how to build a newel post

Posts in this Series

1.  How to Build NEWEL POST-100 for About $60.46 Part 1

2.  How to Build NEWEL POST-100 Part 2

3.  Before & After: Newel Post on a Half Wall


Install the Core on the Half Wall

You can see in the photo below how I slid the u-shaped core onto the end of the half wall, glued and nailed it in place.  That was the starting point I had in mind.

Once the core was in place, I installed the necking flat-stock on top — that’s the mdf board that gets integrated into the half wall cap.

victorian style newel post

Panel Reveals

The inset panels made from 1/4″ mdf board make up the outer face of the newel post.  If you’re at a loss for how wide to make them, it might help to know that they are about the same width.

Other than that it’s a matter of taste.

But the width of the panel inset was based on the width of the ornate woodworking applique I ordered that fit that width.  More on that farther down the page.

Victorian newel post

This collar — the edge of the 3/4″ mdf flat-stock — will eventually have a small decorative molding applied to it.

newel post on pony wall

The little cove molding can be wrapped around the newel post base.  Note how the reveal space on the panels was accounted for so that the final result is a uniform reveal on the panels above the cove.

how to make a newel post

Newel Post Capital

This is the only photo of the capital I have.  But clearly you can see how I made it in the same way I made the main newel post core.

You can fasten it securely to the flat-stock below by first gluing and nailing an mdf square nailer that the capital can fit right down on top of.  Glue and nail in place.

easy to install moldings

The capital is glued and nailed to an mdf block attached to the top of the collar/cap mdf board.

Wrapping the Moldings

Remember in Part 1 of this series I said that building a square core is super-important?  That’s because if your core is out of square it will make wrapping all of the moldings around it a nightmare.

And now we’re at the part where all the moldings get wrapped around both cores.

how to install moldings

Above  That bed molding is just a test piece so I could come up with how big the cap should be that sits on top of it.

Below  The cap that sits on the bed molding is 3/4″ thick mdf.

newl post at top of stairs

The Newel Post Cap

It should be pretty obvious how I assembled the cap.  I don’t remember how thick the spacer was below the beveled mdf that makes up the very top center of the cap, but my goal was to have it extend just a tad above the cove molding.

newel post diy Victorian mdf

how to decorate with moldings

See how easy all of this is?  In hindsight I’d say the hardest part is coming up with the proper dimensions on the core and panels, so that as you later your moldings everything looks even and balanced.

newel post at top of stairs

$60.00 or Less

The only reason it would cost you $60.00 to build this newel post is if you don’t have any scrap materials lying around you could use.

diy Victorian newel post

Finishing Touches

While the woodworking rosette appliques were being made-to-order, and the finial was on its way, I went ahead and prepped the moldings for paint.

how to paint a Victorian newel post

How to Prepare Moldings for Paint

[See our rather detailed molding prep/paint tutorial here: How to Paint Moldings.]

  1. Spackle/ sand nail holes and imperfections
  2. Vacuum the moldings
  3. Wipe down with damp rag
  4. Prime with sandable primer
  5. Sand everything
  6. Vacuum again
  7. Wipe down with rag
  8. Caulk any remaining gaps

[See some of the consumable materials we use for these steps here: Consumables.]

newel post

Don’t forget to use a paint leveler or extender any time you paint moldings.  And don’t try to get away with just one coat of paint, always two coats of paint on moldings.  Here’s why.

Newel post

Newel Post Finial

This is an exact replica of a historic Victorian finial.  It’s made of very high-quality wood, and if I remember it cost about $24.00.

newel post finial

Installing the finial in the cap was as complicated as drilling a hole and gluing the finial in place.

newel post finial hole

Victoiran finial on newel post

Finials and Woodworking Appliques

See my growing list of architectural ornaments here >>

Rosette rectangular decorators supply

If you have any questions about how I made this newel post, you can use the comment section below.


I wish you the best of luck building your own newel post.  We’d love to share what you’ve made with all the other molding geeks here on The Joy of Moldings, so send us some before and after pictures or whatever you want and well show off your skills!

Posts in this Series

1.  How to Build NEWEL POST-100 for About $60.46 Part 1

2.  How to Build NEWEL POST-100 Part 2

3.  Before & After: Newel Post on a Half Wall


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