Craft & Design Furniture & Lighting
Cool Idea:  Bannister ropes
rsz_bannister_rope.jpg

Image courtesy W.R. Outhwaite & Son, Ropemakers.

Depending on where you live, this may be old hat for you, but I’ve lived 30 years on this earth and never seen a rope bannister before. And I just finished remodeling my staircase too. Besides being less expensive, easier to ship, easier to install, and way more interesting than a rigid handrail, a rope bannister is an awesome excuse to do some classic knotwork and play with giant-gauge rope. I’m pretty sure that’s a Matthew Walker knot (Wikipedia) there in the end of that one.

18 thoughts on “Cool Idea: Bannister ropes

  1. That’s a Manrope Knot, not a Matthew Walker. I don’t think there’s any way to neatly tuck the ends of a MW into itself.

  2. Not to be a Debbie Downer, as this is a cool project, but I wonder if it would violate building code in most place in the U.S.

  3. Yeah, that actually occurred to me. Personally, that wouldn’t stop me from installing one if I wanted to (in my home, anyway), but I would be surprised, as you say, if it’s not technically illegal to do so in many places.

    1. Looks like a monkey fist to me, of the two-loop variant. I always tuck the end of it back into the know when I tie them, unlike the direction in Rick’s link, so I’d say that’s what the pictured knot is

  4. Rope like this is the bannister of choice in most of the spiral staircases in castles. Not sure if they were built this way originally or if they are recent additions in this health and safely mad age.

  5. IBC requires that a railing support a 200# (91kg)
    concentrated load in any direction. It doesn’t
    look to me as if those brackets are adequate, but
    maybe they’re stronger than they look.

    Was it me, I’d want the rope taut enough to
    move less than 2 inches when I tried to use
    it instead of a crutch. Maybe using hollow-braid
    rope and running a pipe up the middle would work.

  6. If you read Ashley, you’ll discover the turk’s head is simply a generic for a class of knots which broadly-speaking includes those named.
    One problem with such work is stretch – the work should really be done with pre-stretched ropes worked wet, so nothing unworks over time.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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