Effective techniques to repair a broken chair

July 28, 2015

A good chair is there for you, providing relaxation and comfort whenever you need it. It's hard to give up on a good chair when it becomes damaged, so here are some tips to help you repair your chair and give you many more years together.

Effective techniques to repair a broken chair

Fix a shrunken rail

The spindles or rails of old wooden chairs can easily come loose or get detached. We'll teach you how to fit them back snugly and glue them tight.

  • Sometimes the rail has shrunk in diameter, and so is too loose to glue. If so, saw a slot in the rail's end no deeper than the hole it goes in. Insert a wooden wedge cut to the length of the slot, but don't push it all the way in.
  • Apply wood glue, then insert the rail into its hole. Hammer the leg onto the rail, and use a wooden block to prevent damage to the chair leg. The wedge will force the rail-end open and make it fit tight.

Repair a loose rail

  • Sometimes all you need to do is glue the rail back by using wood glue (follow the directions on the package). Be sure you clamp the chair in position for at least 12 hours.
  • To clamp the chair, place protective pieces of thick cardboard around the chair legs, and then wrap a double length of cord around the chair. Insert a length of wood through the cords at the front, and twist to tighten like a tourniquet. This holds everything in position. Jam the wood against a rail to keep the cord from untwisting.

Fix a wobbly chair

  • If one of the legs is too long, it's probably only by a small amount. Take some sandpaper and carefully rub away some of the leg end. Keep testing it on a smooth, hard, level surface until it stops wobbling.
  • If one of the chair legs is too short, try experimenting with a series of thin slivers of plywood. Build them up one by one until the chair stops wobbling.
  • Glue the appropriate number of slivers to the leg end and to each other and allow them to dry. Trim off excess wood with a trimming knife and smooth the end with sandpaper. Stain or varnish as necessary.

A good chair is like a good friend: it makes you feel comfortable and supported. Use these tips to keep your chair in good shape and it will return the favor by providing many more years of support.

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