Thursday, June 30, 2016

Repairing a Broken Arm on an Armchair

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Armchair with broken arm.
Image by Chuck Wiesner
When an arm on an armchair breaks, it can seemingly be problematic, but with the right tools and a bit of ingenuity even a broken arm on an armchair can be repaired.

When this Victorian period armchair arrived in our shop with a broken arm, our restoration specialist took this on as a welcomed challenge. It's not everyday that a project of this precision walks through the door!

Arms are particularly challenging to repair for a number of reasons, including the fact that most arms are fitted using wooden dowels. Although cracked and broken, it was lucky for our customer that most of the original pieces from the arm remained, and could be reused in the repair.

First, the broken dowels were removed that were sticking out of the back of the chair leaving the holes for new dowels of the same diameter.

Images by Charles Wiesner

Next, the arm itself needed mending. First, the small broken pieces of the arms that remained were glued into place using a wood glue and epoxy. After the broken pieces dried, a sculpting epoxy was applied to fill in and recreate the missing wood pieces. After drying, the sculpting epoxy was sanded.

Images by Charles Wiesner
After sanding the repaired arm, a stain was applied to the epoxy filler first. It's important to stain the filler first in order for it to deepen in color. After staining the filler, the end of the arm was stained and color-matched to match the existing finish.

The repaired arm. Image by Charles Wiesner

The arm was then remounted using glue and new dowels. With some ingenuity, it is possible to repair a broken arm on an armchair.  It can often be difficult, but when executed properly it's a fix no one will ever notice.

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