I broke a dining room armchair reaching for a dropped napkin. The tenon
that holds the front rail of the seat to the leg broke off. I cannot take
apart the entire chair without rebuilding every joint. I presume there are
techniques that will produce a strong repair as a "hidden" joint.
No, there aren't. Chairs are hard. Hard to make, harder to fix. Their
joints get a _lot_ more stress on them than any other piece of
It's almost certainly fixable, but it's the sort of job where you've
just got to _see_ it to know how. Hidden loose tenons are popular, as
are pocket screws up from inside or beneath. You may also (especially
with a loose tenon) to dismantle other parts to get it apart.
I know about the hidden loose tenon approach, but that requires
disassembling the chair totally. I think the pocket screw approach is more
pragmatic. If I do it correctly it will be quite strong (particularly with
epoxy between the rail and the leg), and I can fill the pockets so they're
That's much better than my initial thought of using an angle iron in a
Don't use epoxy for woodworking, and certainly not for repairs. It's
_too_ strong, mainly it's too stiff and it's also not usually applied
over a wide area.
A typical epoxy repair is a small blob placed where it's easy to get
to. It's a strong repair at first and looks good - but it overloads the
timber it's applied to and on something like a chair you'll simply
cause another break alongside the first one.
You can use epoxy in woodworking, but it's not easy to do. Generally
you need a large glued area and you have to be very careful with design
as to where you're leading the forces. For repair work, unless you're
applying something like a bandage around a scarf joint, then it's too
difficult to arrange this.
Is the chair modern or antique. If the glue is hide glue, it's not that big
a job to loosen the other joints.
You said the joints are mortise and tenons, not dowel. Are there diagonal
corner blocks at the leg to rail connection? If so,can the block be
reinforced? If there are no corner blocks, maybe you can add some. Jeff
Miller has comments about the importance of corner blocks in his book
"Chairmaking and Design".
Can you drill through the leg (from the outside) and insert a dowel or a
woodscrew, then use a plug to hide the hole? Maybe a dowel and diagonal
corner block would work. I really don't like dowels in chairs, but a lot
factory furniture use them.
I don't have a lot of confidence using pocket screws in shear. The wood that
failed may not hold the screw threads. Maybe pocket screws and a beefed up
diagonal corner block would work.
My reply is rambling, but that's the order things came to mind for me.
The set is Drexel and built in 1958. I'll look at the legs to see if there
are corner blocks; if so they'll be reinforced, if not, added.
I suppose that I could. I was trying to make the repair invisible under
My thought was to insert the screw from the top of the rail. It would be
under compression in the leg. Perhaps glue, a screw, and a corner block (or
a better one) would be the combination to use.
Many thanks, all of you,
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