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.
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.
Secure 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’.