Newbie question: re-gluing antique chair - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 03-29-2016, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
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Question Newbie question: re-gluing antique chair

Hello, I am new on this forum. I have very little experience with woodworking, but I've always been tinkering with different projects. The most advanced thing I ever built was a finger-jointed paintbox, - so, pretty much a total newbie.
I wonder if I could get some advice from the pros. I am restoring what appears to be an early 20th century Johnson Co. chair that I found in the trash. I thought I would just refinish it and tighten a couple of screws and it would be all great again, but as I was stripping and sending it, I discovered that a lot of the glue joints were loose. I knocked off some parts of the chair, but now I realize that I probably should disassemble it almost completely and re-glue the whole thing. My question is - should I glue the rails to the seat, or just attach it with the screws? The seat is a solid oak board, and the rails are attached with 8 screws and wooden corner brackets. I am not sure if the rails were originally glued to the seat. Would the chair just fall apart because of dimensional/seasonal changes if I glue the front and rear rails to the seat (across the grain)? Please see the pic below - It shows the detached front rail and leg. Would it be better to glue down just the side rails, which go along the grain of the seat, and leave the front and back rails attached only with the screws? Also, should I use animal hide glue to match the original, or clean up all the dowels and use yellow wood glue? I'd greatly appreciate any advice. Thank you so much, mike
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post #2 of 6 Old 03-29-2016, 01:28 AM
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The experts will help soon but I would not glue the seat to the chair..
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post #3 of 6 Old 03-29-2016, 06:28 AM
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I too would not glue the seat to the chair.
Put the chair back together the way it was originally made. Being relatively new at woodworking, don't try to second guess any original designs especially ones that have lasted almost a hundred years.
Given enough time, all furniture will eventually have to be re-glued. And when the time comes, it is best if you can take the whole chair apart for the re-gluing. Fortunately, the older ones come apart relatively easily. Not so with the new ones. This makes repairing relatively new stuff a nightmare at times.
Chairs take more stress than just about any other furniture piece.

Tony B Retired woodworker, among other things.

"Strive for excellence and settle for completion" Tony B
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post #4 of 6 Old 03-29-2016, 07:28 AM
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Don't glue the seat. Wood expands and contracts and gluing the seat will put stress on the chair to come apart. When you glue it clean as much of the old glue off as you can and reglue it with a slow set two-part epoxy. Wood glues work by soaking into the wood and turn to plastic. If it's a reglue the wood is sealed with the old glue so the glue is prevented from soaking in. Epoxies are designed for non-porous surfaces. I know the slow set epoxy is difficult to find but it's important. It takes more than 5 minutes to assemble a chair back together even with help and the glue might set up before you can get it together and clamp it.
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post #5 of 6 Old 03-29-2016, 08:01 AM
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You can glue some of the joints, but ....

Glue all the rest of the joints except the seat bottom to the rails. If the screws are loose, slice some triangluar wedges and dip them in glue and drive them in the holes, tapping lightly with a small hammer. Now the screws wiull haver a good bite when you reassemble the parts. I refinished a couple of 100 year old chairs in this thread. You may find it helpful:

I used Gorilla wood glue for the joints, because it expands slightly and will fill small gaps in the loose fitting joints.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #6 of 6 Old 03-29-2016, 02:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for all the great advice! This is very helpful!
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antique chair, dimensional changes, re-glue, restoration

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