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Stair Handrail. Custom or Settings?

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@Pat Stanford


Thanks. I guess I'm missing something in fence mode.


I have had the rail off in the Stair Object. I have been using my own rail object than I have shown. When I draw a rail, it's flat at the Z of the layer I'm in. Not seeing how I pick two different Z points on stair treads to make it follow the angle of tread nosing. Then I could at least add 36" to each Z value to get it at the right height. 

I see I am able to do 3d line mode then calculate the end of each end with math. Would be nice if it at least snapped to stair treads. Any ideas on how to do that?


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I have never used the rail or fence tool enough to give any advice. I have played with it at a users group meeting and we were able to draw a 3D polygon and have the rail follow that.


Since I posted here hopefully we will get enough interest to get you the help you need.


As a starting point, try selecting the second mode of the Fence/Rail tool, 3D Line Mode. That will let you snap and offset from the stair treads.

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5 hours ago, Scott Schwartz, AIA said:

I am using the 3D line mode and it still snaps flat at the Z of the layer I'm on


I have experienced this before. See:



It's been identified as a bug. You could try restarting VW + using the default configuration initially then changing it to the one you want afterwards as per:


On 4/19/2021 at 6:03 PM, Matt Panzer said:

The problem I'm seeing is that the tool works correctly when I first use it during a Vectorworks session until I select a configuration from the resource popup in the tool mode bar.  Once I do that, the object is always on the design layer plane.  Restarting Vectorworks seems to fix the issue until I select another configuration from the resource popup.


I have to say the Railing/Fence Tool is one of my least favourite tools. It is even worse when you try + use it in a georeferenced file as does it not only draw at Z=0 rather than at the correct 3D elevation it places itself at the User Origin + not at the correct coordinates on the site model! What I am having to do is once I've got one fence object on the site model, for the remaining sections of fence I am copying + pasting the original fence, rotating it + adjusting the start/end elevations to get it where it needs to be. A bit of a palaver to say the least. It would be so so much nicer to be able to draw the overall run of fencing as a single object - like a Wall - going click-click-click across the terrain + have each click snap to the surface of the site model as you go.


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You could Command-K the 3D geometry of the Railing/Fence object then create a hybrid symbol for it, and include in the 2D components ground floor + first floor representations controlled by class...? Not ideal I know but sometimes it's better to go down the symbol route if it means you can achieve exactly the 2D look you want it's probably as quick as masking it in the VP

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You can also ungroup a copy of the stair, which will turn the handrail into a Mesh object which you can then modify with 3D modeling tools.  


My workflow is to duplicate the stair, group it (to isolate from the rest of the drawing), enter the group, ungroup the stair, delete everything I don't need, modify the handrail, exit the group.  The end result is a grouped handrail object.  

Edited by E|FA
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Guest Wes Gardner

The old stair, which must be pulled from the archive in the Workspace editor used to be capable of being exploded resulting in easily editable extruded objects (trying to edit mesh objects in VW is challenging)...you could also get the hand rail to present as just 3D linework which could be used as an extrude along path path.  This made it relatively simple to create realistic profile for rails.


Haven't tried this in a while but it was my go-to workflow.




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