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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a couple really old chairs, one of which has a broken "stretcher".

I'm trying to remove the short part from the one side, so I can put a long screw or brad in for strength after gluing.

I did find and remove a small brad that was helping hold the stretcher, but the thing still won't budge.

The finish is a bit cleaned off from some solvent I tried using to loosen the glue.

Any ideas how to get this piece out without damaging it?

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if that were my project, I would drill a hole in each end (it doesn't have to be pretty) and cut a 1/4" x 4" threaded rod or bolt and epoxy it into the inside of the spindle. like splinting a broken leg (sort of). a long wooden dowel will work just as well as a metal rod.
oh, to answer your question about "removing" the stub: I would use ViceGrips and pad it with paper towels and pull and wiggle like pulling a tooth. then do the repairs.
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Another option - if the appearance of the fix isn't "real" important get a dowel from one of the big box stores of the same or slightly larger diameter cut to the final length needed to completely replace from one leg to the other fit/glue/stain/finish. It'll work, but not as attractive as the original or John's method.
 

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The right way to fix that is remove the tenon. Use a heat gun to loosen up the glue. Careful not to hold it too close or too long or it will damage the finish. If it’s over 75 years old good chance it’s hide glue.

If the tenon is stuck that’s a good indicator it’s well built.

Orient the grain in the stretcher vertically for maximum strength against a foot..
 

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The right way to fix that is remove the tenon. Use a heat gun to loosen up the glue. Careful not to hold it too close or too long or it will damage the finish. If it’s over 75 years old good chance it’s hide glue.

If the tenon is stuck that’s a good indicator it’s well built.

Orient the grain in the stretcher vertically for maximum strength against a foot..
The part that broke is called a spindle, or stretcher. The end may be called a tenon.
This is the right way to do it. Use a heat gun to soften the hide glue. Wrap the short piece with several layers of blue tape and use a channel lock pliers to rotate it slightly when the glue is soft. Then it will pull right out, some wiggling required!
That break is clean enough to glue back together. The issue will be how to clamp it because it's round.
Take a 1 /12" square block 3" long or so, and drill a 1/2" hole down the center. Then saw it down the length and through the hole. Now you have a flat surface to clamp against. OR you can wrap it with electrical tape, because it will stretch as you tighten it around the break.
Sprinkle a small amount of salt in with the glue to keep the joint from sliding around when you apply clamping pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have a heat gun, so I'll give that a shot. Where should I aim it? From the "back" or straight at the broken piece? Also, how hot and how close?

The finish there is already a bit damaged, so I'm more worried about burning the wood.

I definitely want to get it out, then glue, then drill from the hidden and insert a long brad or even sheet metal screw (no taper), before reassembling.

Then I only have to fill the divot where the small brad was buried and repair the finish there before cleaning what is probably a lot of smoke residue off the rest of it and it's twin.

Any suggestions on something that will remove the smoke residue but leave the finish mostly alone? I doubt there's much varnish or shellac there.
 

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Aim it at the stuck piece and around the hole. The objective is to head the wood and transfer that to the glue. It should come out easily, you probably won’t need much. One way is a piece of rubber and pliers.

Use a screw not a nail. Trim head screws work good you don’t need to counter sink.

What’s the smoke damage? You could just sand it and refinish. If it’s a Windsor type chair they are usually painted.
 

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Apply the heat gradually and start trying to wiggle the piece at the same time. You will tell when it becomes loose. Keep it about 5" away as it can get very hot. I would try the lower heat setting at first. There are "burn in" wax colors that you can use to fill the divot. stain won't work with most wood putties.

Use some 0000 steel wool to remove any loose finish and it will blend what's there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Aim it at the stuck piece and around the hole. The objective is to head the wood and transfer that to the glue. It should come out easily, you probably won’t need much. One way is a piece of rubber and pliers.

Use a screw not a nail. Trim head screws work good you don’t need to counter sink.

What’s the smoke damage? You could just sand it and refinish. If it’s a Windsor type chair they are usually painted.
"smoke" damage is smoke residue from possibly decades of heavy smokers. That's why the untouched parts above are so black. But I reckon it's a fine line between removing the smoke residue and removing finish.
 

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I wouldn't take it apart. The angle which that rung is broken you could just glue it back together with wood glue and put a spring clamp on it. You might have to put a bar clamp across the exterior to keep the joint from sliding apart. It will make a strong joint if done right.
 

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This video will help in taking the chair stretcher apart:
 

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First off let me say never use a brad or screw to fix this problem, it doesn't work and ruins the chair. Heat works, also applying vinegar will loosen yellow glue joints. If it was me the best fix is to turn a new spindle but that is not for most. Another option if you can't the tendon out is using a 2 part epoxy, you have a good surface area, apply the epoxy, position the spindle, wrap with wax paper. then I use rubber straps I make from bike inner tubes. Clamping tapered round surfaces is a pain in the butt. Epoxy can set in 5 minutes but I always let it cure for 24 hours. A razor blade will remove any excess epoxy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
First off let me say never use a brad or screw to fix this problem, it doesn't work and ruins the chair. Heat works, also applying vinegar will loosen yellow glue joints. If it was me the best fix is to turn a new spindle but that is not for most. Another option if you can't the tendon out is using a 2 part epoxy, you have a good surface area, apply the epoxy, position the spindle, wrap with wax paper. then I use rubber straps I make from bike inner tubes. Clamping tapered round surfaces is a pain in the butt. Epoxy can set in 5 minutes but I always let it cure for 24 hours. A razor blade will remove any excess epoxy.
The brad, pin or screw I would be using would only be after getting the broken piece out and after gluing the two parts back together. Then I would put something in from the end that would then go back into the hole and therefore be hidden. Like putting a pin in a broken bone, just something for extra strength that wouldn't be visible.
 

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First off let me say never use a brad or screw to fix this problem, it doesn't work and ruins the chair. Heat works, also applying vinegar will loosen yellow glue joints. If it was me the best fix is to turn a new spindle but that is not for most. Another option if you can't the tendon out is using a 2 part epoxy, you have a good surface area, apply the epoxy, position the spindle, wrap with wax paper. then I use rubber straps I make from bike inner tubes. Clamping tapered round surfaces is a pain in the butt. Epoxy can set in 5 minutes but I always let it cure for 24 hours. A razor blade will remove any excess epoxy.
Agreed!
The video I posted show how difficult it is to remove a nail. Don't do it unless you will never see the chair again or need to repair it. He had to destroy the stretchers to get the nails out. Then he had to turn new ones, PITA!
They will NOT add any strength, just make it impossible to take apart with some destruction.
A small dowel glued into the hole, and sanded flush before you assemble the tenon would be my suggestion.
 
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I wouldn't take it apart. The angle which that rung is broken you could just glue it back together with wood glue and put a spring clamp on it. You might have to put a bar clamp across the exterior to keep the joint from sliding apart. It will make a strong joint if done right.
Agree...I've fixed many of these breaks in the shop..

Unless your replacing the spindle, there's no reason to dismantle it...

What that saying...." glue is stronger than wood itself"
 

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I wouldn't take it apart. The angle which that rung is broken you could just glue it back together with wood glue and put a spring clamp on it. You might have to put a bar clamp across the exterior to keep the joint from sliding apart. It will make a strong joint if done right.
This isn’t a given. Do a dry clamp first. You might just get lucky. The few broken spindles I’ve repaired the spindles pretty much fell out of the tenons so it’s not an issue. One that I left in and tried Steve’s suggestion I couldn’t get aligned,
 

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It is a given. If this was falling out wouldnt it have been mentioned?

He is struggling to get it out. Maybe it should have been left alone...
 

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Agree...I've fixed many of these breaks in the shop..

Unless your replacing the spindle, there's no reason to dismantle it...

What that saying...." glue is stronger than wood itself"
That quote is only true in certain circumstances, if your dealing with a break like that you may have raised wood fibers that prevent a good alignment that have to be removed or small missing pieces. Wood glue doesn't perform well when there are gaps, that's why in some cases I opt for epoxy, a dry fit will let you know which way to go.
 

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This isn’t a given. Do a dry clamp first. You might just get lucky. The few broken spindles I’ve repaired the spindles pretty much fell out of the tenons so it’s not an issue. One that I left in and tried Steve’s suggestion I couldn’t get aligned,
I couldn't begin to guess how many I've repaired like that and didn't have any problems. Now if had been poorly repaired previously then I just cut it off, drill it out and turn a new rung. That is easier than trying to fix someone else's work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Seemingly most of the rest of the connections are loose...except this one and the other end of the cross stretcher.

All 4 legs came out of the seat and the side stretchers are a bit loose, but still have the brads holding them in.

I may do the heat gun idea over the long weekend, just to see if I can get the small piece out.

The long end needs to go a good half inch into the leg if I'm to fix it without removing this piece and it doesn't seem like it wants to go back in easily.
 
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