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Fixing the Broken Chair

Twine knot

I’m finally getting around to some of the many projects I’ve inherited.  One of which is fixing these ornately carved chairs.  They were originally made in Indonesia, but their problems started when they were shipped to the beautiful but extremely dry State of Utah.

Two French Chairs

Wood from humid climates has to be properly cured to withstand the shock of 0% humidity.  If not, it can easily dry out causing it to warp and crack.  These chairs, in their weakened state couldn’t withstand much weight and broke along the back tongue joint attaching the seat portion to the back legs.  Not a very flattering experience for the one sitting on them at the time.

So far I’ve been working on the chair on the left.

The first step toward making it usable again was to clean out the old tongue joints then fill them with tons of wood glue and somehow clamp the joint together.  This is where I had to get a little creative.

Tied up chairIt didn’t really work with my schedule to hold the thing together for the next several hours.  I mean, I do have five kids who think they need me all the time. There are probably some great clamps out there made just for situations like this, but I was already covered in glue and couldn’t exactly run to the store. So in a moment of what I’d like to consider brilliance, I started tying the whole thing up with twine.

After what resembled a segment from I Love Lucy, with me trying to hold the chair together, while wrapping it in twine and trying to tie multiple knots, all while keeping it tight and secure, it finally worked. I had the chair secure, if not held hostage.

Twine knot

It probably would have been easier with another set of hands but that’s not usually how I do things.  “I do it!” was an oft yelled phrase in our house when TS (Total Sweetness) was a toddler.  Huhhh?  Wonder where he got that characteristic?

After letting the glue dry completely and leaving the chair to fend for itself in the garage for a few more weeks, I finally brought it into the house to finish securing the joints.

First I pre-drilled and added better screws to the original corner supports.

corner braces

Next came the fun new tool of the night: a Forstner bit.

Forstner drill tipIt creates a flat-bottomed hole in wood perfect for recessing a screw.  In this case  I used it to drill about half way through the back of the leg directly opposite the joint with the seat.

Chair forstner bit holes

Then I drilled another pilot hole in the center of the circle through which I drove a 2″ screw into the seat joint.  Two of these on each side will hopefully prevent the seat from ever coming apart again.  Now I just need to add a plug to each hole and no one will ever see the ugly, but structurally important screws.

Finally to add just a little more structural support I added some L brackets to the underside of the formerly broken joint. They came in a package of four for under three dollars.  Perfect for doing both chairs.

L bracket on chair

The only thing left to do was decide what to do with the seat.  The original fabric is far too ornate for my taste.  Better suited for a queen’s palace.

Chair original fabric

Feeling the same way, Robear covered the chair in a floral fabric soon after purchasing it.  Pretty but too floral for me.

chair floral fabricI was looking for more of a fresh clean look, and there’s nothing quite like white to achieve that.

Here is Pottery Barn’s dark wood chair the “Queen Anne” that inspired my choice for a white seat.


And here is my chair completed with a white seat.

The Final Product:  All put back together and sturdy enough to sit on

Fixed and recovered

It’s terribly impractical for my child-filled home to have a white seat, but it only took five minutes to cover so I figure I can redo it again when it gets soiled.  (Soiled seems like the proper word for such a proper chair.)

We’ll see how long it lasts this time.


I’m linking to:

Sugar Bee Craft Edition , The Gypsy’s Corner , All Things Related , Today’s Creative BlogNifty Thrifty Tuesday @ Coastal Charm , House of Grace: Twice Owned Tuesday , Blue Cricket Design , Creations by Kara , We are THAT Family , Someday Crafts , My Backyard EdenPrimitive & Proper , The Shabby Chic Cottage , Somewhat Simple , Fireflies and Jellybeans , Tales from Bloggeritaville , House of Hepworths “HoH” , Beyond the Picket Fence , Life as Lori , Brambleberry Cottage , Just a Girl , The Shabby Nest , My Romantic Home , Remodelaholic , Finding Fabulous , Tidy Mom , Mustard Seed Creations , Color Outside the Lines , French Country Cottage , Chic on a Shoestring Decorating , A Little Knick Knack , Blue Cricket Design , Fingerprints on the Fridge , Home is Where My Story Begins , Blessings Overflowing , Be Different…Act Normal , Tatertots and Jello , Funky Junk Interiors , Saturday Soiree at A Little Lovely, Bubbly Nature Creations ,