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Restore that heirloom!
This is divided in the following Chapters and you may skip to those
Chapters by clicking them, or read the text from the start to finish.
The first thing to remember when you are working on chairs is the
ORDER in which to work, as without this one can go round and round
on a chair without ever doing al the work.
There are three main types of constructions in chairs namely;
Each Construction requires a complete different approach so we will
handle them each separately.
Mortise and Tenon
Most mortise and tenon constructions are easy to reglue and, when using
the method described below, should be as strong or stronger than original.
Mortise and Tenon showing diagonally drilled hole (Glue-Channel)
Where is the Tenon?
Sometimes it is hard to find out where the tenons are, but there are
some tell tale signs which are easy to follow.
I mix enough epoxy to do all, or up to 12 chairs and if they
are differing in color then I make the color matching the lightest and glue
them first then change the color of the glue accordingly to the next lot.
T-88 Structural Epoxyis a gap filling glue and doesn't need the same pressure
that older type glues need and is therefore very good for old constructions
whom don't fit properly anymore.
Balloon Back Chair Top Rails
The weakest area on a balloon back chair is without doubt the toprail.
Where it joints the styles the wood grain runs virtually across the timber.
The method I use for this is as follows;
Left shows the original construction,
Right shows the improved construction,
Loose Dowel constructions can only be fixed by regluing the dowels.
If the dowels are loose and the construction can be opened up then of
course the easiest way is to remove the loose dowels scrape them clean
(remove all glue and dirt) or replace them with new ones.
The holes also should be cleaned to reveal fresh timber, either by
redrilling with a slightly over sized drill or, using a small chisel,
grooving the sides.
If some of the dowels are broken the following procedure should be adopted to prevent many problems later on.
A hole measuring 1/2 to 3/4 of the dowel's diameter is drilled in the center of the broken dowel trough its full length.
With a narrow chisel, say 2 to 3 mm. or 3/32" to 1/8" the side of the dowel is now carefully removed to the edge.
The best way to do this is;
Make a narrow channel in the dowel al the way to the bottom and remove the debris with longnose pliers.The other piece can then easily be broken into separated fragments from the glue joint, breaking away in full length pieces which are easily removed with longnose pliers.
Thus removing the old dowel without damaging the hole.
The hole can now be cleaned by redrilling the hole with the right size drill and the bond to the new dowel improved by making grooves in the side of the hole, thus not only exposing new timber but actually increasing the circumference of the hole.
This method is much preferred over drilling a full sized hole.
The difference in hardness of the timber of the dowel and the housing and the difference in grain direction, invariably make the drill travel of its intended path during the boring process.
This augmented with the inaccuracy of the opposite hole will misalign the joint severely during gluing. Leading to stresses and twisted rails as well as uneven surfaces, requiring planing, sanding, staining and polishing, always leaving an untidy joint.
Al this will have been avoided as the earlier approach is used.
Dowel constructions which cannot easily be separated, due to cross nailing
or because of upholstery are simply redrilled and redowelled from
underneath using the skew doweling method;
The holes are drilled approx. 0.5mm or 1/32" larger than the dowel to be
used as this will allow the excess glue to escape therewith ensuring proper
gluing of the dowel, this is the advantage of gluing with
T-88 Structural Epoxy, it
is stronger when the joints are not to tight.
The Drill Guide
A drill-guide is made, by drilling two parallel holes in a piece of
timber, which is then cut to size to form the angle of 300 for the guide
holes, and to length to make sure that the holes are drilled to the
Drill Guide 2
If guides are required for drilling a center dowel than those should be
made after the outer dowels are glued and finished.
Turned constructions such as in Windsor chairs and the invisible repairs of broken
spindles included the invisible adding of new tenons to the original round stretcher,
leg or spindle, while retaining full strength, will be handled here.
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