May 022008

Now that the stucco is done, I’ve taken time off of work to install the cable railing system. It’s more than half done now, and the results are great! And my arms ache from the effort.

I bought cable kits from Feeney Architectural Products to do the whole thing. The first thing I discovered is that the self-swaging cable terminators require 9/16” holes in the rail posts on one end of each cable run. There are 5 cable runs, each with 12 cables…so I had to drill 60 9/16” holes through 2 layers of 1/4” steel. This meant that I had to purchase a really good drill (i.e. a guy toy, a Milwaukee 1/2”), a 9/16” cobalt steel drill bit (thank you, Grainger), and ultimately, a drill bit sharpener. I now have incredible respect for people who work with steel. It took a lot of strength and energy to drill those holes!


Let me start with the cable kits. Once again, we’re at the place where “some assembly is required”. Here is a set of cables, short 5-footers and long 15-footers, with a tube of locktite, the nuts that go on the threaded end, the swages that go on the bare end, and the stainless steel caps that finish them off.

The cable is threaded through the posts, a nut and washer goes on the threaded end (not visible), and a the swage slides onto the bare end with a nylon washer. The swage locks onto the cable, so it can only be pushed in one direction. These are the 9/16” holes I drilled, with 4 swages installed, and a 5th swage going onto the cable.


The almost-finished product. Nuts on the threaded ends on the right have been tightened to make the cables taught. The next step is to take a cutting wheel to the threaded shaft, trimming the excess, add a drop of locktite, then snap a finish cap onto the end. The result is the neat, clean installation you see on the left.

By the way, I left some extra threaded shaft on the end of each cable, so I can pop the caps off and tighten the cable if it stretches over time.

Meanwhile, work is starting on the inside stairway. Steve and Tom Tillson have started making templates for the 4×12 stringers that will go up the center of the stair well, which will support the floating treads. I had a load of 4×12 ‘selected grade 1 structural kiln-dried free-of-heart-center douglas fir’ (aka ‘select 1 struct KD FOHC DF’) delivered to their shop today. They are planing the 16’ beams down to size, and I should have some pictures and progress to report within a few days.

George, Nancy and I continue to prime all the walls, paint ceilings and door frames, and prepare the house for final smooth drywall touch-up, kitchen cabinets, and bath room tiling. Waterproofing of the shower and decks will be finished this coming week. The gutter downspouts will be done Tuesday, and the scaffolding will be picked up Wednesday. Cedar siding arrives on Thursday. We’re scheduling the concrete pours for the curb and driveway, and placement of rocks on the hillside to build the slope back up in front of the wing walls. I’m keeping my foot on the throttle.

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