Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life.

Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life. Sunset at Telegraph Point.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Festive Season and Bar Stools - How To Repair a Broken Chair Back

Yes, I know what you are thinking, but no - it wasn't the result of intemperance.  Rather it was the accidental leaning-on-the-kitchen-bench and leaning backwards with the feet by one of the grandkids, that sent the stool crashing to the floor - with tragic consequences for the stool.

The spindles - sometimes known as bannisters - all snapped clean off, level with the seat.
And so ...... off to the workshop, and back to the woodwork.

The obvious solution was to find some matching timber and turn up some new spindles.  The original was made from a light coloured pine-like timber that had been given a golden stain.  I'm sure that I can find something to match from the wood cave.

Remaking The Back Of A Chair
First step is to round off the billet down to just a tad thicker than the widest part of the original.

Set the bead width near the middle and create the bead.

Taper from the bead back towards each end, and we are nearly there. Don't turn to final thickness yet in case the hole drilling goes astray and the holes are oversize.

The holes for the spindles are full of broken spindle ends and need cleaning out.

This tool is as ancient as it is useful.  No workshop should be without a hand brace and a set of augers.  No-one wants them anymore, so they are as cheap as chips at Sunday markets and garage/car boot (car trunk for our US cousins) sales.

They come in a variety of widths of the crank - the throw - the double of which is called the sweep.  This one has a small throw of around 3-1/2 to 4 inches.  So the crank, when wound, describes a circle of 7-8 inches - the sweep.  For tougher jobs there are braces with 10, 12 and even 14 inch sweeps.

These days we all use power drills, but there are times when a slow and precise re-drilling is needed

Re-drill the spindle holes in the seat.
I have chosen an auger bit that is slightly under the size of the original holes.  This leaves a small collar of residual timber that can be easily removed with a gouge.  Why not simply drill out all the waste in one hit - well, the auger bit may wander and the hole end up off centre.

The best gouge to use here is an incannel gouge, where the bevel is on the inside of the gouge and the curved back is straight all the way to the cutting edge.  This allows some precision in the gouge's use.
These two lovely gouges were made in Tasmania by Titan - one of Australia's best known and respected chisel makers from post World War 2.
Above, on the left - Titan incannel gouge, and on the right - Titan outcannel gouge.

Once all the holes in the seat have been cleaned out, it is time to tidy up the cresting rail.

All of the old dried glue has to be removed before the new spindles can be fitted.

The spindles are turned - down to the diameter of the originals - and then cut to length for fitting.

Here they are complete, except for final thicknessing and cutting to length.
The cleaned holes have exhibited some variations in diameter, so the spindles will be custom thicknessed to each hole.

The broken spindles are used as a length guide before final thicknessing and parting off.

I don't part off completely, but finish the job with a small saw.  This is a flush cut saw made by Veritas, but there are others.  It is useful because there is no set of the teeth on the left face of the saw blade, so it doesn't bind when cutting.

Fit the spindles and glue.
A coat of stain and a couple of coats of polyurethane, and we are done.



  1. Well I am hurt Tom!

    Guess that extra long tool rest just didn't suit your needs after all. ;(

    Well done on the chair repair may it prop up may a body.

    1. Ha ha Ray - It's there, I was just too lazy to change the smaller one. It would have meant walking 3 metres.
      Can't believe you spotted that!

  2. I can't believe you didn't use it Tom. Just think one small walk to retrieve it from the scrap bin would have saved you the number of times you had to move the banjo. LOL

    After all it was you who requested a longer rest.............or was that just a good holiday that you wanted LOL

    1. I did most of the work over at the woodies on the cougar lathe. It was my duty day and I was on the demos - The spindles were only re-mounted on my lathe to turn down the tapered ends.
      Thanks again Ray

  3. My uncle used to make and sell cheap bar stools from woods. I remember him with your post. Thanks.

  4. It is great to bring back happy memories and re-live them a little.

  5. That's a nice one. Informative and helpful post. Thanks for sharing