Today, I’m going to give you some general pointers for working with stair spindles and then I’ll explain how I made each project.
Tips for Working with Stair Spindles:
If you are repurposing stair spindles, here are some tips for working with them:
(1) Cutting them.
Usually, stair spindles are made from solid wood. Thus, the easiest way to cut them into smaller pieces for projects is with a miter saw. I use (affiliate link ->) this saw and I love it.
You could use a hand saw if you don’t have a miter saw, but just be careful. Make sure that the spindles are clamped to a solid, stable surface before cutting – they can roll or move easily while cutting.
Because the spindles are solid wood, predrill all holes that you need to make for your project. That way, the spindles won’t split or crack, and it makes everything easier when you put things together.
(I love my drill – it might be my favorite tool ever. It’s so easy to use, my 8-year-old daughter can use it. You can find it here (affiliate link): Drill/Drivers: Ryobi Drills One+ 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Starter Drill Kit P1810)
When you drill into the spindles, make sure that you’ve either got a good hold on them or clamp them to a stable surface. Drilling into them can be difficult, so make sure they are secure before you start drilling.
Also, use a bit that is made to drill into hard wood. And drill in a place you don’t mind getting dirty – there will be sawdust!!
(3) Choose the shapes you like.
All spindles are different, so when shopping for or picking out spindles to use for a project, make sure you take note of the different shapes. For example, for the coat rack:
I chose the knobby parts of the spindles because they seemed perfect for holding coats or bags (or leashes or hats…).
(4) Attaching them.
To attach the spindles to the wood in these projects, I found the best screws to use are deck screws – either 2-inch or 3-inch, depending on the depth of the wood and the stability you need.
Tutorials for Repurposed Stair Spindle Projects
OK, time to get to the projects!
(1) The ladder.
This is actually a pretty easy project. Here’s what you need:
- Two 2×2 wood boards – I used pine.
- 2 deck screws per spindle – I used three spindles, so six deck screws. I used 3-inch deck screws here for stability.
- 3 spindles (or more – depending on what you want)
- miter saw
- 120-grit sandpaper
- finishes – paint or stain
First, decide how tall you want your ladder to be. I decided to make it 60 inches tall, given where I thought it would go in my home (a bathroom, to hold towels). Once you’ve decided how tall to make it, cut your 2x2s to that size.
Next, decide how long you want the rungs of the ladder to be and cut the spindles to that size. You can make the rungs a uniform size, or you can go from larger to smaller (bottom to top). I decided to make each rung a 1/2 inch smaller going from bottom to top, to give it an angled look.
Once everything’s cut, then predrill all of your holes. I decided to hang the spindles/rungs at 12 inches, 30 inches, and 48 inches down the sides of the ladder.
Sand down the two 2x2s to make sure all the rough edges are gone and they are smooth.
I would go ahead and stain or paint your pieces at this point. I didn’t do that here because – to be honest – I ran out of time to stain it before I taught the class (!), but this is the point at which I would have stained the sides of the ladder.
Once everything’s predrilled and dry (if you’ve stained or painted), drill the deck screws into the sides of the ladder (the 2x2s) until the tip of the screw just pokes through the other side. Then, start to screw your spindle into the part of the screw showing.
Then drill the screw the rest of the way in until secure.
Attach all the spindles to one side of the ladder first, then do the other side.
This is a great way to store towels, blankets, quilts, or scarves!
(2) The boot holder.
I actually got this idea from This Old House, but adapted it a bit. I started with two spindles and a crate, as explained in this post.
I cut the spindles to a size that would hold my rain boots – obviously, this measurement will depend on your own boot size!
Then, I predrilled all the holes – four in the bottom of the crate, spaced to give enough room to hold each boot, and holes in one end of the spindle pieces.
Using 3-inch deck screws, I screwed the spindles to the floor of the crate, screwing them in up from the bottom of the crate.
I love how the crate catches any mud or muck that falls off my boots!
You can also paint or stain the crate. I’d also add a coat of polyurethane, if it’s going to handle wet and muddy boots.
(3) Coat rack.
Super easy project.
I cut three spindles down so that the knobby part was left. I found a piece of reclaimed scrap wood in my shed.
I predrilled all the holes, then screwed the spindle pieces to the wood from the back of the reclaimed wood. Add D-rings to the back of the wood and hang.
The key to this project is making the spindle pieces’ length proportional to the board to which you are attaching them. You don’t want the spindle pieces to be so long that the wood won’t hang on the wall without tipping over and falling off the wall!
(4) Jewelry holder.
This is made the exact same way as the coat rack.
But since the wood will be flat on the table – rather than hung on the wall – the spindles can be a bit taller. Just make sure they aren’t so tall that it tips the holder over!
(5) Tiered server.
I’m not going to lie…this one gave me a little headache. But my mistakes are your gain – you won’t make the same mistakes I did!
I first tried using plates for this project, but they didn’t work. They were just too heavy to be held with the spindle pieces.
Instead, I used cake pans that I got at a yard sale for $1.50 for three. I drilled holes in the center of each pan using a drill bit designed for metal. I predrilled holes into the spindle parts.
I drilled the bottom cake pan to the middle spindle, drilling the screw up from the bottom of the pan. Then, I attached the top pan with a screw, drilling down into the bottom of the pan from the opening of the pan.
I then glued a little wooden bird I got at an estate sale on top of the screw, to hide it.
Again, an easy project. I just glued candle holders I had (from the same bag of stuff from the estate sale as the wooden bird) onto the block-looking parts of the spindles. I used a hot glue gun to attach them. Wood glue would also work.
You can also find the candle holders at craft stores.
For added stability, add a square block of wood to the bottom – just screw it in to the bottom of the candlestick. Stain or paint – but make sure to cover the candle holder part so that no paint gets in there!
(7) Don’t throw away the scraps!
As Dear Husband will tell you, I don’t throw away anything! So, when left with the scraps – a few pieces of spindle plus the little pegs from each end of the spindles – I had to make something out of them!
With the spindle piece left over, I made an angel…although, I confess, it kind of looks like a cute bat. I used a gold sharpie for the halo and funky scrapbook paper for the wings, attached with hot glue.
With the pegs, I glued them together with hot glue in a tree shape and added a green ribbon, tied in a bow and glued down.
I added a hook to the top of each one and now they’re cute Christmas ornaments!
There you go – seven projects using repurposed stair spindles! So, when you see stair spindles at a salvage store or by the side of the road, grab them and start creating!
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