I am about to restore some old oak dining chairs, primarily by
re-upholstering the seats.
Before starting that I would like to tighten up a few of the mortice joints
that have become a bit loose and creaky.
These joints are not so loose as to be able to actually pull apart.
Is there any way to inject an adhesive, perhaps through a tiny hole bored
from the inside of the frame?
Any other suggestions, (including websites with useful practical info') ?
NB. For purposes of obtaining materials, etc, I'm in UK.
If you can pull it apart, the best route would be to take apart the joints,
clean them of all existing glue and then re-glue and clamp them. Or you
could check out something like Chair-lok or Chair Doctor(I can't think of
the actual name) go to Lee Valley http://www.leevalley.com and look up
Thank you. That Chair Doctor stuff looks exactly what I need. I couldn't
pull my chairs apart without doing damage either to other joints or to the
I haven't seen that type of adhesive injection kit before, but I was sure
someone must have addressed the problem.
Dear Mr. Pope:
Since you indicate "old" chairs, I will assume that they are at least
pre-WWII. If so they are most likely glued with hide glue, known to
some folks where you are, (I understand) as Scotch glue. Using a
product like Chairlok (which is a wood fibre sweller) or Chair Doctor
(which is both a sweller and a glue) may not prove wholly satisfactory
since a glue coating on the tenon will negate some of the benefit of
using these products as they cannot swell the wood, not being able to
reliably penetrate the old glue film. Neither product is reversible in
the event you later have to remove it and thus may have some
detrimental effect on the value of your old pieces. If you have
decided not to take the frame to pieces and clean off the old glue,
which is by far the best way to proceed, you can opt for the injection
method, using slightly thinned fish (www.leevalley.com) or liquid hide
glue (e.g. Franklins) and a syringe. Where in the UK you may access
these glues, I do not know for sure, but any good cabinet maker's
supplier should stock them, or at least be able to put you on to a
source. Woodcraft Supply (www.woodcraft.com)in the US has a very nice
unit (high pressure glue injector - Item #12P01) which can apply
considerable pressure to inject the glue - I have used it and it works
well. The ability to inject under considerable pressure is very
important. VanDykes Restorers in the US (www.vandykes.com) also has
this unit. You might check with Mylands in London to see if they carry
it as well. The principle is somewhat like a grease gun used to force
grease into the grease nipples on your car. I should add that unless
you can open the joint fully, using regular hot hide glue will not be
an option for the injector since the gel or set up time is quite
short. If you go to your public library, they most likely have a copy
of "Antique Furniture Repairs" by Charles Hayward - a classic -
wherein he describes how to make your own injector as well as
outlining more tips and tricks on the topic than most of us will ever
need. If your chairs are more modern and use "modern" glues, new glue
will not stick well to old at the best of times, and, in my opinion,
the only reliable option is disassembly and removal of the old
residues, then resetting in fresh glue. Remember that, whatever method
you opt for, clamping the reassembled joint is a must to avoid too
much flexing which will contribute to premature failure of the new
joint. Good luck. Oldwood.
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