Repairing Furniture

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair    by: ITC

At one time most furniture was made of wood. Today many furniture items are made of other materials such as various kinds of plastic. In any case, it is usually less expensive to repair or refinish a piece of furniture than it is to replace it. Outdoor furniture probably gets more wear and tear than indoor furnitur’e, but it is often easy to repair. Sometimes a few minutes of your time will extend the life of a chair or table.

Besides normal wear and tear, hot, dry air can cause wooden furniture to shrink and come apart. The four most common furniture problems are:

• Wood shrinkage

• Warping

• Worn seating

• Scrapes and scratches

If table or chair legs begin to come unglued, finish knocking them apart with a soft wooden block and a mallet. Remove old glue with a dull knife or hook scraper and sandpaper. Scrape glue out of the holes, too. Remove only the old glue. If you sand off any wood, the joints will be too loose.

Use white vinyl glue and reassemble the chair or table. Wipe up any spills or runs before they dry. Then, with rope or a webbed clamp, clamp the legs in place until the glue dries.

A warped table top can be straightened. Warping is caused by uneven drying. First strip off the paint and varnish. Paint remover is dangerous. Wear rubber gloves and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Next soak the wood by piling wet newspaper, wet sawdust, or wet towels on top for four or five days. When the wood is soaked through, remove the newspaper, sawdust, or towels and place weights or clamps on the warped boards. When everything is clamped or weighted down, leave it in a warm dry room for a few days. Move the clamps each day to help the wood dry evenly and prevent cracking.

As soon as the boards have dried straight, refinish BOTH SIDES to keep more moisture from entering or leaving the wood.

This method will not straighten laminated wood. Wait until the weather changes and the laminated piece will straighten by itself. When it does, glue another piece of scrap laminate on the underside. It will remain straight.

A kitchen chair seat or back is held on with only two or four screws. The cushion is usually made of foam or cotton batting covered with cloth or plastic folded over a piece of plywood. Replace old cotton batting with foam cut to size. Polyfoam is softer and lasts longer than cotton batting without getting lumpy or hard.

Cane bottom chairs can be modernized and made more comfortable by removing the cane part of the seat. Cover the seat with a cushion of plywood, polyfoam and a cover of plastic or cloth.

To fix a small scratch on furniture use a crayon-like touchup stick. They come in various shades to match different finishes. Sometimes iodine or shoe dye will work too. If the crack is deep, fill with wood putty. When it dries, rub stick shellac over the area. Stick shellac is applied with a spatula knife heated over an alcohol lamp. Finally, rub with felt or fine steel wool. Sometimes toothpaste will rub out fine scratches

Fill deeper scratches and gouges with wood putty. Cover with stick shellac. Finally rub it down with a felt pad or extra fine steel wool.

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