Chair Repair - Re-poang

Hello and welcome to the first (and hopefully not penultimate) entry into my 'theoretical workshop' where I, a not very practical humanoid, take you through my attempts to be practical.

Today (or rather yesterday and a little bit of this morning) I repair a chair.


This is PoƤng: a chair (perhaps unsurprisingly) from Ikea (perhaps also unsurprisingly). I recently bought two of these and here follows a picture of the leg of one of them.

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, perhaps unsurprising. Indeed as I was putting it together I thought to myself 'My, isn't that an odd place to drill a hole half the width of the wood: on the point that takes all of the load?'

In Ikea's defence it does clearly state in the manual that you should tighten up the bolts every month, the lack of which I believe led to this. Nevertheless, I'd call a chair that requires constant maintenance to dissuade breakage, ill designed.

Unfortunately this has lead to a certain distrust with these chairs, compounded only by Ikea's "Replace or Repair, not Refund" policy. And so with my other chair propped up on a selection of books, I set about repairing this chair but with a twist: Proper Legs.

Knolling, plans and bonus shadow puppets.

And so having sourced some leg-like wood from an old bed frame and pillaged my dad's shed for tools (I being the only member of my immediate family not to take naturally to practical work affords me a wide variety of tools), I made plans, stuck some 'Oingo Boingo' songs on in the background, and got to work; remembering of course to lay down a dust sheet. This is a theoretical workshop, not a proper one I can sweep up afterwards.

Front legs, set square (<3), a pencil and some old shoes.

I began with the front legs, marking out where holes should go, measuring their positions with a set square (which is my new favourite tool, by the way) and planning ahead to use as many of the old bolts and salvageable wood pieces as possible.

Franken-leg and Pinocchio.

The front legs would be attached to the chair frame by a simple metal dowel as per the original design (because who needs tight, precise fixings, eh?).

More awkward was firstly drilling 10mm holes for the existing dowelling on the salvaged brace connecting the two legs, and secondly the 6mm through-hole for the peculiarly long bolt which clamps the brace to the legs. Fortunately drilling through both sides of the wood with precise measurements and ensuring the drill was at right-angles to the wood (from two linearly independent views, as per linear algebra) made for a clean entry and exit without the need for an absurdly long drill-bit.

Wow, that almost sounded like I knew what I was talking about.

Corey Taylor's failed 'Folk Mask', and an inappropriately positioned chair.

Having impressed a 16mm hole with a (ridiculously lethal-looking) spade bit for the heads of the bolts to fit in (and so the bolts actually reached through the wood =P) it became time to attach the front legs to the chair frame.

To my surprise, they didn't fall off. This called for a celebration.


With dinner over, I began work on the back legs. Pretty much the same procedure as before only I'd have to cut the legs to size from a larger piece of wood and drill a through-hole for the bolt to attach them to the chair itself (no lazy metal dowels here).

Wood on wood.

I cut them to size, sanded off the edges, and marked out the hole positions. And this, lads and gentlewomen, is why you measure twice. In the picture above the two lines were supposed to match up. It turns out that reading 39.5cm as 29.5cm instigates quite the difference. So I remeasured, drilled holes, and affixed it as with the front legs, salvaged brace and all.

Perfect, it's done. What's next?

With the legs attached and flapping about like a drunken donkey, it was clear I needed to attach front-to-back (or back-to-front, although that sounds like I've done it wrong) braces. Only I'd run out of braces. Or had I?


Time to enact some revenge on the old chair legs. Salvaging the straight floor-touching parts of the legs I endeavoured to repurpose them into braces, to be attached with small metal brackets to the front and back legs. This required screws.

Fun fact: The screws did in fact smell of mint.

Having determined that these screws wouldn't poke through the ends of the thin salvaged wood, I went to measuring where the braces ought to go on the legs with my trusty set-square by my side (and front, back, other side, usually hands, etc.)

Intimate angles and hot, between-leg action.

Originally I simply picked up four of the first brackets I could find in the shed: Thin, L-shaped brass brackets (left). In time these proved too flexible for the fixing and so I replaced them with sturdier, two-screws-abreast, steely-looking brackets (anti-left) (that's the technical term).

Then 'twas simply a matter of attaching the braces and seeing how it worked.

It looks good, until you realise it was supposed to be a wardrobe.

Well, it turned out. The final stage was to add arms for further front-to-back support and... well, arms. Here is where I took my first and only piece of advice. Originally the plan was to attach the top non-splintered parts of the existing arms as they were on the old chair to the new legs. This would have been an awkward attachment and impeded guitar-wielding.

My brother, being the clever, practical bonce he is, simply flipped the arms upside-down and said 'how about that'? Well, about that: it was great. They taper to the end, add support, and attach much easier. All that was required was a small angled-block to attach the front to. This I cut from a small piece of scrap pine with a terrible dull-bladed hacksaw.

Fun fact: I pressed the 'take picture' button for this photo with my nose.

Then 'twas simply a matter of screwing these braces onto the front legs, cutting the new arms to size (and/or removal of deadly splinters) and screwing them in. The top part of the arm was arched and I couldn't be bothered to make a wooden support between the back legs and the arm, so I just crammed it with cardboard. Blame my brother, it was his idea.

By strange coincidence the arms and legs form a graph, the brace-axis denoting time through this build, and the leg-axis denoting the extent of my back pain.

And that was it. I sat in it and it neither collapsed nor wobbled, which is two up on Ikea!

"Look, for the last time, twins don't have to be identical!"

So here it is, next to it's floppier, bibliophilic brother. It does look a little like a chair you'd find in a care home, but it serves purpose and doesn't smell of urine.

So there you have it, my first proper practical build. If you think you could have done it better or if I made a very, very silly mistake in the process, please do tell me, I'm trying to learn after all. 

Also if you'd like to see me work on anything in particular in future I'm open to suggestions. The next, and currently ongoing, project should be my attempts to make a plush of the Final Fantasy creature 'Tonberry' of which two prototypes have been thus-far cobbled. Hence this isn't all about woodworking, it would include fabric-work, prop replication, electronics, little upgrade projects and such. It's all very open.

Right, I need to hoover up and rest my back.
Be seeing you!

Bonus Bits:

This is why you should use a dust sheet. Dust. Should've guessed, really.

My completion reward.

My ongoing motivation: newly acquired music from the 70s and 80s
(because I'm modern like that).