Reworking antique chairs requires to reglue old joints, stretchers and mortises/joints. Often the joints are loose and they cannot be shortened so fit tightly. It requires a glue which fills the voids and strengthen the chair joints. Which glue to take? PVA or epoxy or PU?
Answer and hints are very welcome!
West System's Epoxy,with the powder they sell with it,brilliant for repairs you require.
Are these truly antiques--unique, 75-100+ years old, valuable? Or, are they just old chairs that you want to make serviceable?
If they have some monetary value and are truly antiques, then you want to use a glue that is consistant with the original and that can be reversed. That would mean using a hot hide glue. But, it also means that proper techiques must be used to tighten the joints first. Hide glue requires tight joints however, new hide glue will dissolve existing hide glue in the joint so complete clean out is not necessary.
If they are mearly old and you want to restore them, then I recommend slow set, two part epoxy. It is the only adhesive that is gap filling so real tight joints are not required. Cleaning all the old glue out of the joint is the best way to assure a long lasting joint. Epoxy glue is basically forever so the joint will last a much longer time than hide glue. Hide glue is very brittle and the natural working of a chair as it is used tends to quickly cause the hide glue to fail. It's the reason so many old chairs need repairs.
The chairs are about 100 years old, Shaker stile, but European. They are valuable, but not extraordinary. There are 10I believe hide glue is to brittle and before application the joints cannot be tightened.
Epoxy is difficult to remove, so it seems, so it can be reworked only once.
So is PVA, but less gap filling. PVA has a little elasticity, which is good, epoxy not. Maybe the slow setting type has. I need to look at the specs. Maybe I am wrong, but I do'nt know better to argue.Thank you for the hints.I wonder, what the professional restaurateurs use.Thanks again.
The professionals us both types of glue.question of which is appropriate at the time.
You said you needed filling properties,hence epoxy.
Couple of points.
While not as easy to open a joint glued with epoxy, it can be done by the application of heat quite easily.
Slow set, two part epoxy has quite a bit of elasticity. In the shop I was involved with, all the chairs we made were glued with epoxy. In many shops epoxy is all that is used on chairs as the risk of failure is reduced. Chairs take the most abuse and stress of any type of furniture.Howie.........
Thank you for your remarks. I agree and as I mentioned earlier, two part epoxy keeps some elasticity, which I figure is good.
Most of the joints are round, which makes easier to repair if epoxy is used. Yet the chair needs to be taken apart.
I agree, a chair is the most abused piece of furniture and most of the joints are subjected to a sheer stress. At least the stretchers need another construction. But this is to fundamental.
For the time being, I try to get enough hide glue into the joins, probably by warming carefully the joint so the glue keeps flowing.
Also the viscosity of freshly mixed epoxy can be decreased considerably by applying heat, but one has to be careful heating it, because at elevated temperature the epoxy cures very fast. It may be an alternative to hide glue, but more difficult to remove.
I opt for hot hide glue over epoxy for a couple reasons.
First, it's what was used originally, and I like to maintain or restore antiques, and not rework them (personal opinion).
Second, while the bad news about hide glue is that it isn't permanent, the good news is that it isn''t permanent. If something were to break or need adjusting, hide glue can be softened or removed; epoxy is less forgiving. Imagine trying to drill out a broken tenon from an epoxied joint, versus heating and removing the same from a hide glue joint. That's a practical point, not a personal opinion!
In my mind the question is not what a professional restorer would do, but whether you are interested in best practices or a hack job.
Best practice would be to dissassmble the chair, repair the joints with wood "fills" and reassemble with hot hide glue. There is no "gap filling". To restore is to put back, not fill up with plastic.
The key to long lasting furniture isn't superb joinery or glues with superior strength, but building for future repairs. If you lock up one joint today, you will lose the ability to disassemble in the future. In this instance, the epoxy repair is actually decreasing the life of the chair.
I'll pile on with Adam. Veneer or wood slivers can tighten any gaps, and the hot hide glue will work well.
To disasseble the chair, the seat needs to be cut and therefore cannot be reused. A new woven seat costs $100.- to $200.- , so the rerepair is almost beyond scope. But maybe the chairs will hold up and become even more valuable. I will ask the custumer to decide.
I agree, hide glue is the good joice. Woodfiller is usually epoxy based. Epoxy as a glue will last longer, but not forever. But I think in toto it is the best joice.
Thanks for your discussion!
I must say I am getting confused. (so what's new?) Can you post a picture of a chair. I can't quite visualize why the seat would need cutting. Which joints are loose? And, what is the material used to weave the seats?
By the way, I'm pretty sure that when Adam said wood fills, he meant small pieces of wood, not the commercial putty like product called wood filler.
If you lock up one joint today, you will lose the ability to disassemble in the future. .. YEP!I use to use a HYPO and needles.. Tiny drills (I have many for metal working) and hot hide glue.. DAMN! I can't get them anymore! My family Dr. died..Worked GREAT!
Without removing the seat, I cannot disassemble the chair, since the seat is woven into the chair. Without disassembling the chair, I cannot bring in chips to fasten the joints.
However injecting hide glue into the joints without disassembling may help for a while, I maybe quite a while. A more drastic repair can be done later.
I will propose it, showing the discussion.
There are 26 joints for each chair ( 2 stretchers on each side, 4 rails for the seat, 3 rails for the backslat, 10 chairs). So injecting seems to be a good idea. Thank you!
If you wish, I can send you some hypodermic needles, if you ran out of them. Which size do you use?
I post a picture later.
may help for a while, I maybe quite a while.
Have fixed more than a with hide glue.. I figgue when I'm dead nobody to complain to!
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