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How To Join Lengths Of Handrail

How To Join Lengths Of Handrail

How To Join Lengths Of Handrail

Depending on the size of your handrail, hallway or balustrade, it may be necessary to join shorter lengths of rail together to create one larger, continuous handrail. Which then raises a few questions, namely: how do you join two lengths of handrail, what is the best connecting method, and what fixing materials might you need?

There are many reasons you might need to join handrails onsite such as: material length, change of angles/directions, and delivery or supply limitations. Regardless of the reason for the join, there are many different methods for connecting rails. Which method you decide on depends mostly on the kind of material being used, as well as the intricacy of the handrail profile. We’ll cover some of the most popular methods below.

In short however, the most popular method for joining timber handrails is to use a dowel joint, while the most popular method for fixing metal, stainless steel or galvanised steel is to use an internal joiner. Welding is also an option for some varieties of metal handrail.

How To Join Timber Handrail

How To Join Timber Handrail With Dowel

By far the easiest and most popular method for joining timber handrail is using dowel and wood glue. Dowel joints are an extremely strong joint, as the addition of the dowel gives far more surface area for the glue to adhere to!

With that being said, where dowel joints are being used we tend to recommend supporting the handrail with additional wall brackets on either side of the join. 

Where the handrail is being mounted to the top of a balustrade, the addition of a dowel may not be necessary as the handrail is being supported from below. In those instances, wood glue on its own should be sufficient.

Dowel joints are best suited to join simple handrail designs without too many curves or edges, as lining up your dowel drill holes to exactly meet one another is far easier with simple designs such as the designer rail or signature rail. Some handrail profiles even have drilling jigs designed for exactly this purpose (shop ezirail drilling jigs, shop designer rail drilling jigs). For more intricate designs such as the ladies waist profile, it’s often far easier to use a rail bolt or zipbolt join (see below).

The process of joining two handrails with a timber dowel is simple. All you need to do is pre-drill holes (to take the dowel) on each end of the rail that need to be joined. From there, simply insert the dowel and secure using a suitable wood glue.

How To Join Timber Handrail With Zipbolts or Rail Bolts

While dowel joints are certainly the most popular method for joining timber handrails, they’re not the most flexible! When joining intricate handrail profiles, sometimes there needs to be allowance for movement or adjustment in the joint to ensure the profile matches up exactly. That’s where our range of zipbolt handrail joiners come into play!

Zipbolt connecters are most commonly used in the cabinet making industry, but they’ve increasingly become popular in staircase joinery too! Check out the video below explaining how the Zipbolt UT 13.600 Rail Bolt Handrail Joiner can be used to join two sections of rail together. 

Alternatively you can download the instructional PDF

How To Join Timber Handrail With Bends

Another popular method for joining timber handrails is to use a bend or connector. This method of fitting should only be used when you are changing angles or directions, and is similar to the dowel joint.

The difference between joining two straight lengths of dowel with a dowel joint, and joining around a corner etc. is the addition of a connector piece. These connector pieces are available for our most popular handrail profiles such as the ezirail round, ezirail flat, and designer rail. 

Where bends are not available, timber handrail can be joined around corners using a mitre joint.

How To Join Metal Handrails 

How To Join Stainless Steel Handrail With A Rail Connector

Joining two lengths of stainless steel handrail doesn’t need to be difficult, nor does it require any specialty tools. The easiest way to join stainless steel pipe is by using stainless steel glue & an internal joiner! These internal joiners are available in 50.8mm round, 50.8mm square, 38mm round and rectangular variations, depending on your preference.

These joiners simply slide into your handrail/pipe, and are glued into place. It’s important that you use a suitable stainless steel glue, and that your join is supported from either side (using a handrail bracket or similar). This will prevent the join from weakening over time.

How To Join Stainless Steel Handrail With Bends

Similar to the previous joining method, stainless steel handrail can also be joined using internal fit bends and fittings. These can be secured using either a waterproof stainless steel glue, or welded into place.

These bends are especially useful when you are looking to join handrails that are changing angles or directions, such as on landings or around corners. Adjustable bends can be used in instances where the desired angle is not yet known. Alternatively, fixed angled options are often also available! Some of the most popular angles for staircases include 35 degree, 180 degree and 90 degree bends.

Bends and fittings are also a fantastic way to finish off your handrail, with end caps and terminating bends also available.

How To Join Galvanised Steel Handrail With Fittings

Similar to stainless steel handrails, galvanised steel handrails are often joined with fittings. While internal fit joiners are available for some pipe sizes, the more popular method for joining is external connectors.

With that being said, it’s important to note that external fit connectors are often not suitable in commercial settings as a continuous, non obstructed handrail is required in these circumstances. You can read more about this in our articles on Understanding Australian Handrail & Balustrade Standards or Choosing The Right Handrail For The Elderly Or Disabled as it pertains to the Australian building standard for mobility and accessibility (AS 1428.1:2021).

In these instances, one of our disability rail connectors should be used in lieu of the external fit range.

The majority of galvanised steel modular fittings are secured to the rail using a grub screw only. This connection is often more than sufficient, however can be strengthened by spot welding over the grub screw for extra security.

Other Methods For Joining Steel Handrails

Many steel handrails can also be joined by welding the two ends together. This is not a particularly DIY friendly approach to joining however, so in these instances we always recommend consulting a professional. 


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