Shortening chair leg - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 07-04-2019, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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Shortening chair leg

I bought a small antique chair for practicing banjo, but it’s too tall so I can’t keep my feet flat on the floor. I want to shorten it by 1-1/2”, but it’s got carved or turned balls on the end that I want to preserve.

Any ideas how I can do this and make it invisible ?

Here’s a picture. The dime gives an idea of scale.
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post #2 of 20 Old 07-04-2019, 11:49 AM
where's my table saw?
 
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I wouldn't do anything to the chair ....

YOU could get some platform shoes and raise your feet off the ground OR use a foam block 2" thick for your feet.



There's just not a good way to saw it off and reglue the piece back on and get it "invisible" as well as strong as original... BUT if that's your only choice here's a method. Wrap painter's tape around the cut off area and make a couple of lines running parallel to the leg for orientation later. Use a fine tooth saw, a Japanese pull saw and a guide block for 1 1/2" length and squareness.



After sawing the 1 1/2" off, the next issue is making holes in both the end and the leg for a 1/2" or 5/8" dowel. Make another guide block with a large hole for the leg diameter and a 1/2" hole for the dowel to keep the holes on center. Use a drill press and Forstner bits. The holes should be about 1/2" to 3/4" deep on the leg parts.



Next comes gluing or epoxy to reattach the ends. I'd use epoxy for strength and bonding to end grain. Line up your marks and ... go for it. If you work fast, before the epoxy sets up, flip the chair back on it's legs and put some books on the seat. Wait 24 HRs before sitting on it.


Here's the biggest issue!
When taking out a section from a tapered leg, chances are that the diameters will not match up perfectly. So, your only choice to get an invisible joint is to sand down the larger diameter. OR ... by carefully choosing where on the foot to make your bottom cut the diameter may match up......
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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)

Last edited by woodnthings; 07-04-2019 at 11:55 AM.
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post #3 of 20 Old 07-04-2019, 09:41 PM
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Letís be straight foreward and honest,.. this really canít be done, unless you can pull the legs out of the seat itself, and then cut them off and re-insert them.

However I have been condemned for giving honest advice, so ignore as you wish
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post #4 of 20 Old 07-05-2019, 07:31 AM
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Quick - can you post a photo of the whole stool ?
(especially where the legs attach to the seat).
I am thinking to address any cuts under the seat,
not the feet.

.

.
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Last edited by John Smith_inFL; 07-05-2019 at 07:34 AM.
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post #5 of 20 Old 07-05-2019, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
Quick - can you post a photo of the whole stool ?
(especially where the legs attach to the seat).
I am thinking to address any cuts under the seat,
not the feet.

.

.
My thoughts also, focus on the other end.

"Fast is Fine, but Accuracy is Final, You Must Learn to be Slow in a Hurry!
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post #6 of 20 Old 07-05-2019, 07:59 AM
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You might build a platform with holes in it where the legs go and let the chair still sit on the floor. Other than something like that about the only fix would be to cut the chair apart and make new shorter legs for it.
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post #7 of 20 Old 07-05-2019, 08:03 AM
where's my table saw?
 
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There's another way ..... even easier?

Don't try to make an invisible joints as I suggested above.
Just cut the 1 1/2" off the bottom, use the metal glide pounded in and let that be the finished foot. Sure, it won't have the original look, but it will be a whole lot easier than removing the leg from the seat OR trying to join two tapered pieces.




If you have a lathe, you could make a sleeve with a "ball look" and slide it up the non-tapered portion right where it appears on the photo, and epoxy it on. It won't have matching grain, but it will duplicate the original look. It won't make it any stronger, just for looks.

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)

Last edited by woodnthings; 07-05-2019 at 08:09 AM.
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post #8 of 20 Old 07-05-2019, 09:33 AM
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Can you post a photo of the whole chair, please?
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post #9 of 20 Old 07-05-2019, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
If you have a lathe, you could make a sleeve with a "ball look" and slide it up the non-tapered portion right where it appears on the photo, and epoxy it on. It won't have matching grain, but it will duplicate the original look. It won't make it any stronger, just for looks.

I'm liking this idea! Do you think I could cut the ball off of this one and drill a hole in it to accept the shortened leg? (not counting that I'm not sure how I'd drill that hole accurately.

PS, I do have a lathe, so making a new one is an option.
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post #10 of 20 Old 07-05-2019, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
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I'll post a picture of the whole chair when I get home, but...


The rear legs are also part of the back


and...


There are stretchers between all four legs


and...


It's sturdy so messin' with it seems unwise
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post #11 of 20 Old 07-11-2019, 10:32 PM
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Leave that stool/chair alone and don't butcher it. Buy a better stool/chair for your banjo playing.
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post #12 of 20 Old 07-11-2019, 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by TobyC View Post
Leave that stool/chair alone and don't butcher it. Buy a better stool/chair for your banjo playing.
My Sentiments exactly.
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post #13 of 20 Old 07-12-2019, 02:58 AM
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Woodnthings, thanks for the good advice. You just gave me a way to solve a similar problem that I have.
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post #14 of 20 Old 07-12-2019, 07:39 AM
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Antique? Don't touch it. Go to a second hand store as Goodwill or Wally World/Target/Big Lots and get a chair that fits...or make a wood block to put your feet on.
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post #15 of 20 Old 07-12-2019, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
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Leave that stool/chair alone and don't butcher it. Buy a better stool/chair for your banjo playing

That’s what my wife says. This thing is hardly a priceless antique. I paid $30 for it at an antique store. But, I guess I’ll leave it alone and use a prop under my feet until I find another chair.
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post #16 of 20 Old 08-10-2019, 12:22 PM
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I never gauge the value of something by what I paid for it. Looks like you have a nice red oak piece there, and rats, dogs, and cats have not used the legs to chew on, or scratch on, enjoy it for what it is, if you cut it you will eventually regret it.
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post #17 of 20 Old 08-10-2019, 12:45 PM
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There is a lesson here, one I learned a long time ago, when I buy something to serve a certain purpose I alter it immediately if necessary before anyone else gets to see it in the original form.

That way I found something that amazingly was just perfect for the job and I did not disturb the universe by altering it.
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post #18 of 20 Old 08-11-2019, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quickstep View Post
Leave that stool/chair alone and don't butcher it. Buy a better stool/chair for your banjo playing

Thatís what my wife says. This thing is hardly a priceless antique. I paid $30 for it at an antique store. But, I guess Iíll leave it alone and use a prop under my feet until I find another chair.
Hi Quick,

What you "paid" for it is moot...

And whether its priceless or not does not remove the simple fact that someone made it the way it is for a reason of both design and intent. I'm not a complete purest, please don't think I am or that I am thinking poorly of your possible "repurposing choice." Sometimes it just does not matter for a given piece what we do to it in the way of "butchering it" (I like that word as it is proper in my view...thank you TobyC) however, I am always acutely aware of the disrespect I might be showing the item itself and/or it's original creator. Not to do so is simply ignorance and contempt too often present by too many today...

Again, for value, I have seen (just recently ONCE AGAIN!!!!) a piece exchange hands many times for a simple pittance in price only to turn up actually have way more value that the "expert" actually understood it to have. Great for my client and the "experts" loss...

Make yourself a Banjo stool of your own design that perhaps follows the same Appalachian folk styles that goes with this most American of instruments!!! Then perhaps even make your own banjo!!! If you do, I will gladly tell you how (and of what) the head leather is best made off...

Good luck Brother...!

j
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post #19 of 20 Old 08-11-2019, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
There is a lesson here, one I learned a long time ago, when I buy something to serve a certain purpose I alter it immediately if necessary before anyone else gets to see it in the original form.

That way I found something that amazingly was just perfect for the job and I did not disturb the universe by altering it.
...also saving the ďpieceĒ from being tossed in the landfill, giving it a second useful life.
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post #20 of 20 Old 08-11-2019, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Onefreetexan View Post
Letís be straight foreward and honest,.. this really canít be done, unless you can pull the legs out of the seat itself, and then cut them off and re-insert them.

However I have been condemned for giving honest advice, so ignore as you wish

This seems the only way to do the job. The legs are tapered so you cannot cut a section out of the legs. You do not want to ruin the ball. So that only leaves the top of the legs to be cut off.


George
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