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Repairing A Chair

Dec 1, 2007
Fixing a Wobbly Leg

There is nothing more irritating than sitting on a chair that wobbles continually: a common fault that is usually caused by one of the legs wearing down faster than the others do. Before you start it is worth checking that it is not the floor which is at fault, as if this is the case you may end up hopelessly cutting about 18inches of the legs of your chair. To do this, place the chair on a piece of flat board - chipboard is ideal. If it still wobbles, find out which leg is causing the problem. You can generally do this by getting on your hands and knees and having a look at the legs.

Once you have found the culprit, pack thin pieces of cardboard or scraps of paper under the short leg until the chair is steady. The thickness of the packing gives you the amount of wood you need to cut off the remaining three legs. Remove the packing and place it in turn against the other legs, making a mark where each as to be trimmed.

Remove the packing and place it in turn against the other legs making a mark where each has to be trimmed.

Saw the excess off each of the legs with a tenon saw and then smooth down with sand paper.

If your chair legs are at an angle to the seat board make sure you cut them horizontal to the floor and not at right angles to the leg. To ensure this make all around the leg with the packing.

If the chair leg is sturdy an alternative solution to the problem is the lengthen the leg by nailing a piece of packing to the end of it.

Mending A Loose Chair Leg

Do not use a chair once one of the legs has become loose. If the end of the leg moves in the joint, this can lead to further damage.

Joints normally become loose because the wood shrinks and the glue fails. Occasionally you may be able to strengthen the joint without dismantling it, by injecting glue directly into it. In most cases, however, it is better to remove the leg altogether and clean up the joint thoroughly before reassembling.

First, check how the leg is held in position. In some chairs, the leg will be mortised and tenoned into the seat rail and possibly screwed into the corner block. If this is the case, start by unscrewing the corner block. Then gently ease the mortise and tenon apart.

If you have trouble undoing the joints, check to make sure that they have not been nailed in an attempt to repair them. If they have, remove the nails taking care not to damage the wood.

If the nail heads are proud, you can pull them out with pincers. However, if they are below the surface, you will have to trim the wood with a chisel or drill a small hole to be able to reach them.

In some chairs the legs are stop jointed directly into the base of the seat board. If they are simply held in place with glue, twisting them some be sufficient to ease them out. If they offer any resistance, check they are not screwed into the seat board from the top, with the screws hidden by wooden plugs which match the chair. The leg may also be mortise and tenoned to a stretcher rail, and these joints will have to be taken apart. If your dealing with a chair with a circular stretcher rail, the legs are normally screwed to this.

Before replacing the leg, make sure you clean all the joints thoroughly. Scrape any old glue off using a knife or chisel, and check they all fit securely by reassembling them without glue. Rebuild any worn tenons.

Glue and fit the leg then screw the corner block back in place. If the leg is stop jointed into the seat board, vertically clamp it while it dries.

Once the glue has dried, replace the stretcher rail. If this is held in position by a mortise and tenon joint, clamp the two legs together until dried.
About the Author
Johan Nickson is a DIY expert.
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