Help: gluing up an old chair

I'm using a very standard old wooden chair for my desk (it feels good, for some reason), but the dowels that hold it together have come loose.
I've been gluing wood in various ways and for various purposes for 20 years, but I cannot seem to get glue to hold this chair together for more than a few days.
I've tried yellow glue, polyurethane glue, cyanoacrylate glue, even tried epoxy resin. But those joints just don't hold, esp. where the seat meets the back.
Any suggestions?
Thanks,
s
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An antique dealer I used to work for swore by using strips torn from bandages. She disassembled the chair enough to get to the glue joints, scraped off the old glue, then wrapped the end with the bandage pieces, applied plenty of glue. OPnce it was all clamped back together, she used a sharp knife to cut away the excess bandage material and let it all dry.
Worked for her. She said the key was to get all of the old glue out so the new glue could bind it all together. Anne

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On 2/1/2010 6:53 PM anne watson spake thus:

That actually doesn't sound like a bad way to approach it.
The problem with the OP's attempts to reglue the spindles is that you can't just pour or smear more glue on a bad joint and expect it to hold. To do it right, you really need to disassemble the joint and clean it, as you said. Now you're undoubtedly left with a joint with a gap, so you need to fill the gap.
I actually think the bandage idea, as weird as it sounds, is a lot better than, say, trying to get sawdust mixed with glue in there, though even that would be better than nothing.
And please don't let's anyone suggest epoxy, Bondo or such. It should be possible to fix this with the normal wood adhesives.

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Two ideas:
First, Rockler (and I'm sure it is available elsewhere) sells a product that allows you to inject a liquid into loose fitting joints with a syringe. The liquid swells the wood and tightens the joint. I haven't tried it, but the representative I spoke with said it really works well.
The second idea is that I came across a product that is basicall small metal strips that have serrated teeth. These are used to wrap around the dowel or mortise and reinsert back into the joint. Made by "Woodmate's" and called "Mr Grip Furniture repair kit"
Hope that helps
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As noted, the joints have to be cleaned of the old glue. Replace any dowels with larger dowels, where applicable.
I use the gauze bandage technique occassionally, as well as paper towels for that type of filling. Instead of wrapping it around the dowel, cut the gauze or paper towel into a cross, like the American Red Cross' symbol, and it stuffs into the dowel hole similar to loading a cloth wad into a muzzle loader. It folds itself into the hole. This allows for dry fitting, too, if you need multiple crosses. In cases where you think the stuffing may be too much and splitting of the wood is suspect: prior to assembly, tighten a screw clamp (hose clamp) around the suspect piece, then assemble. On a square member, where a screw clamp won't make complete contact on all surfaces, insert wedges into the spaces for more even compression all around.
Additionally, to assure your repair doesn't fail, never remove the clamps. Is it April 1st, yet?
Sonny
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On Tue, 02 Feb 2010 05:00:13 -0800, billtvt wrote:

I have tried it, and it does. IIRC, its called Chair Doctor.
--
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw

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I'm going by Rockler's today to try this before the other solutions mentioned here. Thanks everyone!
s
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RE: Subject
Until you are willing to take the chair apart and clean out the joints removing ALL the old glue, NOTHING including epoxy thickened with micro-balloons is going to solve your problem.
Lew
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On Tue, 2 Feb 2010 09:49:31 -0800, the infamous "Lew Hodgett"

Yeah, what he said.
-- Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will. -- George Bernard Shaw
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Larry Blanchard wrote:

FWIW, a friend of mine had a chair that was getting loose. Chair doctor fixed it for a while but then it loosened up again. I offered to tear it down and reglue it for him, but he's pushing 100 and it's a cheap chair and he'd rather a quick fix--he figures that at his age _something_ is gonna get him pretty soon--so I put corner plates between each rail and each leg--it's been two years now and it's still fine.
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says...

I went to Rocklers and they now sell something called Tite Chairs. It's made of ethyl cyanoacrylate and it cost 11 bucks. I wonder why I don't just use superglue.
s
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[...snip...]

I've used those. They do help loose joints grip. I don't think they would work well over the long haul in a chair, however.
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Jim Weisgram wrote:

FWIW, there's a Bruce Hoadley article on dowel joints in the Fine Woodworking archive that might be of interest--he explains why they fail and has some suggestions on what do do about it. The article can be reached from http://www.finewoodworking.com/SkillsAndTechniques/SkillsAndTechniquesPDF.aspx?id 44, but you need to have a Fine Woodworking Online subscription to see it--they have a two week free trial so you don't have to pay anything to get it unless you've already used up your trial.
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That's usual for chairs - they see a hard life with lots of racking stresses on the leg joints.
There are three good approaches:
1. Veritas' "Chair Doctor" glue. This is a watery glue that swells the existing tenons. When it works, it works well. However a chair that has been broken for long will have worn and rounded tenons and you need something that's gap filling too.
2. Epoxy with a filler. Use good epoxy (West System) and an appropriate fibre filler, mixed to the consistency of mayonnaise. If it's really bad, use the epoxy on the tenon first (and stiffened to peanut butter texture) to get the tenon back to shape, let that cure and then shape it to fit, before re-gluing with slightly thinner epoxy (maybe microballoon filler rather than fibres).
3. Antiques use hide glue, nothing else. Sometimes some complicated joinery too.
Cleaning off old glue first is important if it's thick, or if you're gap filling.
Don't use foxed wedges in tenons.
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Without a big dissasemble and re-build pretty much any liquid solution won't stand up to the pressures a chair takes. Not sure how precious this chair is but I would consider long screws. Pre-drill from the back side and try to drill right down the center of the dowel. Use a screw that is longer than the dowel. Counter bore the hole so the screw head is below the surface and you can plug the hole with a dowel. Find a chart that tells you the drill bit size for a pilot hole and shaft hole. The screw should really just bite into the second piece so the first piece has a slightly larger hole. Finally, use epoxy on the dowels and joint as best possible before screwing.

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