wobbly chair refinishing

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Forum topic by Mark Shultz posted 11-12-2013 07:21 PM 696 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark Shultz

103 posts in 2356 days

11-12-2013 07:21 PM

I have a dozen old dining room chairs in need of refinishing. i could live with the current aesthetics, but they are a bit wobbly. Does anyone have experience with the glue/needle in the joint method of repair? worth the effort? these are antique chairs which i don’t want to mess up, but i also don’t want to pay to send them out to a pro refinisher.

3 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile


2860 posts in 2480 days

#1 posted 11-12-2013 07:26 PM

Having refinished for twelve years, here’s what I would recommend.

If you are going to refinish them, then you need to make repairs before you refinish. You really should knock apart the chairs and re-glue joints and insert wedges into circular legs and let the wedges expand the legs in the holes. After complete regluing where necessary, then refinish them.

You’ll find that most of your regluing work disappears, (any imperfections you might have caused during reglue), and you will have fine chairs that will last for years. I would also use a good waterproof glue, like Titebond III or something similar.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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Mark Shultz

103 posts in 2356 days

#2 posted 11-12-2013 07:32 PM

thanks tennessee (i’m from knoxville originally). It will be a few years before i fully refinish the chairs – waiting until after my kids stop destroying everything. hence my specific question is the needle/glue method worth doing?

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2816 days

#3 posted 11-12-2013 10:29 PM

So I’m gathering, Mark, that you mean “repair” when you say “refinish.” Correct”

I’ve done a few of these. If some joints are loose, then it will be fairly easy to undo all the joints and reglue the entirety as Paul suggests.

It is important to mark which spindle goes in which mortise. It will be much happier going back together the way it was.

Any glue residue present will not adhere with the Titebond family of glues, in my experience. I use epoxy as well as polyurethane glue, and in any case I scrape/drill out all the hardened glue I can. Epoxy will fill voids and provide full adhesion. Polyurethane glue will be adequate. I tape the joint lines so squeeze out is easier to deal with.

Amateurs find all kinds of clever ways to put metal into these chairs when they’re attempting a repair. The only result of that woeful behavior is to frustrate us. Be vigilant!

A spreader clamp will be a good investment for this endeavor. And a couple (at least) of the” Pony 1 band clamps.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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