Emergency Spindle Question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The main stair spindles.


In a previous post I detailed how I recreated the original expansive size of the main stair in the Cross House. In order to finish the work I need to order 16 new oak spindles (at $55 each).

There is one problem.

See the spindles above?

See the sphere in the middle of each?

See how the spheres have a carved, ah, swirl?

That swirl is the problem. I can find a lot of people to turn new oak spindles. But nobody can do the carved swirl.

I can have the swirls hand-carved. At vast scary expense. Which I am not going to do.

So, I had two thoughts:

1) The 16 new spindles will not have carved swirls, and these 16 spindles will simply reflect the passage of time/alterations to the Cross House over its long history. When I give tours of the house, it will be fun to point out the 16 “naked” spheres and see people go: “Oh!”

2) I could hand-paint swirls on each sphere. I suspect nobody will ever notice, and I could still have some fun bringing this oddity to people’s attention.

I lean toward #1.

What do you think?

Oh! If you know of anybody who CAN do the swirls (at moderate cost) please let me know. You will be the official Hero Of The Great Stair, and I will have a brass plaque installed stating as such.


  1. Frank McCormick on March 10, 2015 at 10:36 am

    I guess they were hand-carved originally..I can’t see any other way of doing it. It’s also clear there are not identical so hand-carving is the likely way they were done.

  2. amyheavilin on March 10, 2015 at 10:41 am

    One of my former student’s fathers could totally make those for you. I don’t know how much it would cost, but I’m happy to put you in touch with him. He would just need an original, and would be able to make the knives and templates to do the rest in his shop. Just let me know!

    • Ross on March 10, 2015 at 10:50 am

      Yes, please, oh Great Goddess!

      • amyheavilin on March 10, 2015 at 11:14 am

        Joseph Lintzenich – 317-714-****. His shop is killer. Tell him I said Hi!

  3. Alecia T. on March 10, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I hope Amy’s contact can help, but if not maybe you could go with #1 and every year or so have one removed and hand carved, almost like an anniversary present to the house. Not that you don’t have anything else to do or spend money on, but at least this way it would spread out the expense and you may get to enjoy them all being complete at one point or another. They really are beautiful and a great example of the time and craftsmanship people used to put into things.

  4. Denali Dragonfly "Grace" on March 10, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Contact our local Emporia stone carver, Alan Tollakson. I think he will do wood carving also. If not I’m sure he can recommend someone.



    If you don’t get a reply let me know, I have his personal phone number and I’d be happy to contact him for you and ask him to get in touch with you.

  5. ken on March 10, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Looks like you have some options to explore now. If they don’t work out I like the idea of having one or two carved a year since the staircase is such a focal spot of your home.

  6. meganmoss82 on March 13, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Sounds like you’re in good shape with wood carvers – if that fails, you could turn the upper and lower sections (leaving a peg in the middle end of each one) and cast the carved piece in epoxy. Then glue and assemble, should be very cost effective.

    • Ross on March 13, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      Had not thought about this option! I did have four new capitals made with epoxy for the front porch columns, so we now have some experience! Humm, will think about this idea. Thanks!

  7. David Wallis on November 27, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Except for the swirl, they’re an elongated version of the porch spindles, or more likely the porch spindles are a squashed and simplified version of the stair spindles. It’s always fun to discover where an architect repeated a motif.

  8. g on April 17, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Ross, are they all of a piece? I had fancy orbs, not spiral, more like pineapples and found they were made in three sections then pinned and glued. Are any of the original spiral orbs able to be attached to replacement spindle sections? Just a thought. Regards-GC

  9. montana channing on January 31, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    considering how much of these period houses were often catalog pieces, i’m questioning the hand carved theory. Americans were a lot more clever in,those dead days and I bet they were (as suggested ) either a glued up piece or made on a machine in some way.

  10. Dorothee on March 12, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    Can you match the color? Why not remove every 3rd spindle (or whatever the number should be) and put the ‘odd’ new one there? Then you have created a pattern that will look like it’s supposed to be like that. Reinstall the removed spindles into the pattern accordingly.

    HoooHoooHoooHoooHoooHoooHoooH <— like that

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