Rocking Chair repairs

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Forum topic by EagleTRL57 posted 04-25-2011 04:43 PM 2411 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 2646 days

04-25-2011 04:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: rocking chair repair cracked seat

I have a family antique oak rocking chair that has two problems.

1) The screw holding one of the arms to the back stripped out. I have fixed similar problems on other furniture by gluing some wood strips / matchsticks into the hole and then putting the screw back in. Does anyone have any better methods for this type of repair?

2) The second is a little more challenging. The seat has cracked along the line where the back spindles connect in. It hasn’t broken all the way through in any spot (yet). The seat has woven cane that is about an inch in front of the spindles. I don’t think just gluing will work. Due to the age, I also don’t think replacing the seat is an option. Do any of my fellow LumberJocks have any hints on how to repair it?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

5 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3673 days

#1 posted 04-25-2011 05:16 PM

1) The screw is probably going into end grain, which is an inherently
problematic screw joint. Drilling it out with a 1/2” bit and gluing
a cross-grain plug in there is a very good solution. The cross
grain plug (a dowel you make yourself by carving it or using a
special plug cutter) will hold the screw much, much better.

2) If the cane is breaking, you’ll have to replace the caning. If
one part is brittle and falling apart, the rest will follow so it is better
to bite the bullet and do it over. If it’s the wood that’s cracking,
that’s harder to diagnose from just a description as written. A
picture would help.

View EagleTRL57's profile


9 posts in 2646 days

#2 posted 04-25-2011 09:55 PM

Here are pictures of the chair – you can see the cracks from the outermost spindle to the center.

I was mistaken about the caning – it is a tacked cushion. The seat is a frame with an inset piece of plywood and the cushion tacked on top of it.

Hope this helps.


View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3067 days

#3 posted 04-25-2011 09:56 PM

You might try a butterfly or a spline to give the crack some support and to help it keep from cracking further.
But a pic would help in giving a better answer.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2882 days

#4 posted 04-25-2011 10:00 PM

I would open the spits apart then you can glue the whole piece back on

It sounds drastic but it is the strongest way

I’m with loren on the cross grain dowel


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3673 days

#5 posted 04-25-2011 11:00 PM

If the crack goes all the way through it may be something to
worry about. If it does go all the way through, the best way
to glue it is to spread or even break it all the way open, glue
and clamp.

If that makes you nervous, or you’re reluctant to mess with the
seat tacks, check underneath. You may be able to get a screw
into the seat to strengthen it there or even clamp it closed. Use
a standard wood screw that isn’t threaded all the way, and
counterbore for the shank. This way the teeth are all on the
far side of the crack and the side closest to the screw head has
no teeth engaged in the wood. Then it pulls it together and
acts like a steel dowel. Very strong that way, but you have to
bore the holes right. A stainless steel wood screw would be strongest
of all.

You could use a mending plate underneath as an alternative
but I’d expect the mending plate repair to fail sooner than
the counterbored wood screw, which might last the lifetime
of the chair.

A wood Miller Dowel could be put in from the outside. You can
get them in cherry,oak, maple. The Miller Dowels are a cool
invention and worth looking into.

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