Creating Custom Balusters and Railing Panels


Reference Number: KB-02893
Last Modified: February 7, 2019

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors



QUESTION

I have a custom railing I need to create for a client. How can I create custom balusters and panels?

three views of the same stair with different balusters and newels


ANSWER

Custom railing panels, newels, and balusters can all be created using shapes or solids, and then converting them into millwork symbols, allowing them to be used in the Railing Specification dialog. This article discusses how to create different space intervals for balusters and creating a custom panel. Newels, balusters and panels can be created with any 3D item that has been added to the library as Millwork. For this example, Polyline Solids are used. 


To create a custom baluster or newel

  1. In a New Plan file, select Build> Primitive> Polyline Solid , and click and drag to draw two Polyline Solids 2" in size, spaced vertically, 3" apart.

    Two polyline solids that are 2" x 2" and are 3" apart

    When creating a custom newel or baluster, it's imperative that it's drawn vertically in the drawing space. Otherwise you will need to rotate the symbol before you apply the symbol to a railing.

  2. Group select the two solids, click the Open Object tool to open the Polyline Solid Specification dialog, specify the Thickness as 36", which will act as the total height of the baluster, then click OK.

    Specify a Thickness for the polyline solids in the Polyline Solid Specification dialog

    Materials can be specified on the Materials panel at this time if desired. If materials are not changed now, it's possible to change them later when the balusters are applied to the railing.

  3. Select 3D> Create Perspective View> Full Camera , then click and drag a camera pointing at the two balusters.


  4. Once the view has generated, select Tools> Symbol> Convert to Symbol from the menu.

    • In Chief Architect X11 and newer program versions, you can also select objects and use the Convert Selected to Symbol edit button to create custom symbols.


  5. In the Convert to Symbol dialog, select Millwork from the Symbol Category drop-down menu, put a check in the Add To Library box , then click OK.

    Select the Millwork category when converting balusters into symbols


  6. In the User Catalog of the Library Browser, a new Untitled item will be created. Right-click on this item, choose Rename, and type in a descriptive name of your choice.

    In this example, the name Double Baluster is used.


To create a custom panel

Panels can be created using a single Polyline Solid with a hole cut into it, or by using several pieces put together.

  1. In a New Plan file, select 3D> Create Orthographic View> Cross Section/Elevation , and click and drag from the bottom of the screen up.

    Creating a cross section/elevation from the bottom of the screen pointing up

    When creating a custom railing panel it's imperative that it's drawn horizontally in the drawing space. Otherwise you will need to rotate the symbol before you apply the symbol to a railing.

  2. In the elevation view select Build> Primitive> Polyline Solid from the menu, then click and drag to create a Polyline Solid the desired size for the panel.

    Railing panel created using a Polyline Solid

    Materials can be specified on the Materials panel of the Polyline Solid Specification dialog now, or you can wait and change the material when you apply the symbol to your railing.

  3. Next, select CAD> Circles> Circle and click and drag several circles within the Polyline Solid, of which will be cut out to create several holes. Continue drawing circles or other shapes that will be cut out of the polyline solid.

    Several circles created in the Polyline Solid


    • You may want to use a variety of edit tools such as Multiple Copy , Transform/Replicate , and Align/Distribute Along Line to create copies of the circle or preferred shape within this panel.


  4. Group select the CAD circles, click the Convert Polyline edit button, and in the Convert Polyline dialog that opens, select Polyline Solid from the list, then click OK.

    Select the Polyline Solid option in the Convert Polyline dialog


  5. In the Polyline Solid Specification that opens next, put a check in Hole in Polyline Solid box and click OK.

    Check the Hole in Poyline Solid box in the Polyline Solid Specification dialog


  6. The Polyline Solid will now have holes cut into it.

    Holes in a Polyline Solid railing panel


  7. Select Tools> Symbol> Convert to Symbol from the menu.

    • In Chief Architect X11 and newer program versions, you can also select objects and use the Convert Selected to Symbol edit button to create custom symbols.


  8. In the Convert to Symbol dialog, select Millwork from the Symbol Category drop-down menu, put a check in the Add To Library box , then click OK

    Select the millwork category when converting panels to symbols


  9. In the User Catalog of the Library Browser, a new Untitled item will be created. Right-click on this item, choose Rename, and type in a descriptive name of your choice.


To apply the custom baluster or panel to a railing

  1. Select an existing railing or select Build> Railing and Deck> Straight Deck Railing or Straight Railing , then click and drag to create a railing.


  2. With the railing selected, click Open Object to display the Deck Railing Specification dialog.


  3. On the Rail Style panel, select either Balusters or Panels under the Specify Railing section.

    Balusters is chosen on the Rail Style panel of the Railing Specification dialog

    In this example, Balusters is selected.


  4. On the Newels/Balusters panel, there are different sections for Newels/Posts, Balusters, and Panels. Depending on the option chosen in step 3, either the Balusters or Panels section will be grayed out.

    Selecting the Library button next to the Baluster Type on the Newels/Balusters panel of the Railing Specification dialog

    • To specify a custom Newel/Post, click the Library button next to the Type option in the Newels/Posts section.

    • To specify a custom Baluster, click the Library button next to the Type option in the Balusters section.

    • To specify a custom Panel, click the Library button next to the Type option in the Panels section.


  5. In the Select Library Object dialog which opens next, browse to the User catalog and select the custom baluster, newel or panel created earlier, then OK.


  6. Back in the Railing Specification dialog, it may be necessary to adjust spacing - for example, if you chose the Double Baluster created in the first section of this article, you might want to set the width to 5" and the spacing to 12".


  7. Once all desired changes are made, click OK to close out of the dialog and take a Camera view to see the results.

    Camera view of the railing with custom balusters