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FURNITURE TIPS AND TRICKS
George Utley email@example.com
Tightening loose chairs is one furniture repair most homeowners avoid. Everyone assumes you need dozens of clamps, a special glue and knowledge akin to black magic to repair a chair - not so. Your total expenditure for repairing every loose chair in your home should be less than $50.00, even if you have to buy everything I list. Since the explanation takes more space than I have here, were going to do this project in two parts. This column will be on taking a chair apart - next time well cover the assembly process.
For now, well assume the chair is loose, but nothing is broken. Replacing broken parts is a whole other ball game.
The first consideration is the type of chair. If you have a typical dinette set (informal) the chairs have legs that are not perpendicular to the floor and all the joints are glue joints. The legs are glued directly into the bottom of the seat with no screws. Dining room chairs (formal) typically have legs parallel to each other (or nearly so), perpendicular to the floor. The cushioned seat is attached with screws, and the corners of the frame immediately below the seat are held together with a block in each corner that is screwed and glued in place. Most chairs will fit into one or the other of these two categories, or perhaps combine features of both.
Youll need a rubber mallet (wrapping an old sock around a regular hammer will NOT work). This will run less than $10.00. 16 to 24 ounces is heavy enough. A roll of 1" masking tape, a pencil, a screwdriver (maybe) and a sharp pocket knife will complete your tool list for disassembly.
First put a piece of masking tape on each part of the chair to mark its position. I use a simple abbreviation code; RF=right front, LF=left front, etc. Mark each piece; all four legs, the stretchers that run between the legs front to back on each side, and, if there are any, the stretcher(s) running left to right. Mark the stretchers so you can tell which end goes in front, back, left or right. These pieces may look symmetrical but chances are they arent. They must go back in the same position the were in originally. With a formal chair, also mark the rails, those board-like pieces immediately beneath the seat cushion.
With a formal chair, remove the upholstered seat and the screws holding the wooden corner blocks in place. Number the blocks and the inside of the rail so you can put the blocks back where they came from.
Now for see what you can pull apart just by wiggling and pulling on the pieces. After youve removed what you can, go after the stretchers, if they havent already come out. Use the mallet to hit the leg, swinging parallel to the stretcher. Hit as close to the joint as possible, holding the stretcher tightly. Continue this process until the stretchers are removed.
Having removed the stretchers, the legs should be looser than they were, if not falling out. Use the same process to separate the legs from the rails (on a formal chair) or, on an informal chair turn the piece upside down, striking the seat bottom with the mallet while holding the leg to be removed. Always try to hit as close to the joint as possible, swinging in line with the piece youre trying to remove. You want to pull it out, not break it off. Do this over a padded surface. If the piece separates suddenly, remember youre holding only part of it...the rest will fall. One last note: some joints will be just as tight as the day they were originally glued. The old adage, "If it aint broke, dont fix it" applies. If you cant get a joint apart without extreme extertion, leave it alone.
After youve congratulated yourself on getting the piece apart without breaking anything, take a break. Well clean this chair up and put it back together in our next column. As always, if you have any questions on this or other furniture problems, drop me a line at the Enterprise.
George Utley has about 20 years experience in furniture
George Utley firstname.lastname@example.org