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Does anybody here carpent?

  1. Dec 4, 2011 #1


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    I have had a rocking chair in my basement for 20 years gifted to my by my father that I've never been able to repair.

    Its top-back rail has split and is in just the wrong place to mend. I'd like to wrap it in leather or sinew then let it dry and shrink to hold fast. Problem is, the central spine is right where the split is. It's this kind:

    ...but the central pillar is about 3" wide. It's split at the chair's highest point.

    I'll take a pic and post it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2011 #2
    can't say i'm much of a carpenter, but i did repair an antique chair of my mother's a while back, putting in a new seat. afaik, those bent pieces are formed by steam heating the wood. this softens the lignins, and then you can wrap it around a mold and wait for it to cool and set. so it's not all that easy to replace. if it were me, i'd probably try getting one of those glues that the bowers use to attach a bamboo backing onto a bow, then hold the thing tight with some C-clamps over a pad like leather.

    sinew's an interesting idea. the material between the fibers even has a bit of adhesive property.
  4. Dec 5, 2011 #3
    That's a nice chair and it should be carpented.

    Carpenters don't actually carpent, though, just as butchers don't actually butch. Interestingly though, some "carpenters" are actually butchers.
  5. Dec 5, 2011 #4


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    You have to creative to repair chairs and their breaks.
    I have repaired half legs, seats, the pegs that go into seats from the spines, anywhere a break happens to be in the wrong place.
    Use laminates, hidden screws, glue, steel rods, etc..., matching veneer.
    Some repairs might look like a leg bone with the steel pins under x-ray.
    You might want to get a piece of steel rod 1/8 inch diameter (1/4 maybe) about 6 to 8 inch long, recess the rail to put the rod in, curve the rod, glue it, put wood splinter in the recess, venneer,...
    Taper the ends of the rod to eliminate a stress comcentration.
    Use instead of steel, a less rigid metal or fiberglass or graphite or another tough wood, and change the diameter or shape to suit the application - flat, square, round,

    Make sure you have some way to secure the rod to each piece of the rail so the rail does not seperate after repair - re-repairing will become exponentially more difficult.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  6. Dec 5, 2011 #5

    Chi Meson

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    I do a lot of carpentry; in fact, it is my secondary job and has been for 30+ years. If I were to go to work on your chair, it might end up looking like a kitchen add-on, or a bed loft. Maybe a deck.

    A good friend of mine who owns her own furniture repair business had mentioned a while back that split, bent wood is a nightmare. No repair will stay. The usual fix is to completely replace the broken piece and try to match the color
  7. Dec 5, 2011 #6


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    Good advice from Chi. Bent wood is a nightmare.

    If you can stand the appearance, wrapping the split in wet rawhide is actually a good choice. I mended a large crock for brewing beer using wet moose-hide. It was badly cracked, so I painted the cracks with epoxy and bound the crock with moose-hide. It served me well for many years.
  8. Dec 5, 2011 #7
    How do you get so little amount of stuff in so huge a space? :cry:
  9. Dec 5, 2011 #8


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    This would be fine. I've no problem with seeing the exposed rawhide Unfortunately, though I can wrap the split in rawhide OK, I would then have to cut it open lengthwise in order to make way for the central spine slotting in.
  10. Dec 5, 2011 #9


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    I do a bit of hobby wood working, mostly original work and not repairing, but I had a similar issue with an antique coffee table that I really liked. One of the interior planks had split and was exposed to water and became warped over time.

    I tried a few different solutions before I came to the following:

    - Dry out the wood as best as you can (I just kept it out of steamy locations for a while which meant taking it away from the living room which is connected to the kitchen and left it in the bedroom), this causes the wood to contract; it also makes it brittle so don't try to bend or work with it
    - Apply plenty of wood glue to the seam you're trying to repair; I used gorilla glue. (For my repair, the seam was purely "internal" to the table, so I was able to just remove the excess glue at the end... some glues don't look good with the wood and don't stain well.)
    - Soak it with some type of oil (I've heard that mayonnaise works well, but I used regular vegetable oil and just poured it over the top and rubbed it in the bottom)
    - Take two blocks that make the "form." (For me, it was a table, so I just used two flat pieces of hardwood on the top and bottom)
    - As the oil causes the wood to expand (faster than water would), apply a clamp to press the form together. Be sure that you don't accidentally glue the forms to the piece of furniture.
    - Every few minutes as more oil is soaked into the exposed wood crank the clamp a bit tighter (I have lots of Irwin quick clamps which have huge surface area and are great for this).

    When I was done, the split was invisible. After re-sanding and refinishing it the table looked great. Wood glue is usually stronger than wood, so it certainly won't split there again, but there's no guarantee the strain won't cause it to split elsewhere. It hasn't happened to my table, but I don't count it out. As a note, the stain seemed to flow more readily into the area I was working with (something to do with the oil; the stain I used is probably oleophilic) which caused a slightly different color tone in that area.

    Again, I was working with a flat surface, so it was easy for me to do this. Keeping the glue and the oil from touching was tricky, but possible.

    I got the trick from a friend's father who is a master carpenter. He doesn't do much furniture building but he uses this trick to repair antique window frames and door frames that have split.

    You results may vary, but it's just an idea.

    EDIT: As a side note, the real first step was to sand the urethane off. You need exposed wood for this.
  11. Dec 5, 2011 #10


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    BTW, if you have never before used Gorilla Glue, you need to try it out first on a "throw-away" project. That stuff is nasty. It swells, and it doesn't make a clean joint, except perhaps in some special conditions (that I have never experienced).
  12. Dec 5, 2011 #11


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    Dave, if you want to give it your best shot, here's what I'd try...

    1) open that crack so you can get epoxy into it.
    2) get epoxy into as much of the crack as you can.
    3) bind that repair with wet rawhide as tightly as you can, so that it tightens up when shrinking.
    4) be prepared to scrape/sand/refinish the wood after taking off the leather.

    You can use Elmer's wood glue instead, but that glue is a bit sensitive to humidity in the initial application...
  13. Dec 5, 2011 #12


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    There are several kinds of Gorilla Glue. There's the typical wood glue, which I guess is what would be used in this application.

    But there is also a cyanoacrylate ("super glue"), an epoxy, and an isocyanate (polyurethane). Be sure you know which one you're using...these adhesives are made for different applications.
  14. Dec 5, 2011 #13


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    Gorilla Glue, or Gorilla wood glue. I should've specified to use the Gorilla wood glue. I haven't experienced your problem.
  15. Dec 5, 2011 #14


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    If you aren't concerned with keeping it in original condition (i.e., wrapping it with sinew), maybe you could make a small, padded cover for the top. Since it would be covered, you could bolt two pieces of wood on either side of the break. Just a thought.
  16. Dec 5, 2011 #15
    Is carpent even a word (yes, I know what you mean, though)?
  17. Dec 5, 2011 #16


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    This might actually be a viable solution.

    Wife suggested
    1] using a sinew
    and also
    2] a padding along the rim
    Maybe I should listen to her more. (it was actually a gift from my father to her)
  18. Dec 5, 2011 #17


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    Maybe. Don't know.

    I like to play with words.
  19. Dec 5, 2011 #18
    There are "wood butchers" too which can involve everything including a bit of sculpting. Often taking the funkiest and otherwise most useless pieces of wood and turning them into something both functional and beautiful. Not quite traditional carpentry, and not quite sculpture or architecture either.
  20. Dec 5, 2011 #19
    I thought you were joking, but there are actually people who call themselves "woodbutchers":

    http://woodbutcher.hypermart.net/ [Broken]

    I think that's an unfortunate name for what they do.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  21. Dec 5, 2011 #20
    well, it ain't exactly art. i met a guy many moons ago, when i once had a second line put in to keep the phone free when on dialup. and besides doing phone service full time, he had a business on the side where he cut out these wooden plywood reindeer that folks park on their lawn in december. it was all automated. might have even been laser cut, but my memory fades. but anyhoo, somewhere around 70k a year in seasonal income in 1995 dollars. no bad for kitsch.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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