My course of action with any repair, restoration or conservation is: Do No Harm. That is, I try to deal with the essential structural, finish, hardware, etc. issues without forcing changes on the piece’s elements who are otherwise still integral and functioning. In the case of this chair, I set my course of action like this: Dismantle loose or broken parts, upgrade hardware (screws, corner blocks as needed), reglue, and touch up the finish.
Corner block removal
The two front legs’ corner blocks were broken as a result of the trauma that the chair witnessed. These blockers were connected with short and inferior screws but also had inadequate grain orientation, which weakened them (I will write more about corner blocks and how to make them in my next entry). Removing the screws was not easy, and since their steel was soft, instead of turning the screws out, the driver ground the cross socket into a “nice” cone.
Luckily I have a set of screw extractors, so I employed one of them, anchored it in the screw’s head, and was able to turn it out.
Two of the quarter circle corner brackets also broke off, and they too were connected with impossible-to-turn screws. So I used my screw extractors and released the captive screws.
Gluing the broken legs
I set up some clamps and pads made from corrugated cardboard and poured glue into the broken mortises. I spread the glue with a brush and tightened the clamps.
After the glue dried, I noticed the mortises were made longer than the width of the tenons. This gap could lead to future failure, so I decided to tuck in a wooden wedge to lock the joint. I made my wedge from half a dowel, spread the glue around it, and drove it in using a punch.
After the glue dried, I saw it flush with the surface.
Next week I will continue to demonstrate how I repaired the chair.
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