Woodworking Talk banner
1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Property mgmt
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need to repair the back end of a rocker on an old rocking chair. Fortunately it’s far enough back that it doesn’t get any weight. The piece is missing, i will make a new piece from poplar or similar. I plan to glue it together and run a screw up from below for reinforcement. It’s a barn find, no sentimental value. Looks like it had been badly repaired before.
Wood Floor Flooring Automotive exterior Bumper
Brown Furniture Wood Chair Shelf
Joint Glasses Furniture Cabinetry Smile


Question … what glue is best? I'm thinking slow set epoxy but would like some advice.
 

·
Registered
Property mgmt
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I see your red circle … there are several cracks in the frame that need attention. So you think regular epoxy is a good choice? Works for me.
 

·
Super Moderator
Retired Craftsman
Joined
·
5,058 Posts
when making the repair on the rocker part, clamp it firmly to a table so it can't move so you can match all the measurements from the unbroken part to the repaired part. Epoxy is fairly "flexible" until it fully cures in a few days, depending on the temperature. so don't rush it back into service.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AJ.

·
Super Moderator
Retired Craftsman
Joined
·
5,058 Posts
Fortunately it’s far enough back that it doesn’t get any weight.
yeah, right - you ever see a bunch of rambunctious younguns having fun in a rocking chair ???
(you need to re-think that part of the equation).

[see - I told you this was a good place to hang out].
 

·
The Nut in the Cellar
Joined
·
1,296 Posts
I had an almost identical rocker break several decades ago that extended into the rear leg mortise. I glued the broken piece back on with epoxy. After the epoxy had completely cured, I reinforced the break by installing dowels across the break from the underside, but not completely through the rocker. Thus the dowels are only visible from the bottom of the rocker. I also had to replace one of back spindles that had been broken. All of the joints had loosened over the years and I bled wiping varnish into them with an very small artist brush util they were full. After that the rocking chair was completely refinished. Twenty years later the chair is rock solid and used in our living room.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
That looks like an original joint of 2 different pieces to make the rocker initially. If it was mine, I'd get rid of the nails in it, square up the joint and make a new piece. I'd reinforce the joint with a couple of biscuits and use some Titebond glue to join them together. Before retiring, I did commercial repairs for a couple of refinishing shops and repair a few rockers with similar damage and that's how I repaired them. It turned out to be the best method IMO and never had any come back.
Good luck.
 

·
where's my table saw?
Joined
·
30,373 Posts
I wouldn't square off the end and shorten it as shown on the threaded bolt epoxy method. I'd leave as much long grain for gluing surface and make the joint parallel to what's there now. A spline may be beneficial. Blind dowels may also work, but a clean, square glue joint will be as strong as the surrounding wood. Do NOT use Poplar, it's the wrong wood. It looks like Oak is the original wood.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,570 Posts
I agree with @woodnthings on every point. Any kind of additional support/reassurance like nails, screws, dowels, etc would create a stress/weak point. Just a good solid fitting of the 2 pieces with as much long grain contact as possible and Titebond or any good wood glue should do it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AJ.

·
Registered
Property mgmt
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Started deconstructing the chair, removing the old upholstrery and padding first. I think the visible wood is walnut, hidden pieces are pine.
Brown Chair Wood Flooring Plant
Furniture Product Wood Chair Tints and shades
 

·
Registered
Property mgmt
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Arm rests are pine with some surprising rough surfaces, looks like they were covered in straw wrapped in linen, then cotton and the upholstery.

I’m not seeing any old tack holes, so i think this is the original upholstery.

Vertebrate Wood Textile Table Linens
Wood Wood stain Flooring Hardwood Nail
Wood Table Natural material Wood stain Hardwood
 

·
Registered
Retired engineer
Joined
·
65 Posts
Is there any advantage to not making a new rocker? I mean, you are already going to a lot of effort. You will spend less time making a new rocker now than messing with dubious joinery in a spot that keeps someone from flying over backwards and suing you later. I raised kids; I know what they can do to a rocking chair.
You also have problems where the rocker connects to the leg. These attachments are usually done with screws. They always fail because of the stress on the joint and the screw is going into end grain which quickly shreds. My fix is to put a cross dowel into the leg. Drill across the grain for as large a dowel as you can use, maybe 5/8 inch for this chair, from the inside (parallel to the back stretcher), going not quite through to the outer surface. Drill your hole well above that crack you circled. Glue in a good maple or birch dowel and stain it to match the chair as best you can. People never really see this repair, so you don't have to be great at color matching. Then when you screw on the rocker the screw is going into cross grain. Use a #12 screw, long enough to go completely through the dowel.
 

·
Registered
Property mgmt
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Is there any advantage to not making a new rocker?
Blasphemy! How dare you sir!
Because i like a challenge? Because i have never done it before?

I have been watching some utube videos, found one guy who really does a nice job using traditional methods. Other than using a staple gun sometimes, his methods are definitely old school. His videos are not intended to be shortcuts or tricks, they are the real thing.

I learned that what i thought was straw padding is actually wood wood. Similar to excelsior.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
422 Posts
I'm an upholsterer. I get my excelsior from American Excelsior - American Excelsior | Arlington, TX

Lots of kinds of shredded wood..... From erosion control, to furniture padding-like support, to the colorful small shredded decor you see in your Easter baskets. If you decide to replace the excelsior, it takes some practice to mold the form to fit properly the contour of its application. Often times, rather than replacing the excelsior, foam and/or cotton is used in its place.

Old excelsior, horse hair, *reed/grass, *moss is often decaying and dirty. It's often preferred to replace the old stuff if you can't get it cleaned.
*Long ago in east coast areas, beach/marsh grass/reed was used as that sort of padding; In the south, Spanish moss was sometimes used. You never know what you'll find inside old furniture.

I see you excelsior is covered with burlap. I suppose you have limited, if any, upholstering experience. When all your new padding is reapplied and you're ready to apply your fabric, I would recommend you cover everything with a cheap muslin type fabric before applying your main fabric. Some muslin costs only $1 a yard. Sometimes fabrics don't flow over your paddings very smoothly... it kinna binds here and there. By applying the muslin first, allows your main fabric to lay and flow, better, as you apply it. Applying muslin also allows you to see how your main fabric will fit onto your chair. Cutting the muslin to fit will be practice for cutting and fitting your main fabric. You want to make your mistake cuts on the muslin, not on your main fabric. Use cheap muslin as a "practice application run" for applying your main fabric.

Sonny
 

·
Registered
Property mgmt
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the comments Sonny. My BIL had a very successful upholstety shop, until he had a brain aneyuresm and died 20-25 yrs ago. He would buy old estates, fix the old furniture and resell it. Also did high quality old furniture work. I have completely stripped the chair of all non-wood items, including the coil springs. The springs were 2 different sizes, and very weak. Currently cleaning and patching, need to get a scrap of wood to rebuild the rocker. Looks like the wood is mahogany.

My thought is to install new springs, a layer of burlap, a layer of “padding” , another layer burlap, then the show fabric. I don’t think i want foam padding, so i’m looking at cotton batting or excelsior. How thick should the cotton or excelsior be?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
422 Posts
I'd like to see a pic of the bottom of the chair, see how/where the springs were supported. You might look for some sort of markings on the chair, on the inside back seat rail, see if you can identify the maker, in some way.

When I first saw your chair, it reminded me of - what I've known as - the Arceneaux chair, ca. late 1700s -early 1800s, I don't recall exactly. There's an Arceneaux chair in the Smithsonian.
Below pic is the style chair I've always known as the Arceneaux chair. Original chairs would have caned seat and backrests. A wire-type turn buckle would be present each side, helping secure each armrest against the seat frame. The turn buckle ends attach at each armrest and onto each corresponding rocker (passes through the seat frame). This pictured chair doesn't have the turn buckles. There are different variations of this basic design/style over the many years. There is - if he hasn't passed away - a 7th generation Arceneaux here in Lafayette. I've visited with him several times. He had the original full scale templates for building the original chairs, which included a child's chair version. He had no children and he gave me those templates. I still have them.

Sonny
Furniture Property Chair Rectangle Wood
 

·
Registered
Property mgmt
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wow. That 1890 antique chair is a perfect match. Here are a couple of pictures. Other than the words on the burlap bag, there are no markings at all.
Wood Gas Electrical wiring Composite material Metal


Artifact Wood Wall Font Art


Boat Watercraft Boats and boating--Equipment and supplies Motor vehicle Wood


Table Wood Rectangle Natural material Bumper
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
422 Posts
I'll look at the pics more closely later.... and comment later. In the meantime, since you have the chair taken apart, make a full size template of the chair parts and take measurements of other parts. Some day you may want to make another chair or have one made. .... Large card board full size templates and write on the card board any notes of interests, etc.

Take lots of pictures. Sometimes details are important and a picture comes in handy. Some of those boards look to be hand hewn or hand-tool worked.

Sonny
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
422 Posts
Replacement seat coil springs - you might want to install 5 springs. Your old springs could have been spaced a little further apart. Place the additional 5th spring in the center of your seat. You want 9 gauge wire springs, 9" tall for the seat. You want to use the 8-point tying method for tying your springs. About $6 per spring is an average price (maybe plus shipping).

You need jute webbing to support your springs. If you don't have a webbing stretcher tool, stretch the jute webbings as tight as you can by hand across the spans. You unlikely have a Klinch-it fastener, so tie, in 4 places, the bottom of the springs to the jute webbing with a good strong twine (nylon string).

Install burlap over the springs. You want good thick padding on the seat.... you don't want to feel the springs when you sit in the chair. Once springs are tied, place unsecured padding on top and do several test sittings to see how it feels. Consider the padding will settle/compress in time, so do several test sittings. Once you're comfortable with the padding, then secure it to the frame. You can get a good idea of how thick of padding is needed by what padding was originally on it.

When upholstering - You should have a good idea where your fabric is to be attached... where onto the woodwork. You DO NOT want any padding (or as little padding as possible) in the area where your fabric is to be attached. So try to keep the padding attachments away from where your fabric will be attached. Or you would prefer for no padding to be along the line of where your fabric is to be attached. Your padding will be right up against where your fabric is to be attached, but try to maintain a small (1/4") space for just your fabric attachment only. This may apply for the backrest padding and fabric application only. It appears the seat fabric will simply wrap around the bottom of the seat frame, so the padding consideration would not be applicable.

As to edges of fabric, trimming the edges - you can make cording/piping OR you can buy gimp trim. I can't tell, seems you may have had gimp trim on the chair previously.

The link to that 1890 chair states it was made in Belgium. Measure your chair's dowels diameter, see if they are metric measure. Replacement USA dowels may need to be sanded to size.

Sonny
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top