Broken chair leg - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 Old 07-13-2020, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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Broken chair leg

I have 8 dining room chairs. Two have wiggly backs. They are parsons chairs. When I investigated I found that one of the rear legs/back supports is not a solid piece but pieces together just higher than the seat. What kind of bracing could I use to strengthen it? It won't show under the upholstery so a metal piece perhaps?
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post #2 of 8 Old 07-13-2020, 07:06 PM
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Amy, I would expect a ďbraceĒ that is on the outside of the leg to have a limited lifespan. I think your best and strongest repair would be to cut the leg and then insert a wooden dowel or metal lag thatís long enough to grab the uncompromised wood in the leg.

If thatís more trouble than itís worth, then simply screwing metal plates to all four sides, making sure they extend past the damaged wood and are screwed into good wood, will probably buy you ten years of life, so long as itís done with a little care.
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post #3 of 8 Old 07-13-2020, 08:04 PM
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Unfortunately ....

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Originally Posted by Amy s View Post
I have 8 dining room chairs. Two have wiggly backs. They are parsons chairs. When I investigated I found that one of the rear legs/back supports is not a solid piece but pieces together just higher than the seat. What kind of bracing could I use to strengthen it? It won't show under the upholstery so a metal piece perhaps?
That's known as a "finger joint" and it's in the worst possible location for the back support. It is almost impossible to separate it and use any dowel up through the center, not a job for the inexperienced either. Your best bet is to use metal mending plates screwed into the front and rear of the leg support with 1/2" to 3/4" long screws, probably a number 6.The plates should be as wide as the wood and have at least 3 screws per top and bottom on each plate for a total of 6. The plates will need to be bent to conform to the bend in the wood, no big deal using a vise and a mallet, but check for proper fit each time as you bend it slightly.

mending plates:
https://www.homedepot.com/b/Building...2727,2701,2758

If you can separate the joints far enough to brush epoxy in between the fingers, that would be good! Do NOT use glue, only epoxy as it's the only adhesive that will adhere to old glue or other adhesives. Align the pieces as close to original as possible. You don't need clamping pressure with epoxy, just secure it from moving with what ever you have on hand..... strong tape etc.

If you understand what happens to the structural forces when you lean backwards, the front face of the joint is in "tension" the rear face is in "compression" and the wood in the very center is in equilibrium. That's why I recommended putting the plates on the front and rear faces, the front being in tension which is best for the metal plate. The screws will have to pull out for it to fail. If you put the plates on the sides, the screws would have to shear off, for it to fail. The best location structurally is certainly up for debate ......

I would go ahead and reinforce the other chair backs, if only by putting a mending plate on the front face where there is the most stress/force.

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; 07-13-2020 at 09:38 PM.
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post #4 of 8 Old 07-13-2020, 08:46 PM
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Ouch. That joint should never never have been put there. In my opinion, there is no repair. That whole leg/back support piece is sometimes under a lot of stress; especially at that location. If you need to fix the chair, replace the entire leg/back support with a continuous replacement piece. Not an easy task. Otherwise, you are just inviting disaster as someone sits, leans back, and the repair snaps and someone ends up on the floor; hopefully uninjured. If the chair has value, it might be worth a complete leg/back replacement. Otherwise, throw it away and replace the whole chair.
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post #5 of 8 Old 07-14-2020, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. One chair is fixed and I'm happy with it. Most of the chairs don't get used often so I went with the mending plates. Front and back made it feel very sturdy. For added lifespan, I identified it with a thumbtack on the bottom of the seat so even as chairs get moved to vacuum and such I can be sure the chair ends up in a least used spot. I'll tackle the other one tomorrow.
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post #6 of 8 Old 07-14-2020, 08:27 PM
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To me that looks more like a pocket screws repair than a finger joint.
I would opt for cutting it and using a dowel.
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post #7 of 8 Old 07-14-2020, 08:34 PM
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Get a syringe that can pass glue. Pull apart as far as you can and flood it with the correct glue. You need to find someone on the foru or Internet that can give you the correct glue as it has to bond to the old as well....
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post #8 of 8 Old 07-14-2020, 08:42 PM
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I buy mine from Ebay...
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