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Don’t Ditch, Fix: Replacing Broken Furniture Dowels


We have two simple dining room chairs that match the drop leaf table in our dining room. One chair recently broke – like in half. The chair is constructed using dowels that connect two pieces of wood. These chairs are over 60 years old, so naturally they’re bound to give out. This doesn’t mean that they needed to be replaced…the chairs that is. We just needed to replace the dowels, which only cost a couple dollars.

Think of it like Furniture Surgery

If you came across a similar furniture situation, you may consider adding a metal brace. That would be a better solution for a crack in a solid piece of wood like in the mod bench I repaired last summer.  When there is a break in the joint construction, you need to treat it like surgery where a pole is inserted into the bone. This is a physics thing. And since I went to art school, that’s all I’ll say on that subject.

How to Replace Broken Furniture Dowels

Now, you could get lucky and the old, broken dowels will just pop out.

broken Dowels drill

Or you could take a wrench and yank them out. But, if you’re like me, and your chair is old, you’re going to have to drill them out.

Sometimes you can take a 1/8″ drill bit, drill into the center of your broken dowel and then force it out like a wine cork. For my chair, however, I had to drill every last bit of dowel wood out of the existing dowel hole.

Once you get the old dowels removed, flush out all the saw dust. Then add a couple drops of wood glue in all the dowel holes.

EORDowels_glueSecure the dowels on the holes. You should not need to hammer them in – maybe a little tapper-oo, but by all means the dowel should not be so tight that you have to whack it. That could crack your furniture.

Insert all the dowels on one side of the furniture piece, then lower the other side down onto the dowels.


The Bigger Picture

This project should take no more than a half hour and cost around $3 for the wooden dowel pins. That’s a minor trade-off for salvaging a chair that would cost at least $100 to replace. Next. This project will give you a great sense of accomplishment because, yes,you just reduced waste, saved money and improved your home, DIY style. You’ve got to figure, if the previous dowels lasted 60 years, these chair are set to out live me! A tiny bit of my legacy was made this weekend. Just sayin’.


It took it upon myself to reupholster both of my chairs while I was working on them. Reupholstering is an easy way to freshen up a room in an hour’s time.

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16 Responses to Don’t Ditch, Fix: Replacing Broken Furniture Dowels

  1. Evelyn Kelly September 21, 2013 at 5:50 am #

    Great tips on reusing broken things. All these ideas sound brilliant. In my home, I also have some broken furniture dowels. Therefore, for them I will surely implement your tips.

    • Eve September 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

      Thanks! I’m so glad this was helpful!

  2. wicker outdoor furniture October 2, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    useful tips… for broken furniture… I will keep this page for further information… thanks for sharing the ideas

  3. Mebel Jepara October 7, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    I also have some broken furniture dowels.All these ideas sound brillian

  4. UV Furniture repair Kissimmee Florida February 14, 2014 at 1:37 am #

    Preserve that history on you furniture by restoring it, for it to last a life time.

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    The general shape and finish of the furniture you buy should be something that will be stylish for many many years. Don’t buy something just because it is the latest trend or fad, because you will need to replace it in a short period of time. Traditional finishes will also stand the test of time longer than something that has been made specifically for a current trend. The shape of your furniture should also be considered, because odd shapes or silhouettes will soon become outdated as well.

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  7. Kamar Set Minimalis December 5, 2014 at 4:20 am #

    I was excited to find this website. I need to to thank you for
    your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff in your site

  8. Notting Hill Handyman Ltd. August 25, 2015 at 5:59 am #

    It is really cheaper to fix the chair not to buy a new one. Almost everyone could do it at home. I recently repaired two chairs in my mom`s house. It was easy job. Thank you for sharing this article. Best regards!

    • Eve August 25, 2015 at 9:16 am #

      Thank you for sharing. Yes, it’s so much cheaper and really isn’t a difficult undertaking. I’m so glad you were able to make the needed repairs!

  9. Darryl September 23, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    my dowel is metal. How do I do this one?

    • Eve September 24, 2015 at 10:17 am #

      Hi Darryl, I do not have first hand experience with a metal dowel – are you saying a metal dowel broke?

  10. dokter December 11, 2015 at 2:35 am #

    I like the post format as you create user engagement in the complete article. It seems round up of all published posts. Thanks for gauging the informative posts.

  11. Erica January 9, 2016 at 5:33 am #

    Great tip to save a chair. It would be a shame to replace the whole thing when a simple fix will do!

  12. Ron Pickle September 7, 2017 at 12:09 am #

    Completely loved this DIY on repairing furniture, something I never tried before. Being a roofer, I have repaired roof all my life but always in awe of furniture guys, completely amazed at their skill and talent, now I will definitely try my hand at this using the tips you gave.

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