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Thread: Need help with chair repair

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Need help with chair repair

    I've been asked to repair a few chairs for a customer. Essentially, the legs are loose. It appears that there is some joinery between the leg and seat rails other than the angle brace. There are signs of past attempts at repair as well. Also, the angle braces are glued in making a full disassembly difficult if not impossible. Any suggestions? I have an idea or two, but want to see what the experience of the forum is before I make any moves.

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  2. #2
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    I'd try to completely disassemble if possible.

    You have two points of contact with the corner braces, plus the mechanical fastener. The hole for the mechanical fastener will need to shrink but glued in pieces of wood. The glue contact point will need to be refreshed. Try hot steam in case it is hide glue or white vinegar in case it is yellow glue. Once apart, carefully scrape every vestige of old glue off. New glue does not stick to old glue. And those corners need every square millimeter to be strong. Such is the nature of chairs. Then you can deal with the finish.

    Hope you are not doing this as a favor or for a pittance. It will take a bunch of time to do it right.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carol Reed View Post
    I'd try to completely disassemble if possible.

    Hope you are not doing this as a favor or for a pittance. It will take a bunch of time to do it right.
    Price is open ended dependent on time to complete. However, taking the entire set of chairs apart might exceed expectations.

    Good points though. Will consider this as possibility for sure. How will those grooved connections between the rails and braces become unglued? Seems like steam/vinegar might not penetrate enough.
    Host of the 2017 Family Woodworking Gathering - Sunken Wood

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  4. #4
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    Hi Rennie
    The best way to repair the loose legs would be to disassemble and clean out the old glue but another option would be to drill holes from the tops of the legs to intersect the mortise and tenon joints and inject a 15 minute 2 part epoxy to fill in where the old glue has dried up and the joints have failed. I have used this method quite a bit with good results.
    Mike
    "why buy it if you can build it"
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  5. #5
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    Rennie,
    Whenever I repair a chair I always try to totaly disassemble it also. If the pieces are loose after taaking the screws out try gently working the pieces back and forth. Like carol said if it's hide glue steam it. Then clean up the pieces. In terms of refinishing if I had pictures of the whole chair I could make some suggestions.aybe you don't need to completely strip the chairs, don't know until I see the pieces.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  6. #6
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    Thanks Mike & Don. Some taking apart looks like it might go well. Not sure about the rest. Here are some more pics. Looks like fluted dowels for joints.

    Refinishing is not in the equation. Only request by the customer is get them to not 'wiggle' when in use. However Don, since you asked, I've included pics of the entire chair so you can get an idea on the finish. I believe the wood is pecan.
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  7. #7
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    Rennie,
    Theres a product I use for jobs like this called Howards Restore A Finish. Just scrape away the clue thats around the joints, light sand and wipe it down with the restore a finish. It will make those chairs look real good. I buy it a True Value.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  8. #8
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    That was easy

    Seems my fears were unfounded. The entire thing came apart with some gentle tapping. Now, the dowels that are still attached seem solid. Can I simply clean up the exposed ends and re-glue? What glue? Epoxy? Yellow? What does the FWW brain-trust prescribe?
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    Host of the 2017 Family Woodworking Gathering - Sunken Wood

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rennie Heuer View Post
    ...Can I simply clean up the exposed ends and re-glue? What glue? Epoxy? Yellow? What does the FWW brain-trust prescribe?...
    Rennie,
    What glue was used originally? I'd bet it was hide glue. A little warm water, or steam will tell you.

    Do the next repair guy a favor - USE HIDE GLUE! If the original was hide glue, you can simple scrape off as much of it as possible, then add the new. The new and old will melt together and bond well. Luthiers have been using this method for repairing violins for hundreds of years.

    Hot hide glue would be my preference, but Titebond Liquid Hide Glue or Old Brown Glue will work well, too.

    Whatever you do - PLEASE DON"T USE EPOXY!
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  10. #10
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    I'm afraid I must disagree with Jim on the hide glue. The reason why they orignaly used hide glue was it was the best thing available back then. Using hide glue now will insure that there will be another repair in the future. The newer glues such as tight bond will hold until the wood actualy fails and are the proper solution for modern chairs. I always use the best product available and have never had an unhappy customer on all of the repairs and restorations that I have done.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

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