Nifty Newel

Newel posts. I’ve always had a soft spot for these chunky chunks of goodness. On our last house, we had dinky little 80’s style posts at the end of our steps (like this) and I always wanted to demo that bad boy and put in a beefy newel post in it’s place. And then we moved. Story of my life … ya just can’t hold me down.

But when I went to the hardware store to start pricing out our stairwell, I was in utter dismay when I saw the price they wanted for one of my big bertha’s. $100 – a pop – and I needed (4). OUCH. So I stood there in the aisle for a while and started to ponder about the possibilities of slapping one of these little beauties together ourselves. For one, I could tell it was basically a glorified 4×4, more or less. So I smiled nice at my husband, told him how easy it would be (pep talk) and we were off to the races!

And ya know what? The project was actually pretty darn easy! Like I said, it’s basically a glorified 4×4. 😀

For your viewing pleasure, here is what we had in place of a newel before we started. An ugly half wall. Oh, and pink carpet 😉

Stair Railing Wall

So I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and with an inspiration photo in hand, we picked up the necessary goodies and got crackin. The whole shebang centered around this beauty. Ask me how much it cost 😀 $6 per newel – BAMMM! Ok, yes, there are some other things that get added to said post, but a few Georgie Washingtons is a real good place to start.

You can see in the photo below that Jay is hacking this guy right in half, since the 4×4 we purchased was 8′ total, we knew we’d be able to divide and conquer to get two newell posts from each piece of wood.

How to Build a newell post

Based on the photo’s I’ve seen of other newel posts I liked, I knew we’d have to add some extra mdf around the base to make the bottom third section a bit beefier. Jay was able to use his new table saw (worth it’s weight in gold, not sure how we ever lived without it) to cut a mitered corner, so the mdf would essentially wrap right around the base of the post.

How to use miter cut on table saw

We just used the nail gun to get each piece nice and snug to the side of the post and wrapped the mdf around the base like so.

How to Build a newell post

Another detail I knew we’d need to add was some type of trim to help smooth the transition between the new piece of mdf we cut around the base, and the 4×4 post. Lucky for us, I found some trim at Home Depot that perfectly fit the bill. Added bonus, it was under $5 for 10 feet of it, which was more than enough for each newel post. Can ya tell I’m feeling pretty good about all the moolah we saved?

I think it worked perfectly for what we needed! It’s a bit gappy around the edges, but we knew that once we caulked and painted everything, you wouldn’t be able to see these seams.

How to build Newell Post

After that first base piece is installed, the rest is really up to your imagination. I had a general idea of what I was looking for, but I think you can kind of make the newell your own by just arranging the trim on there however you like. We decided to follow a more traditional newel post pattern, with an additional chunk of trim a bit further up, and then a cap on top.

DIY Newell Post

For the cap, we improvised just a bit in order to save ourselves the extra trouble of creating something with a lip in it. We found these pieces of trim that were $3 each (no idea what they even are for!), and figured we could press two together to get the look our hearts desired. At $7 for both of them, this was the most expensive part of each newell post! Huzza!!

DIY Newell Post

Not too bad, huh? So for those trying to recreate exactly what we did at home, here is the source list and price breakdown. For each newel, we used:

  • (2) caps (above) $7
  • (1) 4×4 post, $6
  • (4) feet of trim $2 (we purchased a 10′ piece for $5)
  • MDF for base $6

If you’re counting, that’s a grand slam total of $21 per newel, vs. $100 for the pre-made option. What, what!! Both are solid wood, and this was pretty darn easy, in complete honesty. Here is a visual break down of each post.

Parts for a newell post

One learning experience for us on the newel post was that the 4×4 posts have a tendency to be a bit warped. Do yourself a favor and really look at each piece before you commit to it and bring it home. We landed up not doing that and had a few trouble spots result from the jankiness.

And – drum roll please … Here is the final newell post with a coat of paint! For $20, I’m thrilled with how they turned out!

DIY Newel Post Tutorial



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6 thoughts on “Nifty Newel

  1. It looks great. We have a smaller post at the end of our staircase that could use some beefing up, too! You guys made it look easy, but if you want to stop by and try your hand at this project again… I wouldn’t object.

  2. These look great! I’m a sucker for a fabulous newel post and I have big dreams for my staircase one day. Your post is reassuring that it can be done on a budget. I am a big big fan of $20 newel posts!

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