The wooden furniture in your home can wear down quickly with everyday use. When you consider that the legs of a chair are typically the least sturdy part, you eventually may need to research tips on making a wooden chair leg repair. However, if you have all the chair’s components, learning how to fix a broken chair leg is a breeze.
So, if you have a broken wooden chair leg in your home, you don’t have to throw it out—we’ll show you how to fix it!
What You Need to Fix Furniture Legs
Learning how to repair a broken chair leg can be a simple task if you gather all the necessary tools and prep a workstation before you get started. Here's a quick rundown of the tools you'll need to repair broken chair legs:
- 1/2 inch paddle bit (a.k.a., wood-boring bit)
- Wood glue
- Hacksaw or backsaw
- 1/2 inch dowel wood
- Pocket knife
- Painters tape
How to Fix a Broken Chair Leg: A Step-by-Step Guide
Every type of wooden furniture can have its own set of potential structural issues. You can keep all of your wooden chairs in good shape by using common sense and paying attention to a few details. And, when you need to fix broken chair legs, follow these steps:
Step 1: Flip the Chair Over
For this project, you should use a clean workspace where you don’t need to worry about harming the floors if you drop a tool, or drip some glue. You can also place a drop cloth on the flooring you want to protect. Next, flip the chair over, or place it on a sawhorse or another flat, stable work surface. This will make the leg easily accessible and allow you to see the extent of the damage.
Keep in mind that loose legs, rungs, and spindles are commonplace issues in wooden chairs that are used often. You can occasionally repair loose legs by pushing glue into the joints. However, a broken leg that has been restored in this manner may become loose again. Once you’ve learned how to fix a broken table leg or chair leg, repairing the next one will be significantly easier.
Step 2: Remove the Chair Leg
To break the glue bond on tough joints, rotate the leg gently; if required, use self-locking pliers. Be careful when using pliers to protect any upholstery and the leg itself from potential damage. Wrap the leg area where you will clamp on the pliers with a soft cloth, then clamp down on the leg and begin gently rotating to loosen the leg.
Step 3: Remove the Existing Glue
After extracting the leg, remove all of the old glue from the component and its socket. It’s an important step when learning how to repair a chair leg and when doing all other woodwork repairs. Keep in mind that old glue does not adhere well to new glue and can ruin your repair work.
Step 4: Apply New Adhesive
Before filling the joints with wood glue, test each end of the component in its socket after removing the old adhesive. If the leg still fits snugly, apply glue to the socket and reinsert the loose part. Allow the reglued junction to cure fully before clamping it.
The following two steps may not be necessary when it comes to knowing how to repair a broken chair leg. However, if you’ve noticed that the tenon (the round- or square-shape peg at the end of a leg that fits into the mortise, or hole, creating a strong, interlocking joint) is damaged or the leg fits too loosely with the old adhesive removed, you may need to do some additional woodworking. More on that in the next step.
Step 5: Strengthen the Tenon
When you’re learning how to fix a chair leg keep in mind the importance of having a solid, well-crafted joint. If the tenon end is cracked or fractured, you'll need to strengthen it. Apply a small layer of bonding solution to the tenon and tightly wrap it with silk thread. Apply extra adhesive if required, then cover the tenon with a second coat of thread. Allow a day for the threaded tenon to cure before gluing the strengthened end into the mortise. Allow the joint to dry fully before clamping it.
Step 6: Widen the Tenon
If the tenon is sound in the chair leg you are repairing, but the legs or rungs are loose, here’s what to do to tighten them. Start by clamping the leg in a vice. Saw into the tenon’s center using a hacksaw to cut a smaller tenon and a backsaw or combination saw to cut a large one. Be sure you center the cut to a depth of about 3/4 inches.
Next, cut a narrow wedge from a soft piece of wood (like a wood shim) to match the width and depth of the saw cut in the tenon. The goal here is to use the wedge to widen the saw cut slightly, which will allow you to create a tighter fit for the tenon into the mortise. When you're sure the size of the wedge works, tap it gently into the saw cut. Excessive wedging can fracture the tenon, so be careful not to pound it too hard. Stop hammering when the tenon has expanded and cut any extruding wood off the wedge with a pocket knife. Finally, apply glue to the joint and reassemble it as before.
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