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rabe3134301
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎04-12-2011
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What glue for loose antique chairs?

I have some old oak chairs that were refinished years ago, and the joints are now loose.

I have them taken apart, all  joints are dowelled.  One side of each joint has a tight dowel.

The chairs have been loose so they have racked over time, the dowels do not all  fit tight.

 

They were originally glued with a hide or brown brittle glue.  Since then they have been repaired with both wood glue and hot melt.   I have succeeded to get most the old glues off, and surfaces prety clean.

 

My question is what glue for re-assembly?  Wood glue, epoxy, gorilla?

 

As stated, all the joints do not fit perfectly, some are a bit loose or not as even as when new.  I am sure some surfaces retained some glue residues.  Most the residue would be the original brown glue in wood pores.

 

Some joints have a loose dowel fit, and the space needs to be filled or be adhesive.

 

Please advise.

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p_toad
Posts: 3,421
Registered: ‎12-31-2009
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Re: What glue for loose antique chairs?

[ Edited ]

Welcome to the forums.  I'm sure others will be along shortly to weigh in on this.  There are probably as many thoughts on this as there are members on the forum.  :smileyhappy:

 

The only glue i know that would give your repair the "fill" that a worn opening would require would be epoxy.  The good part is that it might hold up longer than the rest of the chair and the bad part is that you would probably never be able to get that joint apart again for future repair.  You may want to consider (1) replace dowel with new larger size (if you can turn new one(s)) or (2) shave down the end of the dowel and make a wood collar to fit the hole.  You could possibly do this with a larger piece of dowel bored to accept the old and the hole that receives it might have to be bored for the larger size...    This would end up looking like a collar in the hole into which the dowel fits; but should be able to be refinished to match the rest of the chair; making your repair not so obvious.

 

Considering the current looseness of the joints I don't think gorilla or wood glue is a good choice.  If you try the collar, plain old yellow wood glue would work (as would hide glue...and hide glue has the added advantage of being significantly easier to "take apart" and repair again in the future should you need to do that).  

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kmealy
Posts: 2,119
Registered: ‎10-26-2009

Re: What glue for loose antique chairs?

 

 

The good thing about hide glue is that it reactivates itself.  When I find it in a chair, I like to use it again.   If the joints are loose, I replace the dowels or add wood veneer shims, as needed. 

 


When it's an ordinary production chair, I use Elmer's white glue (since Titebond quit making it).   I like white because it does not grab as quickly as yellow and allows me to re-work and align for a few minutes.  It's as strong as yellow.

 

 

Some people like epoxy as a good gap-filler.   The problem I have with it is that is not reversible.  I figure if I use it, it's probably the last repair possible.  Though I hate to admit it, I've used it for a restaurant where the chairs are on their last legs (no pun intended).  They want them to last until they can afford to replace them all.  But the exising chairs are chewed up around the feet and seats, are full of food residue, have finish worn off and are generally disgusting.  I'm just trying to get them safe for use again.

 

Gorilla Glue would be my far distant last choice.  In fact, I can't think of an instance where I would use it.   Maybe if a gun was pointed at my head.  I see more botched jobs with GG than anything else.

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amateur60
Posts: 1,645
Registered: ‎10-24-2009
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Re: What glue for loose antique chairs?

[ Edited ]

Ideally, loose joints should not be filled with glue.  Instead wrap them with veneer, a shaving from a plane, or even a piece of linen.  Then you can re-glue with hide glue.  (Liquid hide glue such as Patrick Edwards Old Brown Glue or Titebond will work.)  This is definately be the proceedure for antiques with significant value. 

 

If these chairs are oak with doweled joints, then they are most likely factory made Victorian era or later chairs of value not as collectables but because you sit on them.  It this point using epoxy is less a sin, though it may well mean that it's the last time you can repair them. And, chairs will need to be repaired again.  Epoxy is pretty messy, hard to prevent drips and runs from loose joints and hard to clean off surfaces.  That means if you mess up with epoxy you have really messed up. 

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Steve Mickley
Posts: 1,567
Registered: ‎10-21-2009
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It has been my experience that there are two types of chairs:

 

Victoria;

 

…1) those that need to be repaired, and 2) those that will need to be repaired in the future.  I am, therefore, pretty much in agreement with the points made by Kmealy (especially his aversion to Gorilla glue).  My preferred glue for chairs is hide glue because it holds well, is easily reversed and when being repaired it joins well to itself.  If the joints don’t fit (and the chair is worth saving) then the joint should be repaired.  “Gap Filling” with epoxy is an acceptable last repair if you define “last repair” to mean that you will never again be able to repair the chair in the future!  It does not mean that the chair won’t again need to be repaired… 

 

Steve   

 

Finishing & Refinishing Forum Host
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kmealy
Posts: 2,119
Registered: ‎10-26-2009
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Re: It has been my experience that there are two types of chairs:

[ Edited ]

Here's a photo of a typical Gorilla Glue repair

 

1. Foam out around the edges

2. Tenon pushed out of the mortise

3. (Presumably) still loose

 

And please do not add screws, nails or staples to joints.  There is a special room in Hell for people that do this.   I don't know where I heard this quote, but I've adopted it.  "Nails keep a joint from coming apart, but they do not keep them from becoming loose."   Subsequent disassembly is a real problem without having to cause more damage.  Also, I've never seen a broken tenon that had a nail or screw in it where the break was not right through the fastener.   Adding metal merely concentrates the forces in small areas rather than distributes it over a larger glue line surface.

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smallpatch1
Posts: 2,724
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
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Re: What glue for loose antique chairs?

 And like Keith I also only use white glue for chair rungs. The reason, because it never gets brittle hard like the yellow glues. It will give a little without cracking out like when people are leaning back in a chair that is suppose to stay on all four legs at all times.. When you are doing repairs for a living you want your jobs to last. It ain't worth a flip though if you are trying to sand it. All other places I use yellow glue except chairs.

 

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