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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Loose Chair Joints - updated - broken chair arm :(

Hi All,
I have 8 mahogany dining chairs. When I got them they were quite damaged although reasonably sturdy. I have completely stripped them and have done some repairs to the veneer which was water damaged. I'm not at the point where I need to finish the big repairs so that I can get to sanding and staining.

I'll try to post some pics of the project as I go, just trying to figure out how!

So the legs are joined with dowel and some have pulled away slightly so the whole chair is just a bit creaky. I would rather not pull them apart completely and had originally though I could just squeeze some glue into the tiny space and then use a clamp or a rubber mallet to press the pieces back together.
Everything I have read says I should take the chair apart but I'm really nervous to do it and the amount of play in the chair is minimal so I thought this method might be worth a try.
Thoughts?
 

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In general, new glue won't adhere to older glue

That's why the recommendation to take them apart so you csn scrape off the old glue. You would rather not do that, so the next best option is to use a slow 2 part epoxy squirted or forced into the joints as far as possible. You can work the back frame separately from the front and leave the sides for last OR try to do them all at once. It is "scary" to take them all apart, but that's the best way to insure solid joints. I did that here:
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f9/what-chairs-these-39917/
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well I got brave and now have it mostly apart. I'm just on vacation for a week but will post pics as soon as I'm back!
 

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We have an introduction section where you can say a few words about yourself. If you fill out your profile in your "User Control Panel", you can list any hobbies, experience or other facts. You can also list your general geographical location which would be a help in answering some questions.

Try to do as minimal amount of cleaning off the old glue. The more you do, the more it's likely you'll change the fit. Use a two part epoxy to reglue.





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Cabinetman & woodnthings: My inclination would be to use hide glue. I am curious as to why you both recommend using epoxy? Note* This is not a disagreement or criticism, I am interested in your reasons.
I would use hot hide glue if it was previously glued with hide glue. But, without knowing, and there might be the presence of another glue, and gaps, a two part epoxy would be my choice.






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sure

My reasons were that old glue doesn't adhere to new glue like epoxy will and that the epoxy will fill voids better than glue...if it were to be used.
I'm only slightly familiar with hide glue, having never used it personally, but my luthier friends like it because it can be heated and loosed more easily. I believe it has a short set time and would be a challenge in a reassembly process.. JMO.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
As soon as I'm not on my I phone I'll go look around and set up my profile.
I have been using regular old lepage wood glue to repair the veneer that had pulled away due to water damage but can see the benefit of epoxy.
Is it worth sanding the chair while it's apart or should I just put it back together then sand?
One of the chairs has a veneer that might need redoing so that will be my next question but I'm going to need pics for that!
 

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I also recommend using the slow set two part epoxy. It's getting harder to find the slow set but is well worth the trouble. It's time consuming to assemble a chair and the 5 minute epoxy starts to set up before you get it alltogether and clamped. I then set the chair on the cast iron top of my table saw to check it for level. Chairs are usually are harder to reglue then newly built chairs because many times the old glue has completely filled the holes and doesn't leave room for the new glue. I normally scrape off as much of the old glue as possible and re-drill the holes just removing the old glue. Then the chairs will assemble as well as if they were new wood.
 

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Another option, if there's room, is to saw the old dowels off flush, re-drill the holes and use new (larger) dowels. If any break when you take it apart, it's almost a must.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Thanks for all the great advice. I am likely going to use West System epoxy since it's a bit slower to set. The captain's chair is now apart and I have drilled out all of the old dowel. There was a lot since nearly all of them were so old they disintegrated when I tried to twist them out with pliers.

Unfortunately when pulling the chair apart both arms broke in exactly the same spot. The question now is do I just epoxy them together or do I fit them with dowels so the fix is stronger.
It's toward the end of the arm where your forearm, wrist or hand would rest.
I have posted a couple of pics but the uploaded was being difficult so there are only four.
 

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Since you drilled out the old dowels, a yellow woodworkers glue would likely be your best option. The epoxy is good if you need to fill voids. It might work just fine either way though, I'm not sure about that. As for repairing the arms, glueing should be fine if the break reveals the grain of the wood lengthwise. If you're looking at all end grain, use a dowel.
 

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wouldn't you know...

..... that the break would be on the thinnest, weakest portion of the arm rest? :yes:

One solution would be to just glue it back together, since a "good" mating glue joint is as strong as the surrounding wood. The tricky part here is clamping it back together. A trick that I have seen used is to Hot Glue blocks on both sides to allow the clamps a gripping surface. They can be easily popped off afterward.

Another is to carefully align a dowel in the center of the break and reglue it... rather tricky. This MAY require sanding both surfaces flat to make the doweling alignment easier.

Finally, a spline centered in the joint that reaches back 3/4" or so would probably be the strongest repair, but it will show unfortunately. Here again it will be tricky getting both slots perfectly aligned with out a jig or a router table.

If it were mine I would attempt the reglue, no dowels, no splines, just mate the pieces back together and use Titebond 2 or 3 for the glue. It will be as strong as the original and if not abused, it should last a long time. It will also be virtually invisible. :yes:
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You were right about it being the weakest spot woodnthings. I used your idea of the blocks but instead of using blocks I used clamps and then clamped the clamps with other clamps. I'll link a pic in a sec. I just unclamped the first and it looks great so on to the next. Tomorrow night I'll put them back onto the body of the chair with the same technique.
 

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you can't have too many clamps

You can even clamp your own clamps..... you're movin' right on up in the world of woodworking when you show that kind of ingenuity! :yes:
 

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I used clamps and then clamped the clamps with other clamps.
Clamps are great when they can be used to access clamping a joint. If you use 'handscrew clamps', they can clamp at different angles and parallel. They provide a flat surface on their body that is easy to clamp to. One of my favorite clamps, in many different sizes.

S50046-ftp-b.jpg handclamps1.jpg






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Discussion Starter #19
I know my father has some of those clamps. I'll have to "steal" some the next time I'm home!
Next question (and again, thanks for all the great help): one of my joints didn't look as snug as I would have liked it even though it was doweled, glued and clamped. It feels strong but I'm wondering if I should leave it or try to get it apart and redo it?
 

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I know my father has some of those clamps. I'll have to "steal" some the next time I'm home!
Next question (and again, thanks for all the great help): one of my joints didn't look as snug as I would have liked it even though it was doweled, glued and clamped. It feels strong but I'm wondering if I should leave it or try to get it apart and redo it?
Only you can decide that. It's difficult to comment, as the joint can't be inspected on a forum. If it feels secure, maybe just leave it. Sometimes the more you fiddle with something it could make it worse.






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