How to fix this chair leg?

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Forum topic by Elizabeth posted 02-11-2012 05:30 PM 7858 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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817 posts in 3341 days

02-11-2012 05:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question repair chair leg

I have a busted chair leg:

What’s the best way to re-seat the…I don’t even know what that threaded piece is called. Should I try to take it out, fix the cracks, then screw/glue it back in place? Or should I try to screw it back in now and then reinforce the whole piece?

17 replies so far

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3341 days

#1 posted 02-11-2012 05:44 PM

Yeah, there’s no slot in this one, and it’s completely threaded so I don’t think an allen will do it either (though I can’t see the bottom, will check it with a flashlight. What if I cut a slot at the top with a dremel tool, would that work or would it risk messing up the inner threads?

View MrRon's profile


5190 posts in 3441 days

#2 posted 02-11-2012 05:49 PM

That metal piece is called a thread insert. It has a coarse external thread to cut threads into the wood, while the internal thread of the insert has a machine thread, usually 1/4”-20 threads per inch. That break is pretty bad, but depending on your skill and tools available, I would saw down on the diagonal from left to right as shown in the 2nd picture and deep enough to remove all broken wood, including the inserts. After making sure the remaining wood is sound and smooth, cut a piece of the same type wood and fit it as a patch, using an epoxy. Clamp and leave for at least 24 hours. After the epoxy has cured, smooth out the new wood to match the existing leg, refinish, drill new holes for inserts. Drill the holes deep enough so the 1/4-20 screw doesn’t bottom out. That’s what probably caused it to crack in thefirst place. Good luck.

View JohnnyM's profile


39 posts in 2531 days

#3 posted 02-11-2012 06:08 PM

I’ll second MrRon’s advice. I’ve found that trying to get the cracked pieces to reseat and align and not look like a mess takes longer than just cutting off the cracks and gluing some new material on there. Also, being that it is on the top inside of the leg, if the color match is not exactly perfect it will not be that visible.

-- ~~ John . . . . . . . . . Against the Grain Woodworking & Design, LLC

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3341 days

#4 posted 02-11-2012 10:38 PM

Thanks guys. I’ve fashioned a driving tool and got the first insert out…second one doesn’t want to budge yet, though. And have to figure out what the best matching wood will be.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3196 days

#5 posted 02-11-2012 11:24 PM

I would go with a thickened epoxy if you are going to keep the original wood. Something with a glass microfiber reinforcement maybe. Do not tighten clamps much when using epoxy. It will not be as strong, Looks like the wood is all there and should make for a low visibility repair.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View bobsmyuncle's profile


110 posts in 2889 days

#6 posted 02-12-2012 12:21 AM

I’ve repaired a bunch of these. Remove the threaded insert, glue the leg back together, and drive the insert deeper into the unbroken part of the wood. Let it sit for 24 hours before using. Almost always the hole is deep enough and the bolt is long enough. If not, you know how to fix these. On bigger pieces like chair legs, I’ve driven a screw between the inserts to keep it together. This one is a little too small for that.

View canadianchips's profile


2613 posts in 3195 days

#7 posted 02-12-2012 12:25 AM

Remove the inserts usint the bolt and nut method. I use just a plain white carpenters glue, use a tool to spread the cracked material apart a little (careful not to break it further) then pour the glue into the cracks, use a tooth pick to shove it in further if you need too, remove your pry tool, and clamp it over night.You might have to re drill pilot holes before you insert the inserts ! GOOD LUCK.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3167 days

#8 posted 02-12-2012 02:42 AM

If you have a shop vac, you can suck white PVA glue down the whole length of the crack.
Take out the inserts, squirt a good bit of glue into the cracks – as far as it will go, put your shop vac at the bottom of the crack and let the vacuum draw it through before cramping.

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3489 days

#9 posted 02-12-2012 02:59 AM

I’d go a little farther with the repair. Remove the inserts and glue everything back together, per others’ suggestions, then drill out the insert holes, kind of deep – beyond the break that goes perpendicular to the axis of the inserts – and somewhat oversized. Glue dowels into these holes, trim flush, then drill and reinstall the inserts. The dowels will help transfer forces across the repair.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2873 days

#10 posted 02-12-2012 03:24 AM

Elizabeth, the slots in the threaded insert are not for a screw driver as most of us have always believed. I remember seeing a thread on LJ about 6 months or so ago and there is a tool that fits this and it is used only for installing the inserts. I don[‘t remember who the author was or what it was called but it was most interesting. I think you already have more advice on the repair than you can use so i will let you decide what to do about that.

View MrRon's profile


5190 posts in 3441 days

#11 posted 02-12-2012 08:37 PM

Elizabeth, You won’t be able to get the bottom insert out with the screw and two nuts method because when you try to turn the insert out (counterwise), the two nuts will loosen. Removing the wood as I suggested, will get rid of the insert. The insert can also be removed by using a screw extractor. It is a tapered, square cross section tool that you drive into the end and twist it out with a wrench.

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3341 days

#12 posted 02-12-2012 08:47 PM

Hah, I was just coming back to report that the screw/nuts method wasn’t helping with the second insert. Thanks Ron, I’ll try one of those methods. Will a screw extractor ruin the insert for reuse?

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2873 days

#13 posted 02-12-2012 11:46 PM

You might clean the threads up with a tap. I think it will be pretty rough then. Inserts are available to buy for not a lot of money. Check Rocklers or McFeely’s or one of those places.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2685 days

#14 posted 02-13-2012 12:04 AM

Ah, Jeez… ya’ll make it sound too tuff!
That’s nuthin’ a little baling wire, a bungy cord and some duct tape won’t fix, although you might need a couple of 20 penny nails to bend over after you drive them through, just to tighten it up ya know!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3341 days

#15 posted 02-13-2012 12:05 AM

Dallas, I must admit I am tempted to glue the cracks best as I can, drive some long wood screws through the whole thing, epoxy the one insert back into place and call it good!

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