Repair a Wobbly Chair with Loose Rungs

A beginner’s tutorial…..

When a great chair comes your way, don’t discount it because it is wobbly or has loose rungs. Even missing rungs can easily be replaced if the part was a simple dowel. I’ll show you how to do it on this sweet child’s chair that I found at a recent auction. This is how I found it:


All the chair parts are here except for the front rung. I like the distressed finish, the shape and the color. Usually, a chair like this can be won for just a few dollars. All I need to make the chair solid and strong again is: Elmer’s Glue, a damp cloth to wipe off excess glue, a couple of pieces of short dowel, a longer piece of dowel to replace the missing rung and some macrame cord. You will also need a 3/8″ spade bit and a drill if any of the holes has a broken off rung wedged inside or if the hole is filled with old glue. You will use the short pieces of dowel and the macrame cord over and over again on other projects once you see how easy it is to save a chair. Macrame cord can be found in craft shops or it can be purchased here.

Okay, let’s get to work.

IMG_0404The chair had piece of rung still adhering to the leg, so I used my 3/8″ spade bit in my drill to clean out the hole. Go slow so that you don’t go all the way through the chair leg! I’ve done that.


Measure and cut the length of dowel you will need if you are replacing a missing rung. Then fill both holes with glue and insert the dowel.


Wrap a length of macrame cord around the legs twice and tie the ends together. Position it so it is near the newly glued joints.

IMG_0410Stick one of the short pieces of dowel between the macrame cord and start to twist it around, using the short dowel piece as a tool. The tension tightens the newly glued legs like a vise.

IMG_0411Let one of the rungs act as a brace to hold the dowel securely.


Next, I need to fix the long split in the seat of the chair so I ran a bead of Elmer’s Glue along the crack and let it run down into the crevice.


To hold the two pieces of wood together while the glue dries, I’ve used the same technique as I did to hold the legs and rungs together. Just wrap the cord around the seat twice, insert another short piece of dowel and twist it over and under until the two pieces of wood are pressed together tightly. Just like this:


The glue will squeeze out so just wipe off the excess with the damp cloth.


Almost finished! Put some glue in the seat holes to put the back of the chair back in place


and in the holes along the top rail. Insert the lower spindles into the seat first so that you can tap them in with a hammer if necessary. You’ve done it! It is now sturdy and strong. This technique works on any chair and lasts for many years.