Antique Rocker Repair


A call from a family member came in that a favorite antique folding rocker had been broken. Once I got the rocker into the workshop, getting the broken seat apart became the first challenge. The four pivot points were headed metal rods with hollow ends that had been swagged. The only way to remove them was to grind away the mushroomed ends. Trying to preserve the upholstery for re-use, I learned that it was not only stapled but also glued to the seat frame. With acetone, pliers, putty knife, and screw driver, the old glue was loosened, and about one million (an estimate) staples were removed.

With the bare seat frame finally in hand, the determination to completely disassemble the loose dowel joints and fabricate a replacement for the badly broken side section was made. As the species of original wood was beyond my ability to identify, and have a fair amount of hard maple on hand, the replacement side section was duplicated from the broken piece. Since all the old glue had penetrated the end grain of the joints, two part epoxy was used to reassemble the seat frame, with two dowels at each joint.

The next challenge became re-staining the seat frame to match the original finish, which was very dark. Several applications of penetrating stain simply wouldn’t darken the new maple side section enough. A Minwax Polyshades stain and varnish was used over the many coats of stain, until the entire seat frame finally matched the original finish. A pneumatic upholstery stapler and clear Gorilla glue were used to re-attach the original seat cushion and fabric. New and more substantial hardware was used to complete the reassembly, and the antique folding rocker folded and rocked once more!