Designer’s Alphabet…B is for Baluster

is for Baluster. A small column or post that supports a handrail. They come in a wide variety of forms and can be cylindrical or square in cross section. This form above, illustrated from James Gibbs “Rules for Drawing” is for a baluster fashioned from stone. Furniture builders frequently borrowed these simple forms and adapted them to their own use like this post for a tilt top table (You can follow the build on this table at Musings From Big Pink). Note that in architectural work, balusters fashioned from wood and used in stairways are typically much lighter and slender. These more slender adaptations of baluster forms cross pollinated with furniture forms also, especially turned legs. Take note of architectural balusters as they may be a future inspiration for a furniture design.  If you have an example of an interesting baluster adapted for use in a furniture project or an architectural setting, send me a picture at

I’ll add examples to this post so we can flesh out some design adaptations for B is for Baluster.

Note, you may want to revisit this in a few days to see some of the examples added to this post. Had some interesting additions to our A for Attic base post.
George R. Walker

Chris Bame contributed this picture of a baluster inspired support for a trestle table. Thanks Chris!

William Duffield who shared the link to Monticello in the comment below also shared this picture of his tilt top table. Note that the baluster form repeats in the small turnings of the birdcage. Thanks William!

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Woodworker and writer
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1 Response to Designer’s Alphabet…B is for Baluster

  1. William Duffield says:

    A row of balusters, as in the Gibbs drawing, is called a balustrade. The balustrades at Jefferson’s Monticello and Poplar Forest are good examples of Gibbs’ design.

    The balusters at Monticello are turned from black locust.

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