Do It Yourself Repair: Troubleshooting Common Wood Furniture Problems

Many common wood furniture repairs can be done simply and easily at home. Find out what types of repairs you can do yourself.

There are several different problems that can befall a wood furniture piece, but to keep your furniture for as long as possible, get repairs done immediately after noticing that there's a problem. Some of these problems could be minor, such as a loose leg on a wooden table. These repairs can be done at home simply by looking to see what type of hardware was used and tightening it. If it's a screw, you can just tighten it up some with a screwdriver, but if it's a nut and bolt assembly, you might need a certain size of socket or wrench for tightening. If the screw or nut has been stripped, it might be necessary to place a small piece of wood over the previous hole and insert a new screw and/or nut.

Another minor repair which you can probably do at home is a splintered portion of a table or chair. Sometimes this is right at the edge of the piece and requires just a little putty and some stain. After removing any protruding wood pieces or splinters, apply the wood putty and let dry. Sand slightly if necessary, then stain and finish the area. This method isn't very suitable for repairing splintered legs on a wooden furniture piece. Often the leg will have to be replaced, meaning all four legs would have to be replaced, unless the replacement leg is an exact match for the damaged one.

Many chemicals can eat the finish off of a piece of furniture. Nail polish remover is one chemical which is often accidentally the cause of finish damage. After using nail polish remover, then setting it on a dresser or night stand, the liquid can run down the bottle and damage the wood finish. Some people find it easier to refinish the entire dresser top than to attempt to refinish a small portion of the top. To refinish the entire top, use a commercial stripper but check the label to see that it is appropriate for that particular type of wood. After stripping the top, stain with one or two coats, then add lacquer. It's important when stripping only one area, to have an exact match on the stain color. Most stores which sell stain have small paper color charts which you can take home to compare with the color of the furniture, to help you select the best match.

Some furniture problems have more to do with their hardware than the furniture itself. For example, a table with a leaf or leaves in it can be aggravating when you try to pull the two table pieces apart, or push them together. Often they'll stick and it's nearly impossible to position them to accommodate the leaves. Mineral oil, baby oil or a spray lubricant can take care of this problem. After finally getting the table to open up as far as possible, oil the slide mechanisms inside and out. Slide the table together and pull it back apart several times to work the oil in. This treatment will prevent the table from sticking for a long time to come.

Desk chairs and similar pieces often encounter problems with the wheels. For stiff wheels or wheels which no longer turn, remove the wheel and clean it, along with the part of the chair where the wheel is attached. Check the wheel itself for hair or other intrusions, then oil the wheel assembly and reattach. Chairs sometimes have slats in the back which come loose. To fix this, turn the slat as far as you can twist it, then apply wood glue to the chair at the top and at the bottom of the slat. Turn the slat back into position and wipe off any excess glue. Allow chair slat to dry thoroughly.

For desk drawers which stick, remove the drawer completely, apply wax or oil to the bottom of the drawer where it slides into the compartment, then slide it in and out several times. This should lubricate the drawer enough to allow it to slide easily in and out. There comes a time when many wood pieces have seen their day and it's time to let them go, but until then, make wood furniture repairs as quickly as possible to prevent further damage.

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