This evening I finished stripping the last of the balusters and fillet stops from the railing of the stairs going up to the second floor.
And I'm living dangerously withal. I went ahead and knocked them all loose to work on them down the basement.
Gradually, carefully I've done this . . . The first ten balusters from the top I had to remove: they backed up to a wall and it'd be hell on wheels to redo the bannister or repaint the wall with them there.
That left the eight at the bottom. Remove two, put some weight on the railing, see if it's holding up. Yes. Remove a couple more, push on the railing again. Not deflecting? All right.
So now the only thing holding up my hand rail is the newel posts at the top and bottom of the stairs.
See the magic levitating stair rail! Thrill to the gravity-defying spectacle of solid oak resting on just about nothing!!
Do not try this at home; at least, not at homes with young children.
Me, every time I look at that gap the floor of my stomach gives way like a trap door. Can't imagine why; the stairs to the basement have no railing at all. But on this staircase, above and below and from any and every angle, the vacancy between shoe and rail give me a persistent case of vertigo.
Which is not to be construed as saying that the demounted posts will be reinstalled any time soon.