October 7, 2022

Woody Woodworking

and its tools

Broken Chair Back Repair with a Lathe, Shave Horse, and Furniture Restoration Skills

3 min read

Repairing this broken chair back is a challenge. It requires a variety of skills to get it back together again and to make it look like nothing was repaired. In this video you’ll learn how a lathe, benchtop shave horse, and furniture restoration skills are used to get this chair back into working order.

Benchtop Shave Horse Woodworking Plans https://woodenitbenice.ca/collections/woodworking-plans

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The first step is to assess the damage to the chair back to determine why it broke. I have a set of 4 chairs, so I can learn from the other chairs how they’re assembled. It turns out that this chair was repaired before. There are scarf joints attaching the broken pieces together. They weren’t done well, so some of them have broken. There are also dowels drilled into the chair back posts but unfortunately they weakened the chair back as you’ll see in the video.

To repair this chair back, the two posts need to be replaced. They have a mortise (a slot) in them so there’s more work to these than just turning them on the lathe. I start by marking and drilling out most of the material for the mortice. Then I chisel out the edges to get mortises the right width. Next, I make a temporary tenon to glue into the mortise when I turn these on the lathe to prevent any tear out that would damage the edge of the mortise.

Using the lathe, I turn the new chair back posts and duplicate the design to match the rest of the chairs. This is a dusty job but I find it rewarding to shape a square block of wood into a furniture part. After sanding, I apply a coat of black tempura paint to the whole piece, let it dry, then sand it off. This is a staining step called "setting the grain". It gets the open grain in the Red Oak very dark and will help the new parts match the old parts once the stain is applied.

The top of the chair back posts need to be finished so I used my benchtop shave horse to hold down the work while us used a spokeshave, file, and sandpaper to do the final shaping. This is a critical feature of the chair that needs to match the other chairs in the set. I then apply the black paint and set the grain to match the rest of the chair back post.

The next step is to apply the stain. I’m using a water-based stain that works well to duplicate old oak. When applied over the set grain, it looks just like the original parts. I finish off the parts with polyurethane, which matches the original chair.

To assemble the chair back, I cut slots in the tenons at the bottom of the chair back posts. These accept a wedge to hold the chair back posts in place so they don’t pull out of the chair seat. I glue up the chair back using PVA glue on the scarf joint on the slat that broke and with hide glue on the rest of the parts. Based on how these 25 year old chairs had 5 broken slats, they may break in the future, so using hide glue will allow the next repair person to disassemble the chair to replace the broken parts.

With the chair all back together, it’s time to return it to the customer. Sometimes people ask if all this work is worth it… that is an answer only the customer can answer. These are quality chairs the customer has owned for decades and they decided to repair them instead of replace them with something that may be less quality. I offer the skills, the customer decides if they want to make use of them. Thanks for watching Fixing Furniture!
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See the tools we use in our workshop and the tools we recommend: https://www.amazon.com/shop/homeimprovementwoodworking
πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Canadian link – https://www.amazon.ca/shop/homeimprovementwoodworking

This video is hosted by Scott Bennett, Owner of Wooden It Be Nice – Furniture Repair in Brooklin, Ontario, Canada. https://WoodenItBeNice.ca

#repair #restoration #furniture

Woodworking News Source: Fixing Furniture

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