Here is a post one of the Raspberry Pi User Group members put together on fixing their stairs. It goes to show what a little industriousness can do!
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I decided it was time to redo my 100-year-old (literally) stairs. Replacing them was financially out of the picture. They had many coats of paint on them and removing the carpeting left lots of nail/staple holes, so stripping and refinishing was out. That left painting as the only viable option.
The balusters were finished with a very dark stain, including lots of runs and blobs. There were a lot of squeaks to be silenced, trim to be replaced, and a landing that had to be rebuilt. With the amount of work required, I decided it would be much easier to remove the balusters rather than work around them.
I didn't think to take a "before" picture, so this is a "during" picture, with the balusters and trim removed, handrail cleaned up, squeaks fixed, and some holes patched.
Further on, some painting done, more holes and dings patched.
Painting the balusters was still going to be a hassle, but I thought, "what if I could make something to turn them slowly while I just held the brush?" I decided to aim for 20 RPM, or one revolution in 3 seconds. The whole project had to consist of parts on hand and not be more work than it was worth for a one-off.
I didn't have any motors that I could easily make turn slowly enough. I did have a 24V cordless drill that still "drilled" fine, but its batteries wouldn't take a charge. Of course it would run *way* too fast at 24V. I wondered how it would run at a lower voltage and, if my experiment let the smoke out, it wouldn't really matter.
I only had one adjustable power supply with enough juice to drive the drill but it wouldn't adjust lower than 8 VDC. That was still too fast. Again, not wanting overkill for a one-off job, I played with available power resistors in the DC line until I found a combination that would drop enough voltage without burning up. That got me down to 30 RPM, or one revolution in 2 seconds. Close enough!
This is the end product, power supply not shown:
Of course balusters are all different lengths so the "head" of the unit slides on a piece of T-track to accommodate each baluster. Most of the baluster is painted in the jig, removed, situated to dry, and the top section painted.
Is it a slow lathe or a fast rotisserie? Who knows?