#36 Carpentry | I Get Weak: Shoring Up a Slacking Leg

When you’ve been living with hand-me-down furniture and mismatched this and that, the first bits you buy yourself–even if they come from IKEA’s flat-pack heaven–can mean a lot. So it was that many years ago (at least 6–I don’t really feel like digging through my file boxes to find the receipts, so go with me on this one) I got my first glimpse at an IKEA and decided to snap up a table and chair set for my dining room at a really good price.

Jokkmokk table and chair set
image via IKEA.com

It survived the trip home from Atlanta, me putting it together all on my own (I also bought a spunky orange tool set on that trip–smart!), 2 moves and many parties. And after all of that it’s still going strong.

Well, all but one of the 4 chairs.

Broken chair leg
Oops!

It was just before the holidays got into full swing when Todd leaned back in his chair to hear an unfortunate cracking sound. Thankfully he did not end up sprawled on the floor–the crack had formed along the back/leg right where it angled in to meet the seat. By the time the holidays were over the crack had gone clear through the wood and it was in need of some serious repair.

Now, with most chairs this one long piece would be separate bits and we could just replace the one board and be done with it. Not so much with this piece, so we did the next best thing:

Gorilla Wood Glue
Our glue of choice, hoping the super-tough hold does

Half of having furniture–wooden or otherwise–is taking care of it when (or before) it breaks. To heal busted wood you need two things.

  1. Something to knit the fibers back together.
  2. Pressure to hold the fibers in place until such time as they’re strong again.

Basically, we’re wood doctors healing a broken bone. Instead of a plaster cast, though, we opted to use something a little different.

First we thought regular clamps would do, but the split was in a more-than-awkward spot for such a fix. Then Todd was going to use something called a pipe vise but we were short the needed pipe. What we did have was a strap usually used for tying down stuff in a trunk or truck-bed, it’s got a ratchet on it so can get very tight which is perfect for our needs.

Todd squeezing glue between the broken bits.
Todd squeezing glue between the broken bits.

First we put plenty of glue onto the break.

Tightening the ratchet strap to use as a vise.
Tightening the ratchet strap to use as a vise.

Then we secure it by tightening the strap as tight as possible to keep the glued pieces together.

Check the bottle of wood glue you’re using to see how long it’s supposed to take to dry and then leave it under pressure a little longer for safe keeping.

After that, if you want to reinforce the section with an extra screw into the wood above or below the break as insurance, it might not be a bad idea.

Ideally we would have caught it when it was just beginning to crack and fixed it then. Since we didn’t, we’ll take these steps and see what happens. Worst case scenario? I have a reason to go visit IKEA in Orlando.

At least it beats duck tape, right?

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