Graphical Construction Glossary >> stairs. >> general >> Spiral Newel

Spiral Newel
The central load bearing post in a spiral stair. Also simply called a Newel.

a newel to a spiral stair

Simply called a newel, the central member that takes most of the load in a spiral stair is almost invariably these days based on steel, which has strength, convenience and compactness in it's favour.

So to be different on this page here are some alternatives. Above is a Victorian era cast iron mass produced spiral stair.

This is an unusual spiral in that a lot of work has gone into creating a hollow timber newel of about 18" 600mm diameter. Seen in a church Holland.

a timber core to a spiral stair

a stone spiral stairway

In this instance the treads are taking a lot of the weight of this stone spiral stair in the Medieval Clock Tower in Bruges, Belgium. Without a doubt though the central cylinder will contain wrought iron bars to add strength to the structure. Note the fact that in spite of the enormous amount of extra work involved, the masons provided each step with a toe space.

Hanging a rope down the inside was a common way of providing some grip, rather than a complicated handrail, but for the most part these early spiral stairs had no handrails.

a solid timber spiral newel

Another newel out of timber. This time solid about 12" or 300mm diameter, with spiral grooves cut into it. It may be that these grooves were intended as some sort of grip instead of a handrail, but I didn't use them. I took the outside line as most people do when walking on these stairs.

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Adam Smith 1723-1790

"When we build, let us think that we build for ever."John Ruskin 1819-1900

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