The continuous handrailing, available from S & A Stairs , is as much an art form as technique of producing a barrier.
The line of the handrail is critical when creating a timeless feature staircase and without this attention to harmony between the staircase and balustrading, the whole focal point can fail.
A handrail should flow with clean lines and a user to descend a staircase without having to remove their hand.
The continuous handrail has a place in both traditional and contemporary design. While contemporary rail patterns tend to be less detailed and smaller than traditional rails the principles remain the same.
The names of components and terminology uses in the art of handrailing are timeless, wreaths, twisting wreaths, scrolls, ramps, swan necks, rollover scrolls, level scrolls, climbing well rail, landing wreaths, springing points and radius points.
A Continuous handrail is handrail that does not stop and start at a newel post or where the stair changes direction, but continues in smooth curves from the bottom of the stair to the top.
This handrail allows people to run their hand all the way along as they walk up or down the stair. The Continuous Handrailing techniques can be applied to staircases that have straight flights and to Geometric staircases.
Geometry plays an important part in the working life of an expert is handrailing. When setting out a staircase that requires a continuous rail, the craftsman is considering decreasing the changes in pitch and if these changes cannot be removed altogether the severity needs reducing.
Riser positions, the size of handrails, the line of ideal fit between the riser lines, position of balusters, internal and external radius, are all consideration for the craftsman, while constantly considering not exposing the wreathing components to short gain.
Over use of short gain can greatly weaken the rail at points where it requires the maximum strength. In its pure form continuous handrail is still honed from solid laminated blocks of timber using planes, moulding planes, spoke-shaves and gouges and these days a few electric tools and of course a lot of sandpaper.
The fundamental method of handrail construction has not changed for hundreds of years. Certainly machinery has made construction faster but the actual method has not changed much at all.
With the introduction of more socially responsible building standards that require continuous handholds thus allowing better and safer access to buildings for the disabled and visually impaired the importance of the craft of handrailing has never been greater.
Grant McGeachin, handrailing expert, has worked with S & A Stairs for nearly 30 years. He learnt his craft off Bruno Venus, a German post war migrant (whose father, son and grandson all worked for Slattery & Acquroff and the latter two still do) with woodworking skills.
Bruno Venus had learnt the craft from one of the company’s founders Alex Acquroff. Alex Acquroff had completed his staircase apprenticeship in Edinburgh before migrating to Australia in about 1911.