A plane repair for a wobbly chair
As the woodworker in my family, I've apparently also been designated the furniture repairman. The latest thing on my bench is a chair with a few loose legs and stretchers. One stretcher even pulls right out of its socket. How do I tighten the joints?
—Timothy Conner, Charlotte, N.C.
The first step, Timothy, is to carefully disassemble any loose joints. Use a spreader between the legs and slowly apply pressure to separate the tenons from the sockets, as shown above. Heat stubborn joints for a couple minutes with a heat gun or a hair-dryer set on high before trying the spreader again. Don't skip any suspect joints because they might be hard to access after you re-glue the others.
With the joints separated, clean any old glue from the tenon and the socket with sandpaper and files. Next, enlarge the tenons so they are once again snug in their sockets. To do this, glue and wrap them with hand-plane shavings, as shown below. After the glue dries, trim away any protruding shavings with a hobby knife and test fit the joint. If it's still too loose, apply another layer of hand-plane shavings. Too tight? Use sandpaper or a file to size it back down to a snug fit. Then reglue the joint.