#36 Carpentry | I Get Weak: Shoring Up a Slacking Leg

64 Arts

When you’ve been living with hand-me-down furniture and mismatched this and that, the first bits you buy yourself–even if they come from IKEA’s flat-pack heaven–can mean a lot. So it was that many years ago (at least 6–I don’t really feel like digging through my file boxes to find the receipts, so go with me on this one) I got my first glimpse at an IKEA and decided to snap up a table and chair set for my dining room at a really good price.

Jokkmokk table and chair set

image via IKEA.com

It survived the trip home from Atlanta, me putting it together all on my own (I also bought a spunky orange tool set on that trip–smart!), 2 moves and many parties. And after all of that it’s still going strong.

Well, all but one of the 4 chairs.

Broken chair leg


It was just before the holidays got into full swing when Todd leaned back in his chair to hear an unfortunate cracking sound. Thankfully he did not end up sprawled on the floor–the crack had formed along the back/leg right where it angled in to meet the seat. By the time the holidays were over the crack had gone clear through the wood and it was in need of some serious repair.

Now, with most chairs this one long piece would be separate bits and we could just replace the one board and be done with it. Not so much with this piece, so we did the next best thing:

Gorilla Wood Glue

Our glue of choice, hoping the super-tough hold does

Half of having furniture–wooden or otherwise–is taking care of it when (or before) it breaks. To heal busted wood you need two things.

  1. Something to knit the fibers back together.
  2. Pressure to hold the fibers in place until such time as they’re strong again.

Basically, we’re wood doctors healing a broken bone. Instead of a plaster cast, though, we opted to use something a little different.

First we thought regular clamps would do, but the split was in a more-than-awkward spot for such a fix. Then Todd was going to use something called a pipe vise but we were short the needed pipe. What we did have was a strap usually used for tying down stuff in a trunk or truck-bed, it’s got a ratchet on it so can get very tight which is perfect for our needs.

Todd squeezing glue between the broken bits.

Todd squeezing glue between the broken bits.

First we put plenty of glue onto the break.

Tightening the ratchet strap to use as a vise.

Tightening the ratchet strap to use as a vise.

Then we secure it by tightening the strap as tight as possible to keep the glued pieces together.

Check the bottle of wood glue you’re using to see how long it’s supposed to take to dry and then leave it under pressure a little longer for safe keeping.

After that, if you want to reinforce the section with an extra screw into the wood above or below the break as insurance, it might not be a bad idea.

Ideally we would have caught it when it was just beginning to crack and fixed it then. Since we didn’t, we’ll take these steps and see what happens. Worst case scenario? I have a reason to go visit IKEA in Orlando.

At least it beats duck tape, right?

#36 Carpentry | Project | Stuck On You

64 Arts, Projects


I really do love it when a plan comes together!

We’ve been blathering on about woodworking for a while, now, and I’d been meaning to get some projects done but not succeeding very much. You’ll be happy to know that has changed, and I’m going to go ahead and throw the next art into the mix, since it’s so simple (I don’t know why I didn’t post ’em both together to begin with).

36 Carpentry

Sawing planks to make seats and beds.

In the mind of the list originators, woodworking was the fancy, artisan-level stuff and carpentry the more functional. It’s not a seat or a bed, but I do have a functional carpentry project to share with you today that solves a need as well as gave Todd and I a chance to work together on a project.

Of course, when I say work together I mean I dreamt it up, he did most of the carpentry work while I took pictures, and then I added a few details.

First, let’s start with the problem:

I often use liquid adhesives (as opposed to tapes, etc.) and once the bottle starts to approach the half-full point, it seems like it takes forever to get the glue to start to flow–especially when I’m mid project and impatient.

From time to time I’ve stuck the glue upside down in a cup to keep it ready-to-go, but that’s cumbersome and the cup (unless very heavy itself) would tip over if the glue wasn’t put in just right. Annoying.

Then I found that I could sort of wedge some glues more or less up in this tray I’d picked up years ago, probably at the Dollar Tree, but it was still a clumsy, klugy work around.

And then I found my inspiration:

Image via Amazon.com

We have a plastic test tube rack like the one above that I got from American Science and Surplus several years ago to use in our Halloween decorations (gotta have that mad scientists lab, doncha know). What if we made something like this to hold my glue bottles upside down and ready to roll, whenever I needed them?!

So we did:

wooden glue stand on a blue desk with cutting mat in front

All loaded and ready to glue!

Because I have a combination of tall and short glue bottles, we designed the stand to nave two levels. The base is a 6″ x 18″ piece of 1/2-inch solid wood from the hardware store (pine or some other solid wood would do), the legs are 4″ and 3″ cuts from a 3/4″ dowel rod. The top levels are 3″ strips cut from a 1/4″-thick piece of 6″ x 18″ plywood we picked up at Hobby Lobby, and the whole thing is held together with 8 wood screws.

The holes were cut using a hole saw, which is actually just a special drill-bit that works on any power drill. We Todd used 2 different sizes, one for each level, though admits the one saw of his set that was missing would have been a better size for the lower level. The holes drilled are 2 1/8″ on the upper level and 2″ on the lower level. We could have gone much smaller on the lower level, but this way I can actually store more larger bottles on both level, should the need arise.

Cut and drilled pieces of wood, pre-assembly

Ready to assemble glue stand, courtesy of Todd

One of the great features of the test tube rack was that there was a little bowl or divot underneath that kept the tubes from slipping around. While I suppose we could have sanded out a similar feature using a Dremel, I decided to use bottle caps, adhered with a 2-part epoxy, to act as stops to keep the tips of the bottles from sliding around too much.

Now, you might wonder, as I did just before we finished this project, if something already existed that would have saved us the trouble of making our own. Surprisingly, not really. I found some bendable metal stands that would work well for super-glue and other small-nozzled bottles, but not for the types of glue I use. Then I found a couple of 2-bottle glue stands, meant for 2-part epoxy but they would have worked for me, if I only had a couple of glues to concern myself with.

And how many crafters do you know who only use 2 glues?

Glue stand, filled, slid into a narrow spot on a shelf

Tucked out of the way but still ready at a moment’s notice!

Finally, when we were deciding just how long to make the stand, we took into account that I won’t always need this stand out on my worktable all the time. Since the shelving units I have in The Abyss are 18″ deep, that became our maximum length so I could easily slip the stand onto the shelf when not needed.

It’s still bare wood right now because I haven’t decided how exactly I want to finish it. Right now I’m leaning towards decoupage–that seems somewhat fitting!

And some process pics for the curious (click on any of the thumbnails below to enlarge).

Have you made anything interesting lately?


And with that, we’re back to our regular blogging schedule. Thank you for your patience while I took January off to work on various behind-the-scenes projects (one of which was the look of this site). I’ll have a new post up on Thursday, too, so make sure to come back then to see something else I was up to in the off-season!

the 64 Arts | #35 Woodworking

64 Arts

Oooh, power tools!

The next art, in case I didn’t make that clear already, is

35 Woodwork

Using a lathe and other tools.

See? Just like I said: power tools. We don’t own a lathe, but Todd does have a good selection of other tools to choose from.

Only I get a little antsy around power tools.

I developed a phobia of large blades–both still and electric–after a small blade incident* made it necessary to get four stitches in my left index finger. Sounds like a simple accident, right? But somewhere between doing the stupid thing to cause the accident/incident (because it was totally my own fault), driving myself to the emergency room just shy of being in shock, waiting 6 hours (from 10pm to 4am) before getting into the doctor, and the meltdown I had when they gave me the shot of lidocaine before the stitches I was scarred, way more than skin-deep.

Todd mows the lawn and I flinch every time the mower hits a stick or rock and changes rhythm. If he’s in the garage cutting something (often a project I’ve cooked up for us, as I’ll be showing you in future posts), it takes a LOT of deep breaths not to completely panic over the worst-case scenarios flashing through my head. I haven’t even touched my beloved Dremel in years. Even the huge cutters at work–which require each hand on a safety button, well away from the blades, before the foot-pedal to start the cutting action can be engaged–give me the willies!

But Todd loves his power tools and enjoys almost any reason to use them or, you know, buy more. And he’s always careful, I just can’t help but worry. As scared as they make me, I’m certainly not going to stop him!

(Typing all of that out makes me think of Aunt Josephine from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which just makes me feel all the more silly, but there you go.)

So this art, while I’m going to enjoy showing you a couple of the projects Todd & I have already done together, will be a challenge on a couple of levels. First, to find a fresh project I’d like to do for the blog and, second, to tamp down my fears enough to actually do it!

Wish me luck!

*Fallout notwithstanding, I managed to make light of the situation as best I could in my comic strip. Click through that link and you’ll see my take on the experience.