Sunday, July 11, 2010

How To Make Stephen Shepherd Say Bad Words

There is not one ounce of my being that likes to repair furniture.

But, there are two people to whom I will rarely say no, and they are my pastors. So, when our associate pastor asked if I would repair some loose rungs on her antique pew chair, of course I said yes.

I had hoped to be able to knock apart the chair enough that I could fox-wedge the tenons (see illustration), but the seat is caned and I didn't want to risk damaging it.

Looking for an easy solution, I posted on Facebook: Has anyone ever tried to shim loose chair tenons with tape (plus glue, of course) if you're not able to take the entire chair apart in order to fox-wedge the tenons?

A slew of suggestions for fixing the joints followed: plane shavings, toothpicks, linen cloth, cotton thread, and unwaxed brown paper as shims; 1/4" lag bolt; and polyurethane glue with gap-filling properties (see blog post title).

I opted for using plane shavings, which worked very well. I glued and wrapped each tenon with a thin strip of wood, filled the mortise with glue (oddly, there was no old glue in the mortises that needed to be removed), knocked the chair back together, and clamped it.

A few shaving fragments squeezed out of the mortises, but they were easy to pare away with a chisel.

After the chair was finished, my partner, thinking she had remembered the correct joinery term that I referred to earlier asked, "So, did you outfox the tenon?"

Only time will tell, Nancy. Only time will tell.

Stephen Shepherd, who wrote The Hide Glue Book (the definitive book on hide glue), eschews the use of modern glues for many reasons, one of which is that it makes future repairs very difficult. He saw my Facebook question this morning and wrote a blog post about the evils of using modern glue to build and repair furniture.

Well, I'm about to be added to Stephen's doo-doo list. Sorry, Stephen, I used Titebond III, because I do not have any hide glue and I'm lazy.

I did, however, take precautionary measures before gluing up the tenons in the hopes that the person in future who will need to re-repair the same rungs won't wish that my neck be wrung.