requirements for minimum height for top rail, and maximum permissible openings (there are specs for openings in any railing portion below 38" above deck surface, and then a more liberal allowance once you rise over 38").

Grant.
Grant
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Re: Project 1 - Exterior railing

Postby cj737 » Thu May 11, 2017 10:59 am

For your horizontals, you need not weld the entire circumference. A good hot tack in 2 to 4 spots is more than strong enough.
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Re: Project 1 - Exterior railing

Postby Poland308 » Thu May 11, 2017 5:26 pm

Don't know if you have seen Jody's last vid about the Aluminum awning. But they used pipe stands to level up the long tubes. You can make your own pipe stands cheap enough if there just used for light work.
I have more questions than answers

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