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Popular in Home Improvement

Deck Inspirations

Try this do-it-yourself style boost: a custom rail design.

Give your outdated deck a style boost with a great-looking custom rail design. Our design takes a typical picket fence motif, then updates it and adds custom details you typically won't find on a builder's deck.

The materials list below is for one four-foot-long railing and one post. The letters are keyed to the instructions and plans that follow. An * indicates you need to determine length on the job site.


  • A) 1 post: 5-1/2 x 5-1/2 x 38-1/2 inches
  • B) 1 cap: 1-1/2 x 7-1/2 x 7-1/2 inches
  • C) 1 cap: 3/4 x 5-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches
  • D) 4 cubes: 3/4 x 3/4 x 3/4 inches
  • E) 2 rectangles: 3/4 x 3/4 x 2 inches
  • F) 1 triangle: 3/4 x 2-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches
  • G) 2 post ornaments: 3/4 x 3-1/2 x 6 inches
  • H) 4 cove molding pieces: 3/4 x 3/4 inches
  • I) 1 top rail: 1-1/2 x 3-1/2* inches
  • J) 1 bottom rail: 1-1/2 x 3-1/2* inches
  • K) 1 top-rail support: 3/4 x 2* inches
  • L) 8 pickets: 3/4 x 3-1/2 x 34 inches
  • No. 3, No. 6, and No. 8 galvanized finishing nails
  • 1-1/2-inch galvanized deck screws
  • 3 x 3/4-inch rust-resistant corner irons


  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Router with carbide router chamfer bit
  • Power driver/drill
  • Phillips-head bit
  • 1-inch boring bit
  • Pocket square
  • Combination square
  • Framing square
  • Hammer
  • Nail set

1. To make post (A), cut a 6 x 6 to 38-1/2 inches above deck floor. Make 1/2-inch chamfer on each corner. Use a 2 x 8 for post cap (B) and a 1 x 6 for post cap (C). Make cubes (D), rectangles (E), and the triangle (F). To make two post ornaments, cut a 1 x 4 (G) to shape and drill hole. Add cove molding (H).

2. To build railing, cut two 2x4s to equal lengths to form top rail (I) and bottom rail (J). Hold rails (I, J) side by side; use a pencil and combination square to mark locations for pickets (L). Rip a 1 x 4 to 2 inches to form rail support (K). Attach to top rail (I) using 1-1/2-inch galvanized deck screws. On the bottom of top and bottom rails, attach corner irons to fit rails flush to post (A).

3. Cut pickets from 1 x 4s. Cut 45-degree angles to create points. Notch sides, drill hole at top.

4. To assemble, attach pickets (L) to rails (I, J) using four 1-1/2-inch galvanized deck screws and power driver/drill. Attach rail section to post (A), with corner irons on top rail (I) and bottom rail (J). Center cap (B) on top of post (A) and nail with No. 8 galvanized finishing nails. Center cap section (C) on cap section (B) and nail in place using No. 6 galvanized finishing nails. Nail triangle (F) onto cap (C) with No. 6 galvanized finishing nails. Attach cubes (D) and rectangles (E) as shown using carpenter's glue or epoxy.

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