fixing pews - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-16-2012, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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fixing pews

Hi all,
I'm new here and hope to be around a little bit. I do mostly floor work but am trying to get a name doing floors as fine trim work. I guess one way to say it is I look at every detail as a focal point in my floors I also see myself getting more into other finish work as my business progresses.
Anyway on a recent job sanding a chapel, I got a job putting windows in the doors to classrooms in the same church. After that I put in an open staircase for the maintenance guy from the church. Now he asked if I'd be interested in repairing the pews that have loosened up over the last hundred years. I feel comfortable doing the work but I always like to look into it and do it the right way. He has told me how much these seats mean to the people of the church, some have sat in the same spot for fifty years.
I guess my question is what type of glue to use and things I should expect in century old joinery. I will be looking at one next week and will be able to add more to this but for now just looking to gain something before I see it.

Thanks Much,
Stu
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-17-2012, 08:01 AM
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It's more than likely that the joinery was done with hot hide glue. For good fitting joints its a very good glue. If parts are missing from the mating members, and there are gaps, a two part epoxy may be needed. You'll be working with joinery that has been glued (most likely), unless all the joints are glueless and pegged or wedging of a tenon was done.

Heat will loosen the joint, and it can be reactivated. You might do some samples, and read up on the repairing, and use of hide glue. Here is a good article.

If the joinery was done or repaired with another type glue, the more you do to get at the joint, the more likely you'll change the fit. So, care has to be taken.









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post #3 of 15 Old 08-17-2012, 08:29 AM
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Regluing a church pews is usually not a one person job so I wouldn't take the job if you are working alone. More often than not the contour of the seats and backs will flatten out when you take the end of the pew off and help is needed to bend the parts to get them back into the mortise. After I remove the ends of the pew I normally use a router with a straight cut bit and clean the mortise of the old glue. You just have to be careful not to touch the sides of the mortise or you will enlarge the hole. I would use a slow drying two part epoxy glue to reglue the pew ends. A carpenters glue works by soaking into the wood and turning hard. Since it is a reglue the woodgrain is sealed with the old glue so carpenters glue wouldn't have anything to get a bite on. More than likely the pews are oak so when you put the ends of the pews back on I would use a 8 lb sledge hammer with a sanded smooth block of whitewood pine to get the ends to go completely back on. If the pews are a softer wood I would just use a rubber mallet.
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-17-2012, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info guys. I was wondering about a hide glue, I kinda feel like doing it with traditional methods. Some of the people have been sitting in the same spots for fifty years, and I want treat them as if it were as sentimental to me as they are to them.

Any more info is very welcome, thanks Much.
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post #5 of 15 Old 08-17-2012, 04:43 PM
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In my opinion you would have the same problem with hide glue as wood glue. You would be gluing glue to glue. My first choice would be epoxy and second would be a polyurethane glue. If you were building new pews then the hide glue or carpenters glue would work fine. A reglue needs different stuff.
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post #6 of 15 Old 08-17-2012, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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I was thinking another option might be the 3m weld wood epoxy (I think its called). I have used it for floors in the past so I already have the gun. I can drill a 3/32 hole and inject epoxy. I thought about trying it that way so I wouldn't have to actually pull it all apart (easy way out right). Maybe inject in a couple places, clamp, then drill and inject more. I use soft wax and know I can make the holes disappear.
That brings up another thing I guess, I've been wanting to learn how to burn in filler, is it shellac or lacquer based I can't remember? I've talked with a couple guys that do it, sounds like its becoming a lost art like a lot of woodworking techniques I guess.
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post #7 of 15 Old 08-17-2012, 08:24 PM
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IMO, you'll have more of a problem with gluing using an inordinate glue. As it is you aren't sure what glue was used. I also wouldn't recommend disassembly to get to the total joint area. If it is hide glue (very likely), heating the joint will loosen the glue, and can be reglued (reactivated) with hot hide glue. I would clamp up to pull joints together, in lieu of using a sledge hammer.

Burn in sticks are shellac sticks.





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post #8 of 15 Old 08-17-2012, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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How do you go about heating up the joint without affecting the finish.
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-17-2012, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stusfloorsanding View Post
How do you go about heating up the joint without affecting the finish.
Use a heat gun.





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post #10 of 15 Old 08-17-2012, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
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Sure now I feel like an idiot. I guess I figured with that much wood and that large of a joint it would be tuff. I don't know how much heat it takes to loosen the glue. I'm sure I'll have all new questions when I go look at them but either way I like to learn what I can, I'm sure I'll use it someday if not on this project.

Thanks for your patience, I can't wait to learn more.
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post #11 of 15 Old 08-18-2012, 06:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stusfloorsanding View Post
I was thinking another option might be the 3m weld wood epoxy (I think its called). I have used it for floors in the past so I already have the gun. I can drill a 3/32 hole and inject epoxy. I thought about trying it that way so I wouldn't have to actually pull it all apart (easy way out right). Maybe inject in a couple places, clamp, then drill and inject more. I use soft wax and know I can make the holes disappear.
That brings up another thing I guess, I've been wanting to learn how to burn in filler, is it shellac or lacquer based I can't remember? I've talked with a couple guys that do it, sounds like its becoming a lost art like a lot of woodworking techniques I guess.
The problem I see with trying to inject glue is you wouldn't know where you could insert it that it spread out and do some good. I think if you are going to drill holes and inject glue I would also put finish screws in the holes in case the glue didn't help. It's not hard to learn to burn in but I would practice on something else before you try it for a customer. Go to www.mohawk-finishing.com/ What you will need is a selection of burn in sticks and they are made of shellac. You will need a burn in knife. It is like a combination putty knife and a soldering iron and I would recommend a can of burn in lube. You would let the burn in knife sit and heat fully hot before you make an attempt to use it. Then you would take the stick which is hard as a rock and use the knife to melt off some of it and dab it on the spot you are trying to fill. Then add some burn in lube on the surface and you draw the knife across it using heat rather than pressure to smooth out the burn in material. The finish will often soften from the heat so if you use pressure you can drag the finish or at least scratch it with the burn in knife making a mark. It's just a little tricky heating the shellac stick in without blistering the finish with the heat of the iron so it is something that needs some practice. The burn in lube will help to get the excess of the shellac material off when you are smoothing it out. It will otherwise stick to the surface and you will have to go over the spot over and over to squeegee the excess off.
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post #12 of 15 Old 08-24-2012, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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So I went to look at them and it seems pretty straight forward. They're only loosening from the ends, seems like they must have only been glued originally but have had nails added to "fix" them in the past.
The backs and benches are in good shape other than some splitting down the boards but not at the joints. Seems like I shouldn't have a problem gluing and clamping those.
Now I guess the only question is what to use for glue in the mortis. I know my weld wood sets up a little faster than I'd like, but I'm pretty sure there is glue in wood. I would say there 60-80 years old.

Thanks guys
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post #13 of 15 Old 08-28-2012, 05:24 AM
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When I changed pew in a church I found that they were m and t into the floor and pinned with dowels under the floor which is only accessible from the ducts in the basement not sure if yours are the same but I found the pins had dropped out just a case of glueing them back in but not very nice in the tiny ducts
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post #14 of 15 Old 09-06-2012, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Any ideas on what to use for glue here. Or would some titebond polyurethane be fine for this?
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post #15 of 15 Old 09-06-2012, 11:23 PM
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This may be a similar issue

These chairs are from around 1910 or so and had loose joints everywhere. I thought the only right way to fix them would be to take them apart, re dowel some of the joints, clean up the dowels and holes on the sound ones and then reglue. I used Gorilla white glue. It expands somewhat, and I am very happy with the strength and rigidity....but removing the glue squeeze out is a bugger. I thought I had wiped off the excess but I didn't get it all and it does not take stain well. I had to locally scrape it off and restain with a small brush.
Here's the thread:
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f9/wh...s-these-39917/

I also have some old church pews that I have disassembled and the dark residue looks like hide glue.... possibly. My plan is to remove the glue and reassemble them. In your case you won't be disassembling them and that is the big issue for getting a strong joint. I have used liquid nails on stair threads and other joints where I wanted a strong "gap filling" adhesive and it works well and hardens great. Used in a caulking gun with a small tip opening, it may be enough to force the soft adhesive into the gaps. It's worth a try.... bill

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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