Furniture Repair, like most skills can be done by anyone. So what is the key for doing a good repair at home and how do you know when to tackle a DIY repair? Let's get the obvious key to a good repair out of the way first.
1) Experience. If you have done it several times or at least a few, that is really helpful.
2) The 2nd key, and in my view maybe the most important is having the right tools. Most people can look at damaged piece and see what the issue is and what needs to be put back together. Doing it, is a different ball game. As you can see in this picture of a chair repair many joints were loose and it was damaged in several places. You also notice several different types of clamps.
With out those clamps it would be impossible to put this chair back together properly from a structural and aesthetic standpoint. The joints would not all go back together properly leaving gaps and compromised joints. Once the glue sets up, you are pretty much stuck with the result. You will have plenty of filling to do and that itself is another skill that takes some repetition to do properly.
3) The right glue. You need a good wood glue for joints rather than a "super glue." Tight Bond wood glue from the major box stores works great. The super glue or CA glue like we use has its place for things like repairing chipped pieces of wood or when clamps just can't be used because of where the damage is located, but not recommended for structural repairs. It dries too fast (before you get everything in right position) and it is harder and more brittle causing it to crack ad break loose at joints the will have more stress put on them.
Now that we have discussed a few of the keys to a good repair, how do you know when you should tackle it? I would like this to be informative and cautionary, but not discouraging. DIY is GREAT! and we are happy to assist by answering questions to help you out, just give us a call at 256-714-6664, no charge for advice!
1) Do you have the time? If you need to do it in a hurry, may be best to hire the job out. Especially if you do not consider yourself experienced, things will go south in a hurry if you don't have time to read a couple articles like this one and watch a YouTube video or two.
2) How important is the piece to you? If it is just something functional that has no real sentimental or high monetary value to you, you are probably safe to give it a go. And really, that is the best kind to gain some experience if you don't have it already.
3) It may cost more to re-do a failed repair than hiring it out to begin with. Also, the professional repair may not be able to be as high quality as it would have been the first attempt. We certainly won't make you feel bad for trying, but chiseling out dried glue that didn't end up where it needed to be and filling gaps is not as ideal as a good, tight, and flush repair on the first attempt.
I hope this helps on your next project in the quality that your turn out or the choice you make on DIY vs hiring a professional. Keep us in mind if you have any questions or would like estimates on repairs and refinishing. Here at New Life Refinishing we love the DIYers and get almost as much joy helping them get it right as we do "knocking it out of the park" for you in our shop. Good luck and have fun!