Minor Repair to Hepplewhite Chair

Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in Blog | No Comments

The Break

Although it is not my main line of work I am occasionally asked to repair antiques and I have a City and Guilds qualification in furniture restoration.

Yesterday I worked on this nice Herpplewhite style mahogany dining chair. It looked like an original rather than one of the common Edwardian copies. It had certainly seen many repairs over the years, fortunately most were very good repairs. The problem I had to deal with was a broken crest rail. A fairly straight forward job.

It looked like the rail had been repaired before as there was evidence of previous gluings. The glue residue needed to be removed to ensure good adhesion when I reglued it. The surfaces were wetted with warm water to soften the glue for removal. Wetting made some of the residues go white, indicating a recent repair using PVA.


Picking off the glue residue.

The residues were removed using a scalpel point and chisel, being careful not to change the profile of the break.

The piece was then offered up to the break and dry clamped to ensure a good join could be obtained. Repairs to quality antiques should always be made using animal glue. Two main reasons; the original glue  used when the piece was made would have been animal glue and because animal glue is reversible so  the joint can be parted should further repairs be needed. As a restorer there is nothing more annoying than finding you cannot effect a repair because certain joints cannot be parted because of the use of modern glues.

Animal glue is prepared in a glue pot consisting of an outer water pot and an inner glue pot. The glue is melted by heating the outer pot. The glue should be diluted with water until the hot glue runs off the brush (or stick) in a continuous stream rather than dribbling or falling in lumps. You have more gluing time if the parts are warmed before hand as the glue hardens on cooling.


The glue should run in a continuous stream.

The glue was applied and the break assembled and lots of clamps were thrown at it!


That should be enough clamps!

After the clamps were taken off the next day the glue squeeze out was removed, the parts lightly rubbed down with fine abrasive and re-waxed. I think the result was quite satisfactory, but I would say that wouldn’t I.


The repair completed

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Thankyou, Chris.


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