Repairing an old wooden chair

This old chair was given to us by my late father in law. I used to use it as my computer chair until one evening it collapsed, nothing to do with my weight either….. So it got put in the loft for a time when I could fix it up again. Can’t remember when I put it in there, that’s how long its been. So thought it was time to do the right thing and bring it back to life.

Photographing the chair for reference

The dissasemble

Because it was in such a bad state I thought I would take it to pieces and start all over again. A lot of the joints had come apart anyway so that made my life a bit easier. As I took it apart I used some tape as tags and labeled every bit. Good job too because there were 20 bits of wood in front of me after I was finished, the old memory isn’t as good as it used to be. To be honest I hadn’t been looking after it very well over the years. When one joint came loose, I just glued it together with anything I could find as a temporary fix until I had time to do it properly. Now I`m paying the price because I have to clean off every bodged up joint I did. As I was disassembling the chair, I took photos of each stage to help when I had to put it together again.

The cleanup.

Because I wanted to keep the sanding to the minimum, I used a card scraper. Now although I have been a carpenter for 30 years, I have never needed to use one. What I have been missing. The card scraper is to keep it as authentic as possible and doesn’t look like I’ve just brought from Ikea. We think the chair dates to around the victorian times so the card scrapper was the best way to clean off all the mess and not sand it down. Some of the joints were dowelled, weather it was repaired over the years or they were original. I drilled out the old dowels and replaced them with new dowels and used a good quality glue. ( Titebond II ).

The Repair

There were a few cracks and splits in some of the pieces of wood, I didn’t use any filler, I just applied as much glue as I could into the crack or split and clamped them overnight to let them stabilise. There was one arm that the end was beyond repair so I used the other arm to make a pattern out of Oak and spliced it into the end of the broken one. For some reason I could not match up the grain pattern, then realised after gluing and shaping the piece, it wasn’t Oak, It was Ash, nice one. I had wasted hours on it but I couldn’t leave it so I cut it off and started again, using Ash. One of the backrest bars with three mortices in was split and part of the mortice sockets had gone. I cut out part of the bar and block filled the piece and recut the mortice. It just made a better job and more stable. After planing down the repairs I used a scrapper to finish off the repairs but no sanding.

The Assembly

Because there were so many parts to the chair, I had no chance of gluing it as one piece. I decided to divide the chair into modules and when they were dry I would glue the modules together and hopefully do it all before the glue goes off. There were bolts holding some parts together so I glued up first then tightened the bolts before the glue went off so everything was pulled into place. After gluing all the sections together I put some weights on to the seat part of the chair to make sure the legs all settle down together. I didn’t do anymore than a wipe over the seat padding. It wasn’t that bad but the wife wanted to be left as it was.

Applying the OSMO finish

The Finish

Now, If you’ve seen ant of my other videos, you would have seen I`m a great lover of OSMO poly-x hard wax oil. It is more expensive than a lot of other finishes but it’s worth the extra money. Care needs to be taken when you are applying it but the finish is worth the hassle. The way I apply it is a bit different too. I apply the OSMO with a non-scouring pad. It cant be a scouring pad like the old Brillo pads or you will be sanding that back out for hours. I brought a pack of non-scouring A5 pads from eBay for a few pounds/dollars. The method I use is on YouTube used by many others, so I borrowed it.

The first thing to do is stir the OSMO thoroughly, It is made up of oil and wax and they naturally separate into the two different components. you will also need to stir now and then during use. I cut three strips out of the A5 sheet. one I fold in half and apply the OSMO as thinly as possible, the thinner the coats the better. When you think you have all the OSMO out of the pad keep going, its got more to give. When its all rubbed in with the first pad in the area you have started, use the second pad to smooth off any drips. if you leave drips it will dry white. I think it is the wax coming to the top. When the applicator pad gets too soaked, throw away and use the smoothing pad as the new applicator and get a new smoothing pad and carry on till finished. between each coat, you need to leave a good 24 hours. When the first coat is dry, I use a new dry pad to buff over the whole area instead of sandpaper and apply the second coat. How many coats you apply is up to you and what kind of finish you were looking for.

Well, that’s it. project finished. I have left a link at the bottom of the page so you can watch the video, If you like the video please like the video and if you would like to see more of my videos please subscribe, it costs nothing. until the next one, Cheers.