Handyman on Call

Can a rusted-out railing post be fixed?

Q. One of the metal posts on my front step railing has rusted out so badly that it is sort of dangling from the rail. Can that be fixed, or replaced?

PHYLIS, from Needham

A. It can be fixed, but it’s a jury-rig at best. This is how: Railing posts are sunk into the concrete or masonry steps, so the bottom of the post must be chipped or removed right out of its hole. Then the post is cut near its bottom and a new post mortared into the hole to connect with the old rail. Then thin stainless steel plates can be screwed into the post, serving as a splint to keep the post vertical.


Better is to have a wrought-iron worker replace the post. One worker who did my front railings and an interior one, too, is John Gregory LaRocco in Weymouth.

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Q. I have sheer curtains in front of a recessed radiator. Do those curtains block any of the heat coming from the radiators?


A. Be concerned no longer. The heat will go right through the curtains, or push them aside or away for the heat to come into the room. Enjoy the billowing curtains, or open them when the heat is on.

Q. One of my big oak pie plate winding stair treads is cracked right down the middle. I plan to glue it back together. Will that work to keep it from cracking again? It’s about 10 inches deep at its narrow end, and 18 inches or so deep at its wide end. Replacing it is too expensive.



A. In a word, no. That piece is 1 inch thick or even 1¼ inches thick as all treads are or are supposed to be, and any piece of solid wood that thick and large will crack when it dries out. Re-glue it with the strongest glue you can get and it will crack again, sooner or later. The only thing you can do is to not tempt Mother Nature, and plane the edges of the crack smooth and even, so that it is a natural looking gap, or buy two separate pieces to match the shape of the original tread.

Q. I have luckily inherited a beautiful German ceramic spice set from my grandmother. Unfortunately, several of the pieces have broken. The pieces are large enough that I could easily re-glue them. However, I’m not sure what glue to use. The set will never be used for anything but display so “dishwasher safe” isn’t necessary, yet I want the pieces secure. This is one job I really don’t want to botch up. Can you help?

BONNIE WILKES, by e-mail

A. A popular one is what we called Duco Cement, which as boys in the 1940s used to build flying models like Spitfires, Hurricanes, Messerschmitts, Stukas and P-40s.

Another is Super Glue, which comes in very small tubes, and which sets up in 15 seconds and will hold virtually any hard material to itself. But keep Super Glue off your skin; it can weld your fingers together, and trying to separate them can pull the skin right off. These glues are sold in hardware stores.

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton ( also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to