Sunday, November 9, 2014

chair repair

(This post was written on Friday, but couldn't be posted because of problems with my internet service.... better late than never, right?)

So... about six months ago one of my favorite ladder back chairs broke. These are the chairs my daughter E gave me and we use in our dining room, and I knew I wanted to try and fix it... rather than replace it. But I wasn't sure what the best way was to do that... so I put the chair in our storage room and waited for the chair repair elves to come work their magic.

You can see the broken part here...

See the ragged end of the top spindle on the right hand side? The end of it had broken off and was still pegged inside the leg.

Complicating the repair was the new rush seat I'd put on the chair just a year ago or so. I really didn't want to have to cut that seat off and redo it...

Unfortunately, the chair repair elves seem to be otherwise occupied, because... six months later... the broken chair was still sitting in my storage room.... and I had to figure out how to fix it myself.

My first thought was to just run a couple of screws in at an angle to hold the broken spindle in place.... not a great fix (my siblings will recognize this as the "Johnston Method" of repairing broken furniture) and not even possible unless I could pull the dowel back into alignment... which I couldn't because the tension of the rush seat was pulling it towards the middle of the chair and the broken ends no longer lined up.

So after trying every method I could think of, and even asking my carpenter neighbor for any tips to get the dowel back into alignment, I decided to take the chair apart... just a little... to see if that would give me enough flexibility in the rush to get things lined up again.  I also decided to not dust off the "Johnston Method" of furniture repair, but to fix the break the right way and drill out the broken pieces and reconnect them with a oak dowel.

I drilled out the broken seat spindle and dug the broken end out of the hole it was stuck in, drilled it out, inserted the oak dowel and glued and clamped them together again. But once the repair was made the rush wouldn't give me enough flexibility to even just put the leg I'd removed back on.


This is probably how the "Johnston Method" got started... getting a nail and hammering the chair together was looking like a really good alternative at that point!

But instead, I grabbed the cutters and, before I could change my mind, cut the new rush seat off.

It just about killed me.

But now I had a newly repaired chair that could be put back together and just needed a new rush seat... (rather than being stuck with pieces of a chair that couldn't be reassembled, but had a really nice rush seat).

Here's the newly repaired top seat spindle, with the oak dowel holding things together showing as the light circle in the middle.

As long as the chair was apart, I took another leg off so I could glue the loose joints on that side....

It was looking kind of scary at that point...

But, finally, I was able to put the chair back together, and firmly wrapped it up to hold all the joints tight until the glue dried.

The repair is completely hidden, and the chair should be good as new when it's done...

I started weaving the new seat as soon as the glue was good and dry, and I only have a little bit left to do.

I am so ready for the end of this project... I learned something new (how to drill and peg something together) but it was definitely not an easy fix. I'm soooooo glad it's almost done!

1 comment:

Renee Nefe said...

It looks great! A bummer that you had to re rush the seat, but once it's finished I'm sure you'll be glad that you did.