It’s easy to bewail the current norm of “disposable furniture.” A flat-pack desk or shelf is purchased and lasts just a couple of years in a dorm room or office, only to be dragged to the curb when the back pops out or the drawer bottoms sag. In the past, this kind of wastefulness was unheard of. Objects were repaired and kept in use, often for centuries. It’s great fun to discover clever and unique repair solutions in old furniture.

Take the example of this ladderback rocker. My guess is that the lower rear rung was a weak point and must have come loose periodically, so an ingenious (and mostly hidden) application of twisted wire under that rung was tightened to pull the back posts together. The tensioned wire was secured by a single small screw through the center of the twist and into the rung.

This wire was painted green with the rest of the chair many decades ago, and the repair is holding strong. 

Here's another example. This 19th-century New Hampshire rocker is in need of several repairs, the most pressing being the proper-left-rear post which is fractured at the arm rest.

This is obviously a weakness in this particular chair design, but the other post has already been repaired in a way that greatly increases the strength of the area while blending seamlessly with the lines of the chair. A split sleeve of brass (or possibly bronze) was shaped to fit over the broken post, and the area of the post where the sleeve fits was slightly relieved, so the brass piece fits nicely within the post. I’m definitely duplicating this repair on the broken side.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when keeping your furniture (and other wooden objects) holding up for the future. Done well, these creative repairs add to the beauty and uniqueness of the piece, and seeking to make things last offers a strong counterpunch to a whole dumpster load of pressboard furniture.




Would you like email notifications of our daily blog posts? Sign up below...