Spindle Spacing

 
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Old 07-19-2005, 12:13 AM   #1
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Spindle Spacing


How does one compute the spacing of the spindles on a deck over, say 12' (or any other length for that matter)?
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Old 07-19-2005, 12:23 AM   #2
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Re: Spindle Spacing


One of the deck specialists may correct me, but I think spacing has to be so that a 4" sphere cannot pass thru the spindles. If you have a 2" spindle, you can't go any more than 6" on center (actually 1/16 less, so the sphere won't pass thru).

I think I would make the first and last space a little smaller for ease of calculations....but I'm not a deck pro either.

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Old 07-19-2005, 01:12 AM   #3
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Re: Spindle Spacing


This won't hurt a bit If the distance between posts is 12' 0" and the spindles are 1.5" with a space less than 4" between spindles you will need 144/(1.5+4)=26 and change. Round it down (because you must have LESS than 4") to 26, now, 26 spindles @ 1.5"=39" of spindle, that leaves 144"-39"=105" of space between them. With 26 spindles you have 27 spaces (25 between them and one at each end) so, 105"/27=3.89" Cut yourself a spacer that big, start in the center and work both ways so that any error in the cutting of the spacer ends up equally at the ends near the posts and you're done, Did that hurt? :Thumbs:
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Old 07-19-2005, 05:42 PM   #4
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Re: Spindle Spacing


Reveivl's method will work MOST of the time, - - but to make it work ALL of the time, - - you would add 1.5" (one spindle thickness) to your original number (144), - - making it 145.5, - - then dividing by your 5.5, - - then rounding down your answer (representing your number of spindles), - - then subtracting that number (X 1.5) from your original 144, - - and then dividing that answer by the number of spindles (+1).

If, after dividing by your 5.5, your (spindle amount) answer comes out to an 'exact' whole number, - - you may choose to add one spindle, - - giving you 'less than', rather than an 'exact' 4" of spacing.

An example of where his method wouldn't work would be say, a 148" space between posts, - - 148/5.5 = 26.9, would round down to 26, which would mean 39" of baluster space, leaving 109" (148 -39) of space, then 109/27 = 4.03 - - Though of course it would be OBVIOUS you would have to go with one more spindle, - - just adding the 1.5 to your original number would avoid this ever happening.

Do heed the advice of starting in (or near) the center and working in both directions, - - but also keep in mind that only with an ODD number of spindles would you start a spindle in the EXACT center, - - with an EVEN number of spindles your center would be a 'space'.

Last edited by Tom R; 07-19-2005 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 07-19-2005, 07:00 PM   #5
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Re: Spindle Spacing


Quote:
Originally Posted by reveivl
This won't hurt a bit If the distance between posts is 12' 0" and the spindles are 1.5" with a space less than 4" between spindles you will need 144/(1.5+4)=26 and change. Round it down (because you must have LESS than 4") to 26, now, 26 spindles @ 1.5"=39" of spindle, that leaves 144"-39"=105" of space between them. With 26 spindles you have 27 spaces (25 between them and one at each end) so, 105"/27=3.89" Cut yourself a spacer that big, start in the center and work both ways so that any error in the cutting of the spacer ends up equally at the ends near the posts and you're done, Did that hurt? :Thumbs:
Just make sure you don't cut it to close. I had a job several years ago I did spacing for 3 15/16" and when the inspector came a week later we found out that the spindles had shrunk (pressure treated) more than 1/16" each which ment out spaces turned out to be 4 1/16" +. He made us rip them all off and redo it (the #!!&**). Just so you know, not to close.
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Old 07-19-2005, 09:16 PM   #6
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Re: Spindle Spacing


Tom's correct, of course, thanks Tom. Definitely something to remember, LeoG, bummer story, man. Rich.
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Old 07-20-2005, 06:47 AM   #7
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Re: Spindle Spacing


The method I actually use is just a little different, - - add the 1.5 to the 144, then divide by the 5.5 (145.5/5.5=26.45). Now round 'down' to get your number of spindles, and round 'up' to get your NEW 'divisor'.

So rounding down 26.45 down would give me 26 spindles, - - and rounding 26.45 up would give me 27 as a new 'actual' divisor. (145.5/27 = 5.39). The answer 5.39 would equal one spindle plus one space. So subtract 1.5 from your answer and you come up with the same as Reveivl's 3.89

Not saying this method is necessarily any easier, - - but it gives another choice. :Thumbs:
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Old 07-20-2005, 05:13 PM   #8
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Re: Spindle Spacing


post to post (inside to inside)= x
divide x by 5" (5.5" is about max for spacing requirements, go with 3" or 4" for a tighter fill)
round up or down to nearest whole #, that is your quantity of pickets for that particular segment.
divide x by quantity= picket spacing
subtract (1) picket thickness and divide that by 2, that is your first and last space for that segment.

this will ensure that you have equal spacing on both sides and from one segment to another.
 
Old 07-20-2005, 10:00 PM   #9
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Re: Spindle Spacing


Quote:
Originally Posted by cdac
post to post (inside to inside)= x
divide x by 5" (5.5" is about max for spacing requirements, go with 3" or 4" for a tighter fill)
To each-his-own, - - but I believe most people, - - and for that matter, most contractors, - - would prefer to have a minimum # of 'pickets', - - less money, less work, less repetition, and most importantly, a less 'busy' pattern. Most decks are built out in the open to be, - - well, - - to be open. But hey, whatever works for you!!


P.S. If you go back to the first post, - - I believe he (ouch) was asking how to compute how many spindles he 'needs', - - not how many someone 'wants'. If you, or anyone for that matter, prefers say, a 3 1/2" spacing, - - you could just make a story-board and center the pattern between posts, - - the same 'board' would work for every single job/application.

Last edited by Tom R; 07-20-2005 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 07-20-2005, 11:11 PM   #10
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Re: Spindle Spacing


I don't know about your codes but around here the spacing between balusters has to be so that a 4 inch ball won't pass between the balusters, that being the same everywhere I don't see the difference between somebody doing 3 1/2 inch spaces between balusters or using your formula in regard to saving time or money on balusters. The difference between 3 1/2 and 3 7/8 over a 6 foot run is what one extra baluster? So I don't see the point about preferring to have a minimum of balusters being the result of the formula, unless of course where you are you can have a 12 inch space between balusters.

I understand the usefulness of the baluster forumlas for uniforimity, but not in regard to saving lumber.
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Old 07-20-2005, 11:14 PM   #11
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Re: Spindle Spacing


Just to chime in with my $.02 worth...

I always space all my spindles at 3 1/2". For one, I don't have to worry about any shrinkage. And two, even though it costs me a bit more (1-2 spindles per section of railing), I would rather not have any call-backs or problems with inspectors over a 1/16th". The cost of a few spindles is nothing compared to having to take the time to go back and replace a complete section of railing, especially a few months later.

I also start at the center and work my way out on both sides. I rarely have a significant number of sections of railing that are exactly 4 feet between the posts.
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Old 07-21-2005, 04:51 AM   #12
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Re: Spindle Spacing


Quote:
Tom R wrote:
".....If you, or anyone for that matter, prefers say, a 3 1/2" spacing, - - you could just make a story-board and center the pattern between posts, - - the same 'board' would work for every single job/application." :Thumbs:
I agree with Tom R about the story board. It is the easiest way to do it. I have one for 3.5" spacing and one for 3.75" spacing (for those who don't want the 3.5" spacing)

Quote:
Decks Etc wrote:
".....I always space all my spindles at 3 1/2". For one, I don't have to worry about any shrinkage. And two, even though it costs me a bit more (1-2 spindles per section of railing), I would rather not have any call-backs or problems with inspectors over a 1/16th". The cost of a few spindles is nothing compared to having to take the time to go back and replace a complete section of railing, especially a few months later." :Thumbs:
I agree too with Decks Etc. It may cost a little more iinitially, but it is better then having to re-do the whole thing!

Another thing that can be done to minimize shrinkage is to get the balusters delivered to the job A.S.A.P. Lay them out in the sun to dry as much as possible before installing them.

Personally, I never use p/t balusters or p/t for the railings (p/t tends to twist & shrink too much) I use cedar or fir.

When I show my customers how p/t ends up looking in the long run vs. fir or cedar, they opt for one of those two choices and either have me seal it or do it themselves. I also check back the following summer to see how the deck, porch. etc. looks and to make sure the customer is happy with it.
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Old 07-21-2005, 06:38 AM   #13
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Re: Spindle Spacing


All opinions being respected, guys, my main point is the busy-ness and repetiton of 'more' balusters (which is just, of course, this man's opinion) - - I agree the time and money spent on one or two extras is trivial at best. All opinions being of 'additional' interest, - - I believe his original question on how to 'compute' the number was answered in a regimented and mathematical reply.
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Old 07-21-2005, 07:00 AM   #14
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Re: Spindle Spacing


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Finley
I understand the usefulness of the baluster forumlas for uniforimity, but not in regard to saving lumber.

The formula is not based on saving lumber, - - it is based on the CODE. Saving lumber would naturally, be a by-product of following the CODE, and ONLY the CODE. The CODE, as most of us know, provides an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM requirement. MORE is NEVER a PROBLEM. The FORMULA is the CORRECT ANSWER to his QUESTION. The FORMULA is the BASIS for the MINIMUM only.

As was stated, if the answer were to come out to an EXACT number, it would be recommended to add one baluster, therefore avoiding a 'whole' 4" space.

P.S. Points about shrinkage are well taken and should be noted by all. When or if using say, PT that is known to shrink a lot, the divisor could be changed to say, 5.3, to allow for it.
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Old 07-21-2005, 09:18 AM   #15
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Re: Spindle Spacing


Never mind I had to reread the dimensions in reference to this, now I see what you were trying to say.

Last edited by Mike Finley; 07-21-2005 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 07-23-2005, 10:04 PM   #16
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Re: Spindle Spacing


Do any of you guys use dividers to lay out baluster spacing?
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Old 07-24-2005, 08:17 AM   #17
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Re: Spindle Spacing


Not me, old, - - but I'd be more than interested to hear out your procedure.
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Old 07-24-2005, 06:57 PM   #18
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Re: Spindle Spacing


tom-

thanks for the reply..ill admit i havent done it yet..but i have some crazy formulas from another guy that says using centers is mistako numero uno.

ill dig it up and post it...

i just wish there was a book for baluster layout like there is for rafter layout...i.e if you have 88 1/4 between post and are using 1 1/2 sotck then the spacing is xyz...etc", but i digress...take care.

-old
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Old 07-25-2005, 10:08 PM   #19
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Re: Spindle Spacing


Quote:
Originally Posted by old27
Do any of you guys use dividers to lay out baluster spacing?
The only way I can THINK OF that you could use dividers, - - is to set them to 5 1/2", - - then 'walk-off' the distance from the inside of your first post to a point 1 1/2" past the inside of your second post, - - count how many 'steps' it takes to get PAST your 1 1/2" mark, - - measure the distance between the 1 1/2" mark and your 'over-step mark', - - then divide your number of steps into that difference, - - then subtract that number from 4", - - and that will give you your exact spacing. No question it would work, - - but it seems slow and primitive, - - and ultimately still makes you do some math.

I'd be interested to hear other ways of doing it.
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Old 07-25-2005, 11:05 PM   #20
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Re: Spindle Spacing


I'm suprised at you old timers not knowing about using dividers for this?

Basically all you do is find the center mark of the rail. Then figure out your spacing by adding your baluster width and the maximum space, say baluster is 2 inches + 3 1/2 inch space between = 5 1/2 inches. Set your dividers to 5 1/2 inches and start marking it off. It takes about 30 seconds start to finish, if you end up with a space a bit too small, just adjust the dividers.

The dividers are just a fast way of making the marks on the rails instead of taking the time to cut a spacing block for each rail or using a tape measure.

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