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Frequently Asked Questions

Accessories Back to Top

Question Answer
1. Are L.J. Smith brackets made of plywood? Our brackets are made from lumber and may be edge-glued. Some of our competitors have offered theirs in plywood which, when stained, is unattractive along the edges.
2. At what intervals should wall rail brackets be placed? Ideally at every 2-3’ interval.
3. When is an oval rosette used? When is a round rosette used? When is a rectangular rosette used? There are several different answers: Oval for narrow handrails and round for wider rails. Oval for wall end width, usually only 4 1/2”. Oval for rake finish or round for level finish. Rectangular for rake finish or level finish. Could even be mixed throughout the system.
4. What is the measurement from the wall to the centerline of the rail when using the LJ-3027, LJ-3127 and the LJ-3012 wall rail brackets? From the wall to the centerline of our wall rail brackets is 2 ¾”.
5. Are there different sizes of bits available for the Bore Buster? Yes, we do offer other sizes of bits that do not come standard with the Bore Buster. Call customer service for pricing and availability.
6. What do you do if the angle on an angled iron baluster shoe needs to be different? To adjust the angled shoe to the desired slope, grind the short side to make it steeper and grind the long side to make it flatter.
7. What style of rosette is best used for the rake rail terminating into the wall? LJ-7027 or LJ-7033. Either of these rosettes can also be used with a level rail terminating into the wall.

Balusters Back to Top

Question Answer
1. What is the difference between LJ-line and S-line balusters? Balusters - LJ line has 3 lengths, trimmed from the bottom for length, and the bottom blocks flow with rake of the stair. LJ-line also has the removable PIN E-Z. S-line has 5 lengths, trimmed from the top, and bottom blocks align evenly with each step.
2. Why would L.J. Smith eliminate the 31" baluster when that is what is used for kneewall stiars? We offer 31" balusters in the LJ-5004, LJ-5005, LJ-5015 & the LJ-5141 styles. These balusters are not pre-drilled for the LJ-Pin E-Z. They are specifically for use on a kneewall.
3. What are L.J. Smith iron balusters made of? Mild steel, a carbon alloy of iron, which is much stronger than wrought iron.
4. Can the solid and hollow iron be mixed on a job? We do not recommend mixing them on the same job because the details and the finishes may not match between the solid balusters and the hollow balusters.
5. Why doesn't LJ Smith package a dowel-fast screw with each wood baluster. The screw threads would mar the surface of the baluster and the expense would be too great to packag them in order to prevent damage.
6. Can the set screws for iron shoes be purchased separately? Yes. Multiple sizes of set screws are used in our iron shoes. Please provide the shoe item number to customer service in order to identify the required set screw item number.
7. What size Allen wrench is needed for the iron shoe set screws? 2mm, 2.5mm and 3mm, depending on the shoe being installed. Contact customer service for details.
8. How many holes will the Epoxy Adhesive kits fill? The LI-3701 Contractor Kit will fill approximately 120 holes. The LI-3704 and LI3705 will fill approximately 35 holes.
9. What is the preferred method for installing wood balusters? Dowel-fast screws because of the obvious strength that this method adds to the installed balustrade. (See the L.J. Smith Balustrade Installation Guide)
10. Which balusters are not pre-drilled? Why does L.J. Smith pre-drill? How deep is the drill hole? Contemporary LJ-5060, LJ-5360, LJ-5370 & LJ-5070 (including the fluted, chamfered & V-Groove) styles and standard S-line balusters are not predrilled. LJ-5060/5360 are not drilled due to potential installation on the outside of face board. S-line balusters have a turned pin. LJ-line balusters are predrilled to accommodate the PIN-EZ or dowel-fast screw. The drill hole is approximately 3" deep.
11. What if I trim off my pre-drilled hole or want to use dowel-fast screws with LJ-5060, 5360, 5070 or 5370 styles? Recommend LJ-3035 Centaur, LJ-3033 Dowel Runner and LJ-3036 Dowel-fast tap. The LJ-3035 will not accommodate a round baluster (5070/5370 styles).
12. What are the standard baluster sizes? Square sizes are: 1 1/4", 1 3/4", & 1 5/8". Lengths for LJ line are: 34" 38" & 42". Lengths for S line; 31" 34" 36" 39" & 42".
13. What type of balusters are used with plowed rail? Square top.
14. What is the sphere rule? The sphere rule refers to the spacing between balusters allowed by code. Currently, there are 4" and 6" sphere codes.
15. What is the advantage of the LJ line of balusters in comparison to the industry standard? Industry standard balusters do not allow for consistent block or turning alignment under the handrail. The LJ baluster line offers many advantages: Lengths are 34", 38", and 42". Fewer lengths mean fewer stock outages. Turning sizes do not vary with the length of the baluster only the bottom block length. The are easily trimmed for versatility. Designed for consistent block and turning alignment underneath the handrail. Pre-drilled to accommodate Dowel-Fast screws resulting in a stronger installation and less labor.
16. What type of baluster would be needed for LJ-6210P handrail? Any 1 3/4" square top would be correct.
17. What type of baluster would be needed for LJ-6109P handrail? 6109 plowed handrail is available in both 1 1/4" plow and 1 3/4" plow to accommodate 1 1/4" or 1 3/4" square top balusters. The part number designation is LJ-6109P0 for 1 1/4" and LJ6109P1 for 1 3/4".
18. Does L.J. Smith offer the "candle-stick" or "pool cue" baluster? Yes. The part number is LJ-5040 or S-5040.
19. What are some of the features of the L.J. Smith iron line? Available Hollow or Solid in Round and Square Styles. Stock sizes: 1/2", 9/16”, 5/8” or 3/4" by 44” long. Six different finishes. Shoes with and without set screws.
20. What is the angle of the L.J. Smith iron and aluminum angled shoes? Why? The angle varies by the shoe style. The angle on the following shoes is 36 degrees: LI-PSH02, LI-R09P, LI-H05P and LI-ALMGPSH08. The following shoes have a 39 degree angle: LI-ALPSH02 & LI-ALH05P. Any of our shoes can be ground or filed to a custom angle.
21. What is referred to as baluster spacing? The maximum spacing permitted between balusters. This will determine the number of balusters required for each tread. Always check your local building codes.
22. Describe how to find the balustrade centerline. On a kneewall stair, the balustrade should be centered on the kneewall. On an open-tread stair, the centerline should be one half of the baluster square in from the face of the skirtboard. (Skirtboard and treads must be installed.) Hint: The outside baluster bottom block should line up with the treads miter return joint. This method requires the notching of newels.
23. Describe how to find the number of balusters required per tread and their center-to-center equal spacing. Divide the run by the code spacing specification and round up to nearest whole number. This equals the number of balusters per tread. Then, divide the run by the number of balusters required for the center-to-center measurement. Ex.: If the run is 10" and the maximum spacing required by code is 4"; 10 divided by 4 equals 2 1/2 - round up to 3 balusters per tread. Then, 10" run divided by 3 balusters equals 3.333" or 3 11/32" centerto-center. Note: the first baluster of each tread should be half a baluster square back from the face of the riser
24. What numbers do the balusters begin with? Wood: LJ-5xxx, LJP-2xxx/LJF-2xxx/LJT-2xxx/LJB-2xxx, S-5xxx, LI- (solid iron), LIH- (hollow iron)
25. How do you fix a nick on wood (primed) or iron balusters? Do you have touch-up paint? We have been told by others that Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Interior Alkyd Satin in Extra White is compatible to the -PRG primer. For our iron balusters, we offer a touch-up paint pen for each finish color. The item number is LJ-PEN.
26. When ordering the "S" line baluster is the pin included in the length of the baluster? Yes, that is why you must trim the top of the "S" line balusters if necessary.
27. Are the Iron Balusters available pre-finished? Yes, we offer a powder-coat finish of Satin Black, Matte Black, Silver Vein and Antique Bronze, Oil Rubbed Bronze and Oil Rubbed Copper. If the customer wants a finish that’s not mentioned, they must supply a sample of the color they want so LJ Smith can quote it.
28. How do you install square top balusters into plowed handrail? The balusters are installed using wood glue and toenails. Fillet is then used between the balusters to hide the toenails. . (See the L.J. Smith Balustrade Installation Guide)
29. Do the pins in the bottom of the balusters have to be used? Is there another way of installation? No, the pins (LJ-PIN E-Z) are included with the balusters as one option of installation. The other option is using Dowel-Fast Screws (LJ-3076). These screws are full threaded to attach balusters to treads and landing treads. (See the L.J. Smith Balustrade Installation Guide)
30. Can the balusters be cut down? Yes, the "LJ" line balusters can be cut down from the bottom and the "S" line balusters can be cut down from the top.
31. How far should the balusters be spaced apart? There are two common baluster spacings, 4" rule or 6" rule. The 4" rule is the one most commonly used, but it should be confirmed with the local building inspector.
32. What lengths are available in the "LJ" line balusters? 34", 38", and 42". For kneewall applications we offer 31" in LJ-5004, LJ-5005, LJ-5015 & LJ-5141 styles.
33. What lengths are available in the "S" line balusters? 31", 34", 36", 39" and 42".
34. What is the box quantity for 1 ¼" balusters? What is the box quantity 1 ¾"balusters? The 1 ¼" balusters are packaged 40 per box with the exception of the 5015's which are 50 per box. The 1 ¾" balusters are packaged 25 per box.
35. What does the P, F, B, and T, stand for in the prefix of some balusters such as the LJP-2015, LJF-2015, LJB-2915 and LJT-2015? The P means Plain Turning, the F stands for Fluted Turning, the B stands for Beaded Turning, and the T equals Twisted Turning.
36. What size balusters are needed for standard volutes? How many? The standard volutes require 4 or 6 of the 1 ¼" balusters or 4 of the 1 ¾" balusters. For a 30" - 34" rake rail height, use 38" balusters and for a 34" - 38" rake rail height, use 42" balusters.
37. Is the LJ-PIN E-Z strong enough? Our tests lead us to the conclusion that they are strong enough. We’ve been providing them with millions of balusters over many years without complaint.
38. What is the process for ordering custom pre-finished Iron Balusters? Once a finish has been quoted (if sample has been provided), the customer must fax in a purchase order. The Customer Service Account Specialist will request an Iron Baluster sample in the color that was quoted and once done will send it to the customer. The customer must sign an authorization sheet and fax back to LJ Smith. When the signed authorization is received by the CSAS, the order will get processed.
39. How do I determine the balustrade centerline? On an open-tread stair, the centerline should be ½ of the baluster square in from the face of the skirtboard. It can, also, easily be laid out by using the L.J. Smith Centerline Tool (C-88).
40. How do you determine the number of balusters per tread? The first baluster of each tread should be ½ the baluster square back from the face of the riser. Divide the run by the required number of balusters per tread to find the center-to-center distance for the other balusters. (Ex. Run = 10", Baluster Spacing = 4"; 10 / 4 = 2 ½ spaces per each tread. Round this up to 3 balusters per tread. 10 / 3 = 3.333 center-to-center.)
41. Are the Dowel-Fast screws weather resistant? Although we do not recommend that our components are for exterior use, the Dowel-Fast Screws are zinc-yellow-di-chromate plated which means they will resist rust and could be used outdoors. They also do not have an oil coating that could mar the wood and/or wood finish.
42. What is IronPro? What finishes are they available in? IronPro is iron baluster fasteners that makes remodeling a stairway from wood balusters to iron balusters very easy to do. IronPro is also ideal for new stairway construction too. Two different kits are available: LI-PROLVL is for open tread stairways and LI-PROKNE is for kneewall stairs. Both kits are available in satin black powder coat finish.

Customer Service Back to Top

Question Answer
1. Can I buy direct from L.J. Smith? L.J. Smith markets through wholesale distributors, retailers, dealers and lumberyards. Please contact our customer service specialists for a list of companies in your area who sell L.J. Smith products.
2. Is the strength of the stair determined by the size of newels and balusters? No, it depends on the installation. The installation of the newels is the strength of the system.
3. Can L.J. Smith make stair parts in Pine? Yes, we offer Southern yellow pine, Douglas fir, and Eastern white pine. However, some laminated items may not be available due to the moisture content of pine which will result in bowing and cracking. Please provide a list of items and quantities for quote.
4. Have L.J. Smith's primed wood and powder-coated iron balusters been tested for lead content? The materials employed in the coating of our imported primed wooden balusters and imported powder-coated iron have been independently tested by qualified laboratories and have been found not to exceed limits for the lead as specified by the Consumer Products Safety Commission of the United Sates of America.
5. Why does your cherry have color variations? Since the introduction of our cherry product offering in 1990, we have been manufacturing from natural cherry raw materials. Natural means that the material consists of both heartwood and sapwood. And, although we make every effort to color match the wood during manufacturing, we cannot guarantee that the products will be perfectly color matched. Even if we were to use all heartwood (or all sapwood), there would still be variances in color because there are many shades of red within heartwood and many shades of cream within sapwood

Fittings Back to Top

Question Answer
1. How can you ensure a square cut on a fitting with a cap? Use a 5/8" spacer (shim) between the fitting and the miter saw. (See the L.J. Smith Conect-A-Kit Instructions or Balustrade Installation Guide)
2. When do you use a machine bolt for Conect-A-Kit? To assemble CAK to CAK and when you attach an easing to a CAK fitting. (See the L.J. Smith Conect-A-Kit Instructions or Balustrade Installation Guide)
3. On a climbing volute, there are three holes drilled, what are they for? One is for the newel, one is for the first baluster, and the last is a machine locator hole, which on occasion may need to be plugged for the baluster spacing. (See the L.J. Smith Climbing Volute Template or Balustrade Installation Guide)
4. How is the LJ-7009 returned end used? Used as a finished end when handrail is used as a wall rail and to make a Post-to-Post landing fitting assembly. (See the L.J. Smith Conect-A-Kit Instructions or Balustrade Installation Guide)
5. Are the standard volutes Conect-A-Kit? Yes and no. The upeasing is pre-drilled and the bottom is removable for ease in installation. The cap portion of the volute does not come off.
6. Are the climbing volutes Conect-A-Kit? No, they are designed to climb and turn at the same time and are not machined to be Conect-a-Kit.
7. Why aren't the L.J. Smith turnouts and volutes manufactured with a removable cap as in ConectA-Kit? There is no need for access for a connection other than to bolt to newel.
8. What species of wood is not available with Conect-A-Kit? Hemlock and Alder.
9. How can the Conect-A-Kit be faster than rail bolts? Spline nails? Conect-a-Kit (CAK) has removable top lids or bottom fillets so the installation hardware can quickly be installed, whereas rail bolts are installed on the bottom into very tight holes. CAK probably isn't faster than spline nails but it is certainly a stronger and longer lasting joint. CAK provides glue bonds that are pressure activated. Spline connections are not pressure activated, therefore, are not durable long term.
10. Will L.J. Smith 42" balusters work under a landing fitting assembly? It depends on the rail height and the angle of the stairway. If it isn't long enough, a custom made baluster may be in order. Another method would be to add a block to the bottom of the baluster and/or cut the baluster at the top on an angle and use a finish nail into the rail.
11. Can I still get a gooseneck fitting? L.J. Smith offers gooseneck fittings in most rail profiles.
12. Do climbing volutes require a custom-sized starting step? No, not customed sized, but the standard starting step with the larger bullnose should be used (LJ-8310 or LJ-8315).
13. Is a quarterturn available plowed? No. A quarterturn does not need to accommodate balusters because of its location (corner) on the installed stairway.
14. Are climbing volutes available plowed? No. They are designed to climb and turn at the same time and are not machined with a plow. We recommend taper top balusters be used with climbing volutes.
15. Rail bolt installation requires a 1" hole drilled in the bottom of the rail. How can this be done with a wall rail and fitting? Another method would be to use the dowel-fast screws, but this also requires that all fittings be attached to the rail before attaching to the wall.
16. What is an alternative to using an S wall fitting? Using two level quarterturns.
17. What is a vertical volute? Commonly referred to as a Ram's horn or snails head starting fitting. Part number is LJ-7X38.
18. What does SB stand for? Solid Bottom - a feature of the Conect-a-Kit fitting.
19. What fittings are available to start an over-thepost system? Starting easing, turnouts (2 sizes), volutes (2 types) and vertical volute.
20. How do you determine whether to use a left-hand or right-hand volute? All fittings are "handed" according to standing at the bottom of the stair looking up.
21. Can fittings be used with a post-to-post system? Yes
22. What is the advantage of the Conect-A-Kit fittings? No rail bolts required and tremendous flexibility. Seven CAK fittings used in combination will make up 26 different landing fitting assemblies (goosenecks). All CAK fittings have a base with machined pockets and removable top lid or bottom filler for easy installation.
23. What are the five types of starting fittings? Climbing volute, standard volute, turnout, vertical volute and starting easing with cap.
24. Which end of the upeasing should be trimmed? There is a factory stamp "cut this end" applied. Suggest to installers that they mark the end after they cut the stamp off should additional trimming be required.
25. Should all Conect-A-Kit fittings be trimmed before or after the lid/bottom is removed? Always measure and trim before removing the lid or bottom. Note: Remove all factory glue from pockets before final fit and assembly.
26. How do you determine a fitting part number so that it matches the handrail profile? When ordering a handrail fitting, the second digit of the fitting part number indicates the matching rail profile. Ex.: LJ-7010=6010, 7110=6109, 7210=6210, 7410=6400, 7510=6519, 7610=6601, 7710=6701, 7910=6901, 7A10=6A01, 7B10=6B01,
27. Are handrail fittings available plowed? If so, what is the part number designation? Yes. Handrail fittings that are used where square top balusters will be placed can be plowed. When ordering a plowed fitting, use a "P" suffix. LJ-7210P.
28. What makes the climbing volute different from the standard L.J. Smith Conect-A-Kit volute? Climbing volutes provide a more attractive alternative to the extra long newel post required with a standard volute on a starting step. The newel height with a climbing volute will be approximately 4 1/2" lower than with a standard volute. Climbing volutes require a larger bullnose starting step (LJ-8310 or LJ-8315). Climbing volutes are not Conect-a-Kit.
29. Which seven Conect-A-Kit fittings can be used in combination to make up at least 26 gooseneck assemblies? LJ-7X09, LJ-7X11, LJ-7X12, LJ-7X19, LJ-7X20, LJ-7X21, and LJ-7XRD
30. Which handrail fitting needs to be used to cover an Over-the-post half newel? Use the opening cap that corresponds to the handrail to cover the newel. The fitting cap will need to be cut on the job to the appropriate length.
31. What numbers do the fittings begin with? Conect-A-Kit fittings: LJ-7xxx. S-line fittings: S-7xxx
32. What is the difference between LJ-line and S-line fittings? LJ-line fittings are Conect-A-Kit. No rail bolts required, 7 fittings to make 26 assemblies. S-line fittings are industry standard gooseneck assemblies.
33. Why aren't there any fittings for the 6000, 6001, 6002, 6003, 6005, and 6203 profiles of rail? These particular profiles are designed for post-to-post application. Also, the profile makes it difficult to secure the blanks to the router.
34. Are Conect-a-Kit fittings available without the 45-degree miter cut? Yes. Conect-a-Kit fittings can be custom quoted with no miter.
35. Should you remove the fillet before cutting the necessary angle on the Conect-a-Kit fittings? No. Always cut the angle of the fitting BEFORE removing the fillet.
36. Why aren't coped ends available for any other profile than the LJ-6010, LJ-6210 & LJ-6A10? Other rail profiles have too much detail on the sides to cope the end. Attempting to cope the end would cause splintering, chipping and breakage of the material, which could be potentially dangerous to manufacture.
37. Do the upeasings come with volutes, turnouts or opening caps in the Conect-a-Kit series of fittings or do they need to be ordered separately? Yes. The Conect-a-Kit series fittings come with the upeasing unattached.
38. Why are some of the Conect-a-Kit fittings, like the quarter turn with cap and the tandem cap, not plowed? Some of the Conect-a-Kit fittings are not plowed because of the mitered ends. Once they are cut, there is no room on the fitting to accommodate a baluster.
39. Why are the climbing volutes not recommended for the bowed starting steps? The radius of the bowed starting steps is not large enough to accommodate the necessary 7-1/4" radius for climbing volutes.
40. What is the difference in the two types of turnouts (the LJ-**41 vs. LJ-**40)? The LJ-**41 has a smaller turnout portion in comparison to the LJ-**40. The LJ-**41 requires one baluster under the turnout with the newel post; measures 5-3/4" across the turnout and is 2 7/8" from the newel post to the centerline of the rail. The LJ-**40 requires two balusters under the turnout with the newel post; measures 7-3/4" across the turnout and is 4-7/8" from the newel to the centerline of the rail.
41. Are there fittings available for the hemlock profiles of rail? Yes. Fittings are available for hemlock profiles of rail in the S-line series of fittings. No Conect-a-Kit hemlock fittings are available.
42. Is a fitting available at a 45 degree angle? Yes, we do make a fitting with a 45 degree angle. Always ask if the stairs are turning at a 45 degree angle. Most of the time this is the case. Therefore, the customer would want to order a fitting that is 135 degrees.
43. What are the basic components that make up Conect-A-Kit? The basic components are the Returned End, Quarterturn, Upeasing, Opening Cap, Tandem Cap, Quarterturn w/ Cap, and Rail Drop.
44. How do you determine where to cut the upeasing? Mark the tangent point on the easing with the "rise" leg of the pitchblock. Mark the cut line on the easing with the "run" leg of the pitchblock. (See the L.J. Smith Conect-A-Kit Instructions or Balustrade Installation Guide)
45. How do you attach the upeasing to the handrail? Use the Rail Marking Template to mark the handrail. Drill a ¼" x 1 ½" deep pilot hole in the handrail. Assemble the upeasing to the rail with a 5/16" x 3 ½" lag bolt and washer. (See the L.J. Smith Conect-A-Kit Instructions or Balustrade Installation Guide)
46. Why does the Returned End, Quarterturn, Tandem Cap, Quarterturn w/ Cap, and Opening Cap come with mitered ends? Both ends of the quarterturns are mitered in cases when they will be attached to the Rail Drop which is also mitered at the top. This gives you the ability to make the quarterturns left hand or right hand. The Returned End, Tandem Cap, and Opening Cap are also mitered so they can be attached to the Rail Drop. (See the L.J. Smith Conect-A-Kit Instructions or Balustrade Installation Guide)
47. How do you install the Quarterturn to the Upeasing? Square cut the quarterturn on one of the mitered ends to make it LH or RH. Mark and trim the upeasing according to the "rise" and "run" of the pitchblock. Assemble the single pocket end of the upeasing to the quarterturn using a 5/16" x 2 ¼" machine bolt and nut. Use a 3/8" washer on the bolt head end and a 3/8" washer with 5/16" lock washer on the nut end. (See the L.J. Smith Conect-A-Kit Instructions or Balustrade Installation Guide)
48. How do you mark and trim the Rail Drop? Once the Rail Drop, Quarterturn, second flight Upeasing, and second flight rail have been installed, clamp the assembly to the stair tread nosings using bar clamps. The starting fitting and first flight handrail should already be clamped down to the tread nosings, also. Tack-nail 4"-6" wide pieces of plywood to the underside of the Rail Drop and handrail. Place the trimmed easing on the plywood seats so that the top of the easing is level. Mark the Rail Drop where the easing ends. Trim the Rail Drop at this mark. (See the L.J. Smith Conect-A-Kit Instructions or Balustrade Installation Guide)

Hardware Back to Top

Question Answer
1. Are the tapered plugs available in 1 1/2"? Yes. Item LJ-3003-(specie)
2. Is the plate for the LJ-3006 available separately? Yes. Item LJ-3006-Plate
3. Does the LJ-3006-PLATE come with the screws? No. Item LJ-3006-1 is for the screws only. Includes 13 screws.
4. Is the LJ-3008 available with a smaller lag bolt? Yes. Order the LJ-3008-10. The lag is 10 3/4".
5. What is the recommended newel mounting hardware on cement? LJ-3005 Keylock Post Fastener.
6. What newels include the LJ3007HDWE kit? All over-the-post (OTP) Utility Newels. The hardware kit may also be ordered separately using part number LJ-3007HDWE-x.
7. How long is the rail bolt in the LJ-3079? The rail bolt measures 3-1/2".
8. Can the molding only for the LJ-3006 be ordered? Yes, the part# is LJ-3006MLDG-(specie). The screws can be purchase separately; item LJ-3006-1.
9. What is the Centaur? The Centaur (LJ-3035) is an installation tool that centers a 9/32" hole in the baluster bases for dowel screws. It fits the 1 ¼" and 1 ¾" balusters and it doubles as a drill bit guide and a centering device.
10. Does hardware come with the Conect-A-Kit fitting? What type of hardware is supplied? Yes. Depending upon the fitting, each will come with the appropriate size lag bolt with nut and washer; and machine bolt, rail bolt pack, and/or handrail template where applicable.
11. Is the LJ-3004 as strong as the turned pin? While we haven’t performed any official strength tests, we have previously utilized them on our custom stairways for many years with no complaint, as well as, selling tens of thousands of them without complaint.

Miscellaneous Back to Top

Question Answer
1. What are the L.J. Smith standard species? Available hardwoods are red oak, poplar, beech, cherry and maple. Softwood is hemlock. Primed balusters are also available.
2. Can L.J. Smith provide other wood species? Yes. Many other wood species are available for quoting upon request. Please provide a list of the items and approximate quantities for a quote.
3. What is the difference between laminated, edge-glued, veneered, and engineered? Laminated is glued for thickness or height; edge-glued is for width as in treads and risers; veneered is thinly wrapped and backed with paper; and engineered refers to a glued-up core over which a 1/8" layer is laminated.
4. What is a kneewall stair? The treads are closed in by a semi-wall that ascends with the rake of the stair. Requires the use of shoerail and fillet.
5. What is an open stair? The treads are open and the balusters are placed directly on the treads.
6. Can you mix over-the-post and post-to-post in the same stair system? Yes. Generally you see a system started with over-the-post and then transition into post-to-post at landings and balconies.
7. What is the rake? Pitch of the stairway or angle of the stairway. Also referred to as the degree of ascent.
8. What is the run? Horizontal measurement from the face of one riser to the face of the next riser. This is the depth of the tread without the nosing.
9. What is a floor-to-floor finish height? This is the distance from the top of the finished flooring material at the bottom of the stairway to the finished flooring material at the top of the stairway. This is the total rise of the stairway.
10. What is referred to as the headroom? It is the distance measured vertically from the top of any tread to anything you might hit your head on. Codes generally say a stair should have a minimum of 6'8" of headroom.
11. What are the two main requirements for a stairway? 1 - To look good. 2 - To be strong.
12. What is the difference between an Over-the-post and a Post-to-post stair system? In a post-to-post stair system, the handrail runs between the newel posts. In an over-the-post system, the handrails run over the newel posts.
13. Why is it important that the baluster choice corresponds to the handrail choice? Balusters are manufactured on a square size of either 1 1/4" or 1 3/4", therefore, the handrail width must correspond to the baluster size. (Hemlock baluster squares are 1 1/4" or 1 5/8")
14. Does L.J. Smith recommend the use of nails for stair installation? To avoid squeaks, L.J. Smith recommends avoiding the use of nails wherever possible. Use woodscrews, lag bolts, rail bolts and assembly glue on all joints.
15. How is the rake rail height measured? The rake rail height is the measurement from the tip of the nosing on the front edge of the tread to the top of the handrail. This measurement must be code compliant if, in fact, a code is enforced.
16. What are the two types of stair systems? Post-to-Post (PTP) and Over-the-Post (OTP). The PTP system has the handrail going between the newels and the OTP system has the handrail over the newels.
17. Can the L.J. Smith products be used for the exterior? No, they are manufactured for interior use only.
18. Are custom species available such as Mahogany or White Oak? Yes. L.J. Smith products can be manufactured in many other species but must be quoted for price and availability.
19. What ways can you start an Over-the-Post system? It can be started with a Starting Easing with Cap, a Standard Volute, a Climbing Volute, a Vertical Volute, or a Turnout.
20. How can you ensure a solid and durable installation? By using wood screws, lag bolts, rail bolts, and wood glue on all joints.
21. How do you make a pitchblock? A pitchblock can be made in two ways. Option #1, use the triangular piece of off-fall from the stringer. Option # 2, use a piece of plywood. Clamp a piece of handrail to the nosing of the treads. Set the plywood on one tread and against the nose of the next tread. Mark and trim along the underside of the handrail. (See the L.J. Smith Balustrade Installation Guide)

Newels Back to Top

Question Answer
1. How do I install L.J. Smith box newels? Most of our box newels are packaged with a mounting block and detailed installation instructions. The balance of our box newels are solid inside and can be installed using standard newel mounting methods.
2. What is the best way to attach a newel post? Which L.J. Smith installation product is more sturdy? All depends upon the application and how it is installed. Generally, attaching a newel post to the structural portion of the floor system is strongest.
3. What is the "strength" of the stair? Newel posts are the balustrade components that provide the strength of the stair. If they are not properly installed, a stair will not be stable. Newels posts should be placed everywhere a stair changes direction.
4. At what intervals should newel posts be placed on level runs? On level runs over 10 feet, newel posts should be placed at every 5-6' interval.
5. What kind of newel post is used with a vertical volute? A continuous rake newel with a taper top. Either LJ-4013PT or LJ-3513PT.
6. Is the newel post placement the same with a vertical volute? It is common to place the post at the back of the tread in this application.
7. What is the size of the newel pin tops? The top pin on Over-the-Post pin top newels is 3/4" in diameter. Continuous rake taper top newels (LJ-4013PT or LJ-3513PT) are 1" in diameter.
8. What numbers do the newels begin with? Newels: LJ-4xxx, LJP-3xxx, LJF-3xxx, LJT3xxx or LJB-3xxx.
9. What are the three newel top block sizes (LJ-line) and what is their purpose? 5", 11" and 14 1/2" - also called face blocks - area where handrail is attached. 5" is generally used as starting newel but may be used at landings with a gooseneck. Newels with longer blocks are used for intermediate and 2nd floor landings when not using a gooseneck.
10. What is the advantage of LJ-line Over-the-Post newels in comparison to industry standard dowel pin newels? Doweled newels require drilling through the starting step and installing a lag bolt through the bottom of the starting step. Doweled newels also lock the installer into a particular handrail height. LJ newels require drilling only through the tread and all the assembly is done on top of the starting step. Because LJ newels have no dowel pin, they are easily trimmed for a variety of rail heights.
11. What is the advantage of LJ-line Post-to-Post newels in comparison to industry standard? Most industry standard newels do not have long enough blocks for some applications at current handrail heights. (13" versus ours of 14 1/2") Center turning lengths have also been adjusted on the LJ line to solve most installation problems.
12. What is the purpose of a utility newel? This newel is generally used as the starting newel on all stairs and varies in height from 43" to 58" depending upon style. The utility newel is also often used on level runs.
13. What is the purpose of a 2nd floor landing newel? This newel has an 11" top block and a shorter turning length than the utility newel. This newel is 58" in height. It is used on a 2nd floor landing when a landing fitting assembly is not used. Located at the point where a rake handrail and a level handrail intersect.
14. What is the purpose of a Post to Post intermediate landing newel? This newel can be ordered with a 5" or a 14 1/2" face/top block. The 14 1/2" top block newel has a shorter turning length than both the utility newel and the 2nd floor landing newel. The intermediate landing newel varies in height from 58" to 78". Located at a point where the rake rails intersect.
15. What is the newel square size(s)? Newel square size varies with style. L.J. Smith has 3", 3 1/4", and 3 1/2" turned newels and three sizes of box newels: 3 ½", 4 ¼", 4 ½", 5 ½", 6 1/4" and 7 1/2". 4" square chamfered top S4S newels are also available.
16. Is the moulding replaceable on the box newels? We have known the mouldings or caps to be replaced but cannot guarantee that removal and replacement would be successful every time.
17. What determines the length of the utility newel in a Post to Post stair system? For 30-34" rake handrail height, use the shortest utility newel. For a 34"-38" rake handrail height, use the longest utility newel. Select one for each side with handrail.
18. Should balcony newels (face size) match the utility, intermediate, or 2nd flooring landing of a Post to Post stair system? Ideally, balcony newels should match the face size of the 2nd floor landing newels unless a landing fitting assembly is used throughout the system with 5" face utility newels.
19. What is unique about the LJ-4050 and LJ-4060. Both newels are turned bottom (round) and are 2 1/4" and 2 3/4" respectively, in diameter. Ideally, they are only used as a starting newel. Half newels are not available in these two styles.
20. How far in height on the inside of the LJ-4091 is hollow? The box newel is hollow up to the face of the newel.
21. What is the inside dimensions of the LJ-4092, LJ4093, LJ-4094, LJ-4095, LJ-4096, LJ-4097 box newel? The inside dimension of the bottom block is 6", the center block is 4-1/2" and the top block is solid.
22. Is the molding available for the LJ-4092, LJ4093, LJ-4094, LJ-4095, LJ-4096, LJ-4097 box newels? Yes. LJ-8078 is the profile for the top molding, LJ-9200 is the profile of the center molding and LJ-9201 is the profile for the bottom block.
23. Will LJ-4091, LJ-4092, LJ-4093, LJ-4094, LJ4095, LJ-4096, LJ-4097 box newels fit on the standard starting step? Yes. All of these box newels will fit on the LJ8040, 8440, 8640, 8060, 8460, 8660, 8030, and 8050 starting steps.
24. What is the inside dimension of the hollow bottom of the LJ-4091? 4 ¾" x 4 ¾"
25. Where do you suggest putting newels? At the beginning, end, and anywhere there's a change in direction. (For a run of 10 ft or more, we recommend putting a newel every 5-6'.)
26. Are the box newels solid? No, most are hollow except the top block which is solid. However, the LJ-4075, LJ-4075-50 and LJ4391 are completely solid.
27. How tall is the shortest post-to-post utility newel? 48"
28. How tall is the longest post-to-post utility newel? 58"
29. What size are the top blocks of the Post to Post utility newels? 5"
30. What size are the top blocks of the Post to Post intermediate newels? 14 ½"
31. What size are the top blocks of the Post to Post 2nd Floor Landing Newels? 11"
32. Some newels are used for 2-winder or 3-winder. What does that mean? These newels such as the LJP-3255 are used for a landing that has 2 or 3 winders. The winders are pie-shaped treads that make up the landing and also make the staircase a continuous rise. Because of the continuous rise, the longer newels are needed.
33. Does any hardware come with the Over the Post utility newels? Yes. The LJ-3007HDWE kit comes with the OTP utility newels. It includes 1 hanger bolt, 1 steel insert, 1 installer bolt, 2 installer hex-nuts, 2 lag bolts w/ washers, 2 wood plugs, 1 perforated metal strip, and installation sheet.
34. Is it possible to move the newel away from the stairs? Yes, however, by doing so you will be changing the rake rail height. By moving the newel away from the stairs, the handrail height will increase. The handrail height will decrease if the newel is moved toward the stairs. Moving the newel 1" will change the rake rail height by 5/8" to 7/8".
35. How do you determine the newel centerpoints? The newel centerpoint lies at the intersection of the balustrade centerlines.

Handrail/Shoerail/Fillet Back to Top

Question Answer
1. Does your bending rail come with bending mould? No. Although LJ-6109 outside pieces do act as mould for this profile.
2. Why do I need to buy the full length of bending mould versus 3-4" pieces? Because the mould serves to keep the rail in form as well as protect the rail from clamp damage.
3. What lengths of solid cap rail do you offer and in what species? Solid cap handrail is available in 8', 10', 12', and 14' sections. 16' sections are priced and sold as FJ1 (one fingerjoint in the top ply). If a customer requires no fingerjoints in the 16' length, solid cap 16' can be quoted for price and lead time but the full length will only be 15'6".
4. What is the longest length of solid cap handrail offered? 15'6" is the longest and must be quoted for price and lead time. 16'-18'-20' is available with one fingerjoint (FJ1).
5. What lengths of clear rail do you offer and in what species? Clear handrail is available in 8', 10', 12', 14' and 16' sections. 16' sections will only be 15' 6". Clear handrail needs to be quoted for price and availability.
6. What is the longest length of clear handrail offered? 15'6" is the longest length available. Priced and quoted as 16'.
7. Why is L.J. Smith 16' bending rail only 15'6"? Solid pieces are used on the outside of all bending rails. The longest length available in solid material is 15'6".
8. What is the difference between SC-16' and FJ1 handrail? SC(or Solid Cap)-16 is 15'6" long and has no fingerjoints in the top ply. FJ1 is full 16' long but has one fingerjoint in the top ply. SC-16 Solid Cap handrail is available on a quote basis only.
9. Is beech handrail available in solid cap or in bending rail? No, long lengths of solid material in the beech specie is not available. Maple may be a suitable substitute.
10. Is the 6003 and 6203 contemporary handrail available in other species? In Oak and poplar this handrail is laminated for width and is then veneer-wrapped. The veneer is not available in any other specie at this time. Other species can be quoted but will be laminated for width and/or thickness.
11. Is wall rail solid? Wall rail is fingerjointed and laminated to prevent bowing and warping. It is not solid in the sense that it is cut from one piece of wood.
12. What is the difference between LJ-6005 and LJ-6004? LJ-6005 is published and is plowed 1 3/4" but does not have the P designation in the part number. The LJ-6004 is not published and is the same profile as the LJ-6005 but it is not plowed. LJ-6004P is available and is plowed 1 1/4".
13. Is the LJ-6000 available non-plowed? Yes. The item number is LJ-6002.
14. Can the inside or outside pieces of bending rail be purchased separately? Can two inside pieces of bending rail be added to the LJ-6010B to make it into LJ-6210B? No. The pieces cannot be purchased separately. All pieces are moulded at the same time. No. Additional pieces cannot be inserted to expand the width of bending rail because the pieces will not match and will not be the same dimension.
15. What handrail profiles are available in bending rail? All except LJ-6400 (profile too deep), contemporary rails and wall rails. All the other standard handrail profiles are available in bending rail as follows: LJ-6109B, LJ6210B, LJ-6519B, LJ-6701B, LJ-6900B, LJ-6A10B, LJ6B10B, LJ-6010B, & LJ-6601B.
16. Can bending rail be plowed? Yes, on the job site.
17. What should be done with the space left in the plowed portion of the handrail and shoerail, between the tops and bottoms of the balusters squares? "Fill-et!" Fillet should be cut to length and used to fill the plow between the balusters. We offer 3 sizes of fillet: LJ-6050 & LJ-6000F for 1 ¼" balusters; LJ-6007 for 1 ¾" & 1 5/8" balusters (1 5/8" is hemlock only).
18. How often should clamps be placed when forming bending rail? No more than 6" apart.
19. What does L.J. Smith bending rail offer that industry standard bending rails do not feature? All L.J. Smith bending rails are profiled on the top, which requires less labor on the job.
20. Which profiled handrail is suitable for use as a wall rail? LJ-6010
21. What are the maximum radii that L.J. Smith bending rails can be glued to? 6010B, 6210B, 6601B, 6701B, 6A10B can be successfully glued to a 30" radius on the rake and a 36" radius on the level. 6109B, 6B10B can be successfully glued to a rake radius of 36" and a level radius of 48". 6519B, 6900B can be successfully glued to a rake radius of 54" and a level radius of 60".
22. What type shoerail should be used with a 1 1/4" baluster? With a 1 3/4" baluster? LJ-6045 or LJ-6000S for 1 1/4" balusters. LJ-6006 or LJ-6001S for 1 3/4" balusters.
23. What is the proper way to measure and order handrail and/or shoerail for a stair system? Select handrail and shoerail at the rate of 13" per each tread and include enough for all level runs.
24. What is the rake handrail height? The minimum vertical distance from the tread nosing to the top of the handrail. (See the L.J. Smith Balustrade Installation Guide)
25. What is the balcony guardrail height? The minimum vertical distance from the finished floor on the balcony to the top of the level railing. (See the L.J. Smith Balustrade Installation Guide)
26. What is referred to as the handrail clearance? The minimum clearance required between the handrail and any other object such as a wall or landing tread nosing. (See the L.J. Smith Balustrade Installation Guide)
27. What numbers do the rails begin with? Handrails: LJ-6xxx
28. Are the LJ-6000, LJ-6001, LJ-6002, LJ-6003, and LJ-6203 profiles of rail laminated or veneered? The LJ-6000/6001/6002 are laminated for thickness, but has no veneer. The LJ-6003/6203 in oak and poplar are laminated and veneered.
29. Is fillet sold per lineal foot or by the piece? The fillet is available in both lineal foot and specified length 3' pieces. Lineal foot fillet ranges from 1'-3' sections.
30. How much Bending Mould is needed with a 16' piece of Bending Rail? 32' - Always order twice as much bending mould as bending rail. It is used on both sides of the bending rail.
31. What lengths does the handrail come? Can they be ordered in shorter or longer lengths? The handrail comes in 8'- 20' increments. Shorter lengths are not available because it can be cut down at the job site. Longer lengths are available on a per quote basis.
32. Does the fillet come with the handrail and shoerail? We offer 5 plowed rail profiles (LJ-6010/6210/6601/6701/6900) that can be ordered with fillet already inserted into the plow.
33. What type of handrail is required for the square top balusters? Plowed handrail
34. What does "UltraRail" mean? UltraRail refers to the rail's build which is a glued-up core over which a 1/8" layer is laminated. This gives the appearance of a clear rail with no visible joints. This rail is also sometimes referred to as "engineered" rail.
35. Why are no scrapers offered for the newer handrail profiles? At this time, the cost of developing the new scrapers outweighs the demand for them.

RailPro Back to Top

Question Answer
1. Does standard RailPro achieve a 36" balcony height? Yes, but the entire system must be elevated. We suggest blocks under the shoe rail at regular intervals for improved stability.
2. Can you use standard LJ-line newels with RailPro? Yes. RailPro newels come with a 13" face. Standard LJ-line newels are available with a 14 1/2" face which can be used with RailPro.
3. What is the primary use of RailPro? RailPro is ideal for replacing old railings, new stair construction, for sunken living rooms or used as room dividers. It is ideal for DIY.
4. Are the RailPro contemporary balusters with the eased edges available separately? Yes. Use part number RC-5063. A similar product would be the LJC-5060.
5. Can the rail and balusters for the RailPro System be purchased separately? Yes. RailPro handrail, shoerail, hardware and balusters can be purchased separately.
6. How do you order RailPro? First, select either Traditional or Contemporary. The traditional is specified as RT and the contemporary as RC. Second, determine the handrail height needed. RailPro assemblies are available in either 34" or 42". Third, determine the spacing between the balusters which must comply with building codes. The baluster spacing is either the 4" rule or 6" rule. Fourth, figure the rail length at a rate of 13" per tread and additional for level runs (balconies). Finally, specify the species which can be Oak, Hemlock, or Oak Rail / Hemlock Balusters.

Starting Steps/Treads/Risers Back to Top

Question Answer
1. When ordering a double-bullnose starting step, what do I need to measure? The "throat" measurement, which is the finished skirtboard outside to outside measurement.
2. What is the difference between stringers and skirtboard? Stringers are used under the treads and risers to support the stairways; the skirtboard is decorative trim.
3. Do L.J. Smith starting steps come with the moulding? Yes, it comes packaged with the necessary curved and straight shoe and cove moulding.
4. Are L.J. Smith treads edge-glued, solid, veneered, or laminated? L.J. Smith offers a mix of edge glued treads along with treads over which a 1/8" layer is laminated, aka "engineered." Solid treads are not offered. They would be too susceptible to bowing and cupping.
5. What is the largest custom tread size available? L.J. Smith will quote up to 192" long and 40" wide depending upon the specie.
6. Are treads and risers available in beech? No. The type of material needed for these products is not available in beech. Maple may be a suitable substitute.
7. What is a false tread? Tread cap installed over a portion of the rough framed tread on the open or closed side of a stairway to simulate the look of a solid tread after a carpet runner is installed.
8. What is landing tread? Moulding used to give the appearance of a tread with nosing at the top riser of a flight of stairs and along the open edge of second floor balconies and intermediate landings.
9. What is a winder tread? A tread with a greater run on one end than the other. Sometimes referred to as a pie tread. Available from L.J. Smith on a quoted basis - not a standard item.
10. What is the advantage of the LJ-8079 false tread kit over the industry standard kits? The LJ-8079 comes with everything; the tread, the riser, and the unattached moulding. This kit will handle an open right, open left or closed tread situation, making take-offs easier while reducing mistakes.
11. What is the proper way to measure and order treads for a stair open on one side? Select one tread for each step. Determine tread depth - 10 1/2" or 11 1/2". Measure and add 1 1/4" to the stringer to stringer measurement. Determine if RH, LH or 1RV (reversible) mitre is required. Order next longest standard length tread available.
12. What is the proper way to measure and order treads for a stair open on both sides? Select one tread for each step. Determine tread depth - 10 1/2" or 11 1/2". Measure and order the throat size for finished outside skirtboard to outside skirtboard measurement.
13. What is the proper way to measure and order risers for a stairway? Select one riser for each step and one more riser than tread for the landing, per flight. Determine riser height - 7 1/2" or 8". Measure and order next longest standard length riser available.
14. What is the proper way to measure and order landing tread? Select sufficient lineal footage for the entire balcony and width of stairs at each landing. LJ-8090-5 is suitable for all newels up to and including those that are a 4" square.
15. What is cove moulding? What is the proper way to measure and order cove moulding? Cove moulding is a decorative trim used to cover the joint between the tread and the riser and the landing tread and the riser and/or fascia. Select sufficient lineal footage to go under all tread nosing including mitre returns and under all landing tread. Cove moulding is optional. Used for cosmetic purposes only.
16. Which starting steps are used with volutes or turnouts? With Post-to-post newels? With box newels? With 90 degree starting fittings? LJ-8010/8015, LJ-8210/8215 or LJ-8310/8315. The handrail profile will determine what size bullnose is required. LJ-8040 or LJ-8060 should be used when post-to-post newels are used and placed at the second riser. LJ-8040, LJ-8060, LJ-8030, or LJ-8050 can be used with box newels. The LJ-8440/8460, LJ-8640/8660 should be used with a 90 degree starting fitting. The handrail profile will determine what size bullnose is required. (See the L.J. Smith catalog) td>
17. What is unique about the L.J. Smith miter return treads? L.J. Smith miter-returns are curve-cut for a better appearance rather than mitered or straight cut.
18. What numbers do the starting steps, treads, and risers begin with? Starting Steps: LJ-8xxx Treads: 8070xxxx Risers: LJ8075xxxx
19. Why do the part #'s for all treads and risers for Hard Maple say Maple? All the treads and risers are manufactured from Hard Maple material, but to be consistent with other maple products the part numbers are in our computer system as Maple.
20. Are the risers on starting steps solid oak? No, risers on starting steps are notched plywood with a solid oak veneer.
21. Are treads one solid piece of material? No. Solid treads are not offered. They would be too susceptible to bowing or cupping.
22. Does the throat measurement on one end miter return treads have to be specified when ordering? No. The throat measurement on one-end miter return treads is not necessary. However, the overall length of the tread is specified, which includes the 1-1/4" return width. When ordering a 48" mitered one end tread the actual throat measurement is 48" overall, less 1-1/4" return nosing, leaving a 46-3/4" throat.
23. Can a quote be done for a custom throat measurement on the double bull-nosed bowed starting steps? Yes, any throat measurement other than a 48" must be quoted.
24. Are the risers included with the LJ line false tread kits? Yes. Unlike the S line false tread kits in which the riser has to be ordered separately, the riser is included in the LJ line of false treads.
25. Can we get specific lengths on landing tread, false tread mould, cove mould, etc.? Yes. Specified length red oak landing tread is available in 8' -16' lengths. Other species and all other mouldings can be quoted for specified lengths.
26. Do you have to specify right hand or left hand on the starting steps? No. They are reversible on all standard species. Some custom species will require specification which will be noted on the quote.
27. What is the difference between "LJ" and "S" false treads? The LJ-line false treads are reversible and can be assembled or cut on the job site and come with a false riser. When ordering the S-line false treads, you must designate right or left hand, and they are pre-assembled. S-line false treads do not come with a false riser. The riser must be ordered separately.
28. What type of Landing Tread is available? Which one is most recommended? There are two types of Landing Tread, LJ-8090 and LJ-8090-5. The LJ-8090 is 3 ½" deep and can only be used with newels less than 3 ½" square. The LJ-8090-5 is 5 ¼" deep and is suitable for all newels up to and including those that are a 4" square. The most commonly used design is the LJ-8090-5.
29. What are the depths of the treads? The tread depths either 10 ½" or 11 ½".
30. Is the LJ-8079 False Tread Kit reversible? Yes, it can be used on open treads LH, open treads RH, or closed treads.
33. How do you order mitered 2 end treads if the customer wants a 42" overall? Subtract 2-3/8" (1 3/16" for each return) to get the throat measurement = 39 5/8" [Throat measurement = finished outside-to-outside (stair width + drywall + skirtboard)]