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Do It Yourself: Techniques help repair your wood furniture

Q. Our dining-room chairs have backs made of spindles that fit into sockets in the seats. Over the years the backs on several chairs have become loose and can be easily wiggled.

If I pull hard on the back, the spindles will come part way out of the sockets, but not all the way. I don’t want to break anything or take the backs apart. How can I fix this?

A. Here is a technique that will work with many loose wood furniture parts, including legs and arms. If you can, wiggle them out of their sockets far enough to expose some bare wood. With these spindles, of course, you want to get bare wood on the ends where they fit into the sockets. You will need good woodworking glue like Titebond, a small artist’s brush to apply the glue, and, for best results, a rubber mallet. Wiggle the spindles out as far as you can without pulling them all the way.

Put a little of the glue on a piece of cardboard and brush it on just the bare wood at the ends of the spindles. Use only a thin film of glue, spread all the way around the spindle ends. Next, use the rubber mallet to force the spindles back into their sockets, tapping sharply on the upper panel of the chair back.

If you don’t have a mallet, make a thick pad from a towel and tap with a block of wood, using the towel as a buffer. It is important to get the spindles firmly seated back in their sockets. Use a clean, damp rag to immediately wipe up any excess glue. Let the re-glued joints dry for at least 24 hours before using the chair.

If wood spindles are loose but you can’t expose bare wood, you might be able to dribble a little Chair-Loc into the joint to tighten it. Chair-Loc is a liquid that causes wood to swell; it is sold at some home centers, hardware stores and on the Internet. Some Chair-Loc kits include a syringe to inject the liquid.

If neither of the above methods works, you might have to either disassemble the joints entirely to re-glue, or inject glue into the joints with a hypodermic-like glue injector.

If you disassemble joints, label each piece to be sure of getting it back into the same socket, and scrape off old glue before re-gluing.

If you would prefer to use glue injection, you need to drill tiny holes into the wood to reach the joint with the injection needle. Glue injectors are available from Woodcraft ( and other Internet woodworking suppliers. Prices start at about $5 for a simple injector. The needle holes are filled with a Blend-Fil wood-putty stick or other wood putty that matches the finish.

Q. There are several chips in our bathroom sink, which is a beige color that matches the other fixtures. The fixtures were all made by American Standard. Is it possible to repair the sink and match the color?


A. You should be able to get a rather close match for the beige color with a product called Porc-a-Fix. This is a touch-up glaze that is very popular with do-it-yourselfers and many pros. Included in the Porc-a-Fix line is a color called fawn beige, which was used by American Standard for bath fixtures.

Many home centers and hardware stores have sold Porc-a-Fix products for years and some of them might have that color in stock. If not, you can view the list of available colors by visiting You can contact Fixture-Fix if you have questions, by email or telephone, and there is a link to DPF Plumbing, where the color packages are listed and where you can place a mail order. The fawn beige package costs about $25.

Read the instructions for cleaning and preparing the chips before attempting the repair.

If the chip is too deep to be filled with one coat of glaze, let the first coat dry and add another coat. Repeat the coats until the chipped area is flush with the surrounding surface. Give the repairs the final drying time specified in the instructions before using the sink.

Some do-it-yourselfers say they have made nearly invisible repairs to chips with this product, but I think a lot depends on getting the correct color match and following the directions carefully.

Questions and comments should be emailed to Gene Austin at Send regular mail for Gene Austin to 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422.