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Hello all

I have received an antique rocking chair for repair.

The owner of the chair has children that accidentally broke the of this chair while using it. She says that she used it as a child, her mother had it as a child and the grandmother before that. The grandmothers childhood was around 1910 or so.

The patina of the wood seems to me to suggest that is correct. She wants the chair to be repaired to full functionality. Functionality is more important than preserving maximum dollar value of the chair as an antique.

It is my intent to make the most aesthetically pleasing repair possible and to do justice to the original craftsmanship.

I have two questions about this chair:

1: What is the best way to repair this chair?

2: The way this chair is put together makes me curious and would like to learn more about it. The tongue is cut at a curve and the slot into which it was inserted is not only cut at a curve is much larger than the tongue. It looks to me like a modern biscuit cutter was used. Is that even possible? Any thoughts on why this slot would have been cut so much larger? Any other thoughts about the history or the crafting of this chair? I am eager student.
 

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It is difficult for me to tell from the pictures if there is wood actually broken or if the problem is that the back rest has come unglued from the top?


Other than that one place the chair seems in good condition. How tight are the other joints?


George
 

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You could without taking the rocker apart put a straight edge on the back and use a router to remove the broken wood. Then cut a piece to fit in there and glue it in. Try to use white oak if possible for the repair.

The condition of the chair warrants refinishing it. That would solve the color problem trying to stain it back. If not I believe there is no stain. It just has a clear finish. You may though have to use a very light fruitwood stain and perhaps some orange shellac to match the color.

You might also put some cross bracing across the underside of the seat. It appears the glue joints are in the beginning stages of failing and the bracing would prevent someone from falling through.

The chair is factory made. The mortise in the rail was done with a spline cutter on either a shaper or router. This is the reason for the curve. The groove is much larger than the tongue on the back to make certain there is no problem with it fitting. It costs a lot of money if they cut a stack of parts for hundreds of chairs and then find out the tongue is slightly too big. There needs to be a little slack there anyway to allow for wood movement. If the back swells in width and the parts are cut very snug it could push the chair apart.
 

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if you are planning on keeping the chair original
as possible, use extreme care in removing the screws
and put them back after the repair is made.
it is very easy to ruin the slot with an ill fitting screwdriver,
so take your time and use the correct tools.
good luck in your project !!

Edit: "The condition of the chair warrants refinishing it."
oh I totally disagree . . . . when you see the antique shows on TV
it often discusses how you can reduce the value of the item by 75%
or more by "refinishing" it. . . . I vote for keeping it "as is" - for ever.
[jus my Dos Centavos].
 

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looking closely at the joint, it appears there is a piece
of wood missing - it would be nice if you could fine that !!
I will go along with George - not enough glue and it has
just separated along with the splinter broken off.
carefully dig out the old glue and all loose wood.
laying the piece down, make a dam to close the joints
with masking tape, modeling clay, or whatever it takes
to make it liquid tight. and pour in 30 minute epoxy in
increments as not to work with too much liquid at once.
if you can't find the missing piece, there are epoxy putties
that will work for that part and use the colored pens to match
the grain if you want to go that route.
 

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where's my table saw?
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The trick to this repair is ...

There are 4 screws holding the top of the back on. If you can, remove them and then slip the top out of it's slots. Now you can examine the broken area and see if making a replacement part would be best. There is a possibility of just cleaning up that area, making a new mortise and just lowering the back in the slots. There's a few different ways to make it functional and still keep the original look. The back piece needs to come off regardless ......
 
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