split wood repair on a chair

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Forum topic by cowteets posted 11-21-2016 02:44 PM 1604 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 723 days

11-21-2016 02:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: furniture repair re-enforce modern

Hey guys I’ve got these beautiful mid century modern chairs
Well the wood on one of the legs is splitting from the rest of the chair where it joins

Whats the best way to re-enforce this without promoting additional splitting and keep it as out-of-site as possible?
Was thinking an L bracket on the inside and some wood screws through the bottom?
or a straight metal bracket over the split and then an L bracket under the seat frame?

See images of the split


11 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


4004 posts in 1938 days

#1 posted 11-21-2016 03:09 PM

You may want to try and turn it on its side and use a sharp and wide instrument to open the gap. Pour some glue over it and use a vacuum to make sure it penetrates to the other side before clamping it.


View Aj2's profile (online now)


1783 posts in 1968 days

#2 posted 11-21-2016 03:27 PM

First thing I would do is to see if I can clamp the crack till it was not visible.The add a screw or two from under side with the clamps in place.Paste wax the finished side.Open crack inject glue.Clamp,screw clean glue squeeze out and put back in living room.
Hope fully the paste wax will help clean squeeze out and keep that nice finish.
Make pot of coffee get back to lumber jock to read woodworking threads.But that’s just me.:)


-- Aj

View Ted78's profile


401 posts in 2170 days

#3 posted 11-21-2016 03:49 PM

IF you can clamp the crack to the point where it is not visible I’d simply inject some glue and clamp it. It looks like the shape might make it awfully difficult to clamp effectively though. If the gluing and clamping doesn’t work, and the chair is still structurally sound, I’d consider leaving it and disguising the crack coloring the wood to match the rest of the finish. I’d go to the glue and screws from the underside as a last resort. If it can be clamped together the screws aren’t really necessary, and if it can’t be clamped together effectively, or it is not structurally sound with the crack then I think Aj2’s idea is probably your best bet.

-- Ted

View cowteets's profile


4 posts in 723 days

#4 posted 11-21-2016 07:58 PM

great feedback guys—i’m w/ you on drilling into the wood as a last resort—worst case, doing screws on the bottom.

if i could get the clamp right, you guys think glue would suffice? sitting in the chair the legs are stable enough, its only with movement from side to side that it puts stress on that split..

what kind of screws would work best, if I ultimately end up screwing some in through the bottom? self-tapping wood screws?

appreciate these insights

View SignWave's profile


451 posts in 3206 days

#5 posted 11-22-2016 03:08 PM

If you can get some wood glue in there with adequate coverage, you shouldn’t need mechanical fasteners. I would make some shaped blocks to help clamping and use a combination of straps and bar clamps as needed. I agree with the advice to work on the clamping first to make sure you can get the crack fully closed before working on getting the glue in there.

Having said that, there’s something odd about that crack. The stress on the wood at that point seems to be in compression as far as the leg is concerned, which shouldn’t cause a crack like that. I am guessing that there is a mortise and tenon joint from the horizontal seat rail on the back of the chair. It’s possible that that joint is contributing to the crack, and that it’s also going to make it hard to get the crack to fully close because the crack is really part of the M/T joint.

Flip the chair over and see if you can get a better idea of what’s going on at that joint before you do anything. It’s possible that you may need to separate that M/T joint to get the crack to close fully. Could also be dowels, but based on the joints already there, I’d be a little surprised. Depending on the overall design of the chair, this may or may not be a simple fix. The reason that I’d want to understand the context better is that once you put glue in there, you’re limiting your options. Better to do a comprehensive fix than to do it part-way and have to re-do it later.

-- Barry,

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2947 days

#6 posted 11-22-2016 03:53 PM

Agree with Barry -

Something is going on to break the back leg like that. Looks like a twist from the back rail on the back. I’l bet you have the same thing on the other side – or soon will. Fix the cause and glue the crack.

A bracket in the back will just weaken things more because the cause has not been resolved. Will take someone sitting in the chair and moving around to see what is opening the crack, that will give you the answer.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View nakmuay's profile


82 posts in 1524 days

#7 posted 11-22-2016 04:19 PM

I might be talking complete crap so take my advice with a pinch of salt….
If it was me I think that instead of trying to hide the repair I’d make a feature. I’m not an expert by a long shot, but I think I would try to glue the joint, then put a maple dovetail key to reinforce.
Just a thought

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

347 posts in 2632 days

#8 posted 11-22-2016 05:51 PM

Since its the back, you could chisels out a slot/ mortise across the crack and put a hard wood plug in with some wood epoxy, since its on the back of the leg you would never see it. That would give that crack a perpendicular long grain glue surface to offer stability. I guess you could also chisel in a bowtie which would be a challenge with that nice curve, but it wold offer long grain glue surface and mechanical strength like a dovetail.

You could also fit that curve against a table saw fence, clamp it carefully to open the crack ever so slightly, and pump a bunch of glue or better yet epoxy into the crack and re-clamp and clean the squeeze out. I think you could tint the epoxy/ glue to the color match and barely even see the line after cleanup… i’m not sure on the tinting adhesive, sounds great in my mind, but i’d check with someone who knows if that will affect the adhesive properties.

View cowteets's profile


4 posts in 723 days

#9 posted 11-22-2016 08:22 PM

wow again great feedback guys

ill have someone sit on them and explore what could be causing the leg to crack—if its weight distribution and movement, or if it is part of the chairs construction (m/t joint). it looks as if the leg is bending sideways/inwards .. as if it was slid side ways against resistance

BOTH chairs are doing this to BOTH sides of the legs.. its just this one in particular that is really bad so its likely the construction yes?
truth be told i bought them at world market for 75% off because i pointed out the flaws. I figured I could fix them in exchange for not paying $350/chair—and they’re beautiful mid century looking

im not super concerned about perfect aesthetics—its not really noticeable unless you’re looking for it.. im most interested in a long-term fix to keep them from breaking [even more]

i am a novice at woodwork so would be my first real crack (yeah i said it) at fixing this—ill see if i can identify the issue and/or clamp successfully before gluing ..

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2947 days

#10 posted 11-23-2016 12:11 PM

Thought it might be a design flaw. When you have the grain going horizontal, especially on or through a back leg, it is not going to bode well.

Remake the back legs the way they should be and have the side piece go into the back leg instead of break it in half. You will have a pair of chairs that will last a long time and ones that you have fixed.

It will give you new insights into the dynamics of chair construction.

Good luck

-- David in Damascus, MD

View cowteets's profile


4 posts in 723 days

#11 posted 11-29-2016 03:00 AM

updating you guys bc i said i would.

So after poking and prodding i found that the bottom had already been screwed and capped/puttied over
I drilled out the original wood plug, but was unable to unscrew the original philips screw due to the depth and the head being filled w/ wood glue :(
But my guess is, this original screw ends where the crack began

SO I decided to just add another screw, longer screw
I drilled a pilot hole that was big enough and deep enough for the screw head, then (using a bit that was just a tad bigger thant he screw threads)another hole through that, stopping at the split. Finally I finished the length with a bit that was as big as the shaft of the screw but would allow the threads to catch—hopefully to minimize any additional stress on the wood.. well with that third hole I hit some sort of metal and I couldnt drill any deeper.. which, it didnt look like I hit any of the side screws that the seats were on but who knows
I tried screwing the screw in and with not much effort, the damn thing snapped :(

So im just going to let it be. The leg isnt going to break unless the chair is forcefully pushed sideways and the leg catches on something
Thanks for the help guys

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