Rocking chair joint
Hey all,

My wedding present to my wife is/was a rocking chair (Hal Taylor design). Despite my best efforts, I only got it about half way done before the wedding. We'll ignore the fact for now that we've been married for 3.5 years and the chair hasn't been touched since our wedding day. But I need to finish it!

One of the last things I did on the chair before setting it aside was glue the back legs on. The problem is, one of the legs didn't go all the way on. I had made the joint a fairly tight friction fit before adding glue and hadn't accounted for how much the glue would swell the wood. Even with the immediate application of clamps and a rubber mallet, the joint didn't seat 100%. And, of course, it had seized and wouldn't come back off any more than it would go further on. So there's roughly a 1/32" gap at the joint on the side of the seat (see pictures). I imagine there would be a tapered gap showing along the top of the seat, although it's probably at least partly filled in with glue. I haven't shaped the wood to reveal what it would really look like.

Where do I go from here? I don't see any great options. Possibilities I can think of:
1. Cut the leg off, make a new leg, and recut the joint. I don't know if I have enough excess wood for this (and it wouldn't be bookmatched to the other leg, for what that's worth). I also imagine I couldn't get that joint cleaned up perfectly without redoing the seat, which is a no-go.
2. Somehow steam/heat the glue in the joint to soften it, then pull it off. I imagine this would require some decent force that could dent the wood. And I have no clue how I'd get steam/heat deep in the joint. Titebone II was used.
3. Live with it. Perhaps try to cut a tapered sliver of matching walnut to fill the gap. Not the prettiest solution, especially since these joints are usually one of the focal points of the rocking chairs. But this wouldn't require destroying what I've done.

For what it's worth, the other back leg went on fine. It was similarly tight, but I was more ready for it and applied significant pressure to get the joint closed quickly.


Attached Files Image(s)
  Re: Rocking chair joint by OneStaple (Hey all, My weddi...)
Ugh, somehow I put this in the wrong section. Mods, could you please move this to the woodworking section?

  Re: RE: Rocking chair joint by OneStaple (Ugh, somehow I put t...)
I would go with option #3. Done well it will disappear. If it is still visible after repairs, it will always remind your love of your gift form your heart, and that is what really matters.
  Re: Rocking chair joint by OneStaple (Hey all, My weddi...)
Tyler, I've only built one of these chairs, so hardly an expert. I do feel your pain at aiming for perfection and missing, I've been there many times. In my opinion option 3 is your best bet, and I'm guessing if you're careful about the wood color and grain orientation, you'd have to look darn close to even see it. I don't think I'd cut it as a wedge, but take the time to fit in as thick of a shim as will reasonably fit. As you mention, it's an important joint, but I think the front leg joints are even more 'front and center' when looking at the chair.
Like all mistakes, learn and move on. And as a bit of unsolicited advice, don't even mention the 'oops' to your wife - or any other casual observer. Its a beautiful chair, 1/32" isn't going to ruin it. Also if you weren't aware, there is a Hal Taylor chair building group on Yahoo and Hal himself is often on answering questions and discussing the finer points. Good luck with your project!
  Re: Rocking chair joint by OneStaple (Hey all, My weddi...)
The joint looks tight from the top looking down.  Lay the chair on the front and fill the void with epoxy.  You do not need to color the epoxy, for some reason it shows up almost the same color as the walnut. In fact I do all my glue ups with epoxy because any gaps do not show the glue line like glue does.  I do not use epoxy on spindles, there I use hide glue in case a spingle breaks.  I have built 4 maloofs so I have experienced a lot is issues.
Barry Holman
  Re: Rocking chair joint by OneStaple (Hey all, My weddi...)
I think you have heard some very good advice.

The joint seems to be seated very well at the top.  As such, the integrity of the chair is likely not in question.
Rather, you just have a minor visual problem. 

Of your options, i would choose #3.  I would inlay the "sliver" of wood.  However, if you choose to do this, ensure you are not gluing in a piece where end grain will be visible.  If you do have end grain facing out, the finish will just darken the area.  This will make the "fix" as obvious as the "error".  If it is a face grain sliver, it will likely become invisible to everyone but you. Eventually, it will become invisible to you too.

Whatever you choose, please post the end result. I would LOVE to see the crotch figure on that seat. Even in the picture provided, it is evident that that is some special wood.

  Re: Rocking chair joint by OneStaple (Hey all, My weddi...)
I vote for simply epoxy. I wouldn't even bother with the shim. Once you get it shaped, sanded and finished the epoxy will blend quite well.

  Re: RE: Rocking chair joint by loosetoe (I think you have hea...)
Quote:Whatever you choose, please post the end result. I would LOVE to see the crotch figure on that seat. Even in the picture provided, it is evident that that is some special wood.

Thanks everyone for the encouragement and thoughts.  I think fear of this joint is part of why I haven't touched the project in 3.5 years (along with just lots going on in life), so it's good to have some people confirming what direction to go in and that a fix is possible.  I'll keep going on it and clean that area up and then make an assessment on what would look best (shim, epoxy, etc.).  Also comforting to know that the immediate answer by everyone isn't to burn the wood and start over!

Yeah, I'm a huge fan of the wood for this project.  Since it's for my wife, I spent a lot of time finding the perfect pieces of walnut for this project.  It's air dried walnut with some beautiful colors.  Seat is bookmatched crotch wood.  Head rest will have some curl to it, as I took those pieces from near the crotch wood also.  I'll certainly post some pictures when it's done!

Thanks all!

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