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Adhesive/wood filler for oak chair leg repair

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Forum topic by Warner posted 01-13-2018 07:32 PM 808 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Warner

34 posts in 1782 days


01-13-2018 07:32 PM

I’m repairing an oak chair. One leg is broken most of the way through and looks like it was chewed by a dog. I’m looking for advice on how to make the repair. The customer doesn’t have a lot of money in the chair and doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on it. Does anyone know of an epoxy that would work as a wood filler and also be a strong enough adhesive to hold the leg together? Any other ideas?

-- Flint Hills, Kansas


19 replies so far

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Warner

34 posts in 1782 days


#1 posted 01-13-2018 07:34 PM

I’ve been doing some research and found this. Has anyone used it before? If you have would it work for this?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001OXWI3Y/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B001OXWI3Y&linkCode=as2&tag=thecrablo09-20&linkId=TUFWIXNXANH6RR26

-- Flint Hills, Kansas

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Loren

10477 posts in 3848 days


#2 posted 01-13-2018 08:15 PM

That’s thrashed, imo. No way filling that will
make that chair usable again. Maybe if the
customer wants to put a plant on it or something
but people sitting on it, no.

I’ve seen chairs in museums where restorers
used acrylic plates on either side of the leg
to hold it together for posterity but those
chairs weren’t suited for sitting either.

The right way to do it would be take the whole
chair apart and make a new leg.

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John Smith

1482 posts in 363 days


#3 posted 01-13-2018 08:50 PM

when I had my first shop, I was awarded a contract with the US Navy Base, Kings Bay, GA
for military members that had furniture damaged in shipment during their PCS transfer moves.
[the government reimburses military personnel for damaged household goods]
I have repaired some things that most people would toss in the dumpster right away.
I have repaired dozens of broken legs and arms on chairs, tables, etc.
if it is indeed not repairable, I got paid for the time it took for evaluation, and provided the
service member with a form that says “non repairable” for them to file with their claim.

for a clean break, clean up all the loose splinters so you can mend it back together.
it has to fit snug, without force, prior to any attempt at the next step.
if feasible, some parts must be removed to make the repairs as accurate as possible.
once the break fits cleanly back together, drill a 1/2” hole 3 or 4” deep in each piece so that a splint dowel
will fit in-line. mix polyester resin, insert a 3/8” wood dowel the length of the two holes.
make sure the break fits true and correct. next is the messy part. using masking tape,
tape off the parts that you do not want to get resin on.
pour the polyester resin into each hole – insert the dowel – try to contain the resin in the joint
as much as possible. it sets up quick so you have to be sure everything is true before it hardens.
there is no going back after this point.
after the resin cures and cools – remove all the mess with a rasp, files, sanding blocks, etc.
step #2 is make a dam with masking tape to fill the voids. after it cures, rasp, file and sand again.
the reason I use polyester fiberglass resin is that you can sand it smooth – you can not sand epoxy.
turn it over, do the next side the same way – and so forth until you are satisfied with the repair.
if it is a painted piece – prime and paint to match.
if it is natural wood with a clear finish – you need to have some lacquer color sticks on hand.
https://www.shellac.net/burn_in_stick_color_guide.html (several brands on the market for the same thing).
this is applied with a hot knife like warm wax – it hardens pretty hard after it is cooled.
more sanding, mixing colors, etc. lots and lots of sanding.

for a skilled craftsman, this is not a difficult task and can be successfully done.
if you have limited tools, limited experience, and limited skill level, you would be better
off taking the piece to a professional wood shop to have it repaired.
if it is not of great sentimental value – try to part it out and repurpose it for something else.
if not – put it by the curb, maybe someone else can do something with it.
Liquid Wood is a two-part epoxy product. very hard to sand.
unless you have some experience with epoxy, Bondo and other fillers, I would not use it.

this particular type of repair is pretty involved. it comes down to the budget:
what is your time worth vs what the customer is willing to pay.
if he says “forget it – keep the chair” then you can practice on it and hone your repair skills.
totally a judgement call on your part of what to do with it now.

if you want to start repairing furniture, there are tons of videos on YouTube on how to do it.
pick up some “curb finds” of broken chairs and practice on them.
back in my day, there was no YouTube or cell phones – we learned from our mentors.

jus my Dos Centavos

.

-- I started out with nothing in life ~ and still have most of it left.

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alittleoff

541 posts in 1477 days


#4 posted 01-13-2018 09:11 PM

What if you just cut the bottom of the leg off right below the seat and make a new part, using a lap joint or dowel pins to re attach it. It wouldn’t be to hard to make the short part of the leg. I dont know how it would hold up but it should hold as well as a repair on what’s there.
Gerald

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Rich

3880 posts in 790 days


#5 posted 01-13-2018 10:42 PM

That’s an easy repair, if you can get the leg free of those rungs. You need that flat surface for clamping cauls.

For starters, I’d be hesitant to use the product you posted the link to. It’s a filler and might or might not have the adhesive strength you need for this repair to support weight. West Systems and System Three both offer fillers that can be mixed with their epoxy to achieve whatever thickness you want, but I wouldn’t go too thick because you definitely want it to completely fill the voids for strength.

Have ready clamping cauls for the two flat sides, covered with clear packing tape, and several clamps. The cauls should be narrower than the side face of the leg, so you can still get clamps on the front and back faces to pull it together in that direction. Completely fill the joint with epoxy, and clamp its side faces using the cauls. Then take F-clamps and squeeze the front and back together. Let it cure and do whatever cleanup and refinishing you would normally do.

Just a couple of thoughts… I’d use the slowest setting epoxy you have. I’d also do a dry clamp first to make sure there aren’t any pieces down in the crack that will block the joint coming back together. If there are, you can secure them in place with adhesive, or remove them. Also, you can tint the epoxy to give you a head start on blending the repair. It’ll never be undetectable, but Mixol pigments are available online and in stores like Woodcraft that can be used to tint it. Finally, one or two long wood screws driven and countersunk at angles through the joint will add strength. You can fill the hole with filler or a plug. Also, be sure to test it for strength before anyone sits on it.

I’m not sure why anyone would say you can’t sand epoxy. I’m working almost exclusively in mesquite these days that requires lots of epoxy filler for voids and cracks, and I plane and sand epoxy all the time with excellent results. For what it’s worth, I’ve been using System Three products.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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John Smith

1482 posts in 363 days


#6 posted 01-13-2018 11:13 PM

Rich – I’m not sure why anyone would say you can’t sand epoxy.

I have used gallons of West System and Raka over the past few decades
and I just hate to sand it. many people don’t mind it (but I do).
I just prefer the harder version like polyester resin in most circumstances such as this.

matter of preference – I guess.

.

-- I started out with nothing in life ~ and still have most of it left.

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Rich

3880 posts in 790 days


#7 posted 01-13-2018 11:30 PM


I have used gallons of West System and Raka over the past few decades
and I just hate to sand it. many people don t mind it (but I do).
I just prefer the harder version like polyester resin in most circumstances such as this.
matter of preference – I guess.

- John Smith

You specifically said, “you can not sand epoxy.” That’s a bit different from it being a matter of personal preference.

[removed by admin]

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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a1Jim

117328 posts in 3778 days


#8 posted 01-14-2018 12:12 AM

There are number of ways to repair this damage but to my thought, none of them make sense unless you want to repair this leg just for the challenge and practice, you already said your customer does not want to spend a lot of money (whatever that means) so a big part of the formula for doing this repair is not sound business unless your doing it for the reasons I mentioned earlier.
If your going to proceed I kind of like alittleoff’s suggesting of using a half lap with pins(dowels inside) Unless you remake the leg I doubt the legs going to look very attractive without a lot of fussing with woodgrain matching and very precise joinery and skilled finish matching.

-- https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos wood crafting & woodworking classes

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John Smith

1482 posts in 363 days


#9 posted 01-14-2018 01:38 AM

I guess after being in the military for 21 years and a successful business owner and operator for many years,
I have found by trial and error what works and what doesn’t.
and what makes good business sense, what jobs will make money and the ones that won’t.
quick paint jobs that will fail later is not good for business.
using the wrong primer and paint combinations that will fail later, is not good for business.
quick and ineffective repairs that may fail later are not good for business.
I’m sorry that I come off a little abrasive and a “know it all”, but, from being in a self employed
atmosphere for most of my adult life, I have been exposed to a lot of different situations
that I have learned from. sometimes the expensive way, but I learned. I enjoy sharing my education
and skills with others just as much as the other members here.
I guess I can tone it down a notch or two and if anyone wants an in depth tutorial on something,
we can do that in private and not disturb anyone else.
thanks for the heads up.

oh BTW, I had to look up “self-aggrandizement” – - – (and I guess that is an accurate statement).

.

-- I started out with nothing in life ~ and still have most of it left.

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diversity210

5 posts in 778 days


#10 posted 01-14-2018 02:08 AM

From a business perspective. It just isnt a job that is worth taking on. You say the customer does not want to spend a lot of money, but any repair to that chair will be time consuming and costly. John smith as the most sound structural integral suggestion for repairing but it just wont be worth it for you to undertake. Unless you are new and just trying to build a reputation and are willing to take a big loss for little gain in reputation. Any repair you make to the leg will also not be very attractive. With that amount of damage you are not going to get the grain matched well enough to look presentable when finished. Unless you are going to sand the entire chair down and paint it, but thats even more time and expense. The best bet most time sensitive and budget friendly solution would be to pick of some red oak stock and use the other leg as a template to make a new one. As I said there. In the end you are just going to loose. What ever measures you take in repairing this chair. If the customer had said I dont care what it costs. Just fix the chair. Id say go for it, but that does not happen to the average professional trying to make a buck. Sometimes in business you just have to learn when to say no to a certain job. Knowing when to say no can will save you a lot of time, headaches, and cost.

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MrUnix

7046 posts in 2399 days


#11 posted 01-14-2018 02:59 AM

I use polyester fiberglass resin is that you can sand it smooth – you can not sand epoxy.
[...]
I have used gallons of West System and Raka over the past few decades
and I just hate to sand it. many people don t mind it (but I do).
I just prefer the harder version like polyester resin in most circumstances such as this.
- John Smith

LOL – it’s like watching someone argue with themselves :)

I’ve done quite a bit of work with epoxy (and polyester) in a marine environment (not to mention in a woodworking environment as well), and have sanded more than my fair share of epoxy – it certainly can be done. And yes, it’s not as easy to sand as polyester, as epoxy is a much harder substance. That is why stuff like Bondo is made with polyester resin, not epoxy. It’s softer and easier to sand, but it is nowhere as good as an adhesive and has some other undesirable qualities (shrinkage, moisture absorption, etc..) that epoxy doesn’t.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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OnhillWW

144 posts in 1433 days


#12 posted 01-14-2018 03:50 AM

I’m with Loren – eventually someone is going to sit in that chair and lean it back on the hind two legs and that is going to put a completely different kind of stress on that joint and it will fail – eventually. My guess with the two stringers located near the crack that that is exactly the kind of stress that did the leg in in the first place.

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad

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Kelly

2125 posts in 3145 days


#13 posted 01-14-2018 04:51 AM

I just got done repairing a ten foot long pick nick table made from pieces of a wine vat. It was redwood and missing the cantilevered end of one of the seats.

To pull it off, so people could still sit on it and not be surprised [finding themselves sitting on the ground], I had to match wood, and overlap pieces.

In the end, there is a butt joint in the middle and you can see the end of it, but it had to be pointed out by the owner, or no one noticed it.

For my repair, the two outer layers are longer, by about sixteen inches and are added on to the original middle layer, which was cut down to allow adding the two outer layers. On a ten inch wide seat, this left a butt joint line about four inches wide which, as noted, you could see, but wasn’t notable.

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Kelly

2125 posts in 3145 days


#14 posted 01-14-2018 04:54 AM

I agree. Many of my finest turnings have cracks filled with epoxy that have been sanded and buffed successfully. It wasn’t that much of a problem. Of course, I didn’t know I couldn’t do it. ;)


I use polyester fiberglass resin is that you can sand it smooth – you can not sand epoxy.
[...]
I have used gallons of West System and Raka over the past few decades
and I just hate to sand it. many people don t mind it (but I do).
I just prefer the harder version like polyester resin in most circumstances such as this.
- John Smith

LOL – it s like watching someone argue with themselves :)

I ve done quite a bit of work with epoxy (and polyester) in a marine environment (not to mention in a woodworking environment as well), and have sanded more than my fair share of epoxy – it certainly can be done. And yes, it s not as easy to sand as polyester, as epoxy is a much harder substance. That is why stuff like Bondo is made with polyester resin, not epoxy. It s softer and easier to sand, but it is nowhere as good as an adhesive and has some other undesirable qualities (shrinkage, moisture absorption, etc..) that epoxy doesn t.

Cheers,
Brad

- MrUnix


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Rich

3880 posts in 790 days


#15 posted 01-14-2018 05:04 AM

LOL. From a business perspective? First, the OP asked for advice repairing the chair. We don’t know what the specifics are financially, so offering advice outside of simply how to repair the chair is unnecessary — the OP can make the financial decision on his own. If I have a good customer who I do business with and he asks about a repair like that, it’s not about the profit on the job, it’s about good relations. It would be shortsighted to think only in terms of the profit on that one job.

I have a piece coming back FedEx that I sold for a lot of money and was damaged by the customer. I’m repairing it for free and only charging the shipping cost to return it. I know the guy. He’ll insist on paying me and I’ll refuse. Why? It’s good business. He’ll appreciate the gesture and buy from me again. Declining a two-figure repair charge will likely bring a four-figure sale down the road. Besides, the last time I did a job for him for free, he shipped me $250 worth of Mangalitsa pork. Ever had Mangalitsa? It’s like the wagyu of pork.

Now, for the naysayers who think it won’t hold up — done right, it will. Epoxy is stronger than wood, and if that joint is carefully filled and clamped, it isn’t going anywhere. Not only that, but with careful use of pigments, it won’t be undetectable, but it won’t be an eyesore either. Give the customer what he wants.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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