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Friday, 26 October 2012

How to fix a cracked wooden table

As the woman of the household, I find it mildly amusing (and slightly annoying) that I am the resident handyman of the house!  It's made even more amusing by the fact that last Christmas just before we moved up here, hubby got a tool box from his parents as a going away gift.... and guess who's the one that uses it?! :P  Mind you half the time I have to ring my Dad or do some extensive googling to work out what I'm doing, but the point is that I'm the one doing the fixing, not hubby.
The crack in our coffee table!  It went almost
two thirds of the length of the table.

So when I discovered a crack in our lovely (but el cheapo) wooden coffee table, of course it came down to me to fix it.  Luckily I have a very handy father when it comes to fixing all sorts of things, so I emailed him and he told me what to do!  Unfortunately by the time hubby got around to borrowing the sash clamps from the woodwork department at school (where he works), Dad was away and unphoneable, so I had to do a bit of improvising myself.  Here's how I went. 

Materials:
  • Sash clamps (I used two, but one would probably do) - the giant adjustable metal clamps in the picture below.
  • Towels or similar for protecting your table from the clamps
  • Wood glue
  • Foil connectors - again see picture below.  85 cents for a strip of ten!  I used two.
  • Hammer

Method: 
Using the towels to cushion the table, place the sash clamps over the table perpendicular to the crack, and close gently to hold in place.

Sash clamps in place, books and teatowels to protect table.

Fill the crack with wood glue - a toothpick and/or small paintbrush can help.
Tighten the sash clamps to close the crack.
Leave to dry for a few hours (as per the instructions on your glue).
Once dry, but before taking off the sash clamps, turn the table upside down and hammer some foil connectors across the underside of the crack.  This must be done while the clamps are still in place!

Foil connectors

Foil connectors hammered in place with equal numbers of prongs
 either side of the crack.  Note that in this picture the crack runs horizontally,
straight through the middle of each of the connectors. 

Remove clamps, and enjoy the use of your table.  Make sure the glue is completely dry as per instructions before using the table at all.

Extras: 
Because my table had a few extra issues due to poor design, I had to take a couple of extra steps to fix it properly.  In trying to work out how the crack happened in the first place, I realised that the design of my table was such that because the legs are removeable (came flat packed), and because of the way they are attached, if any of the wing nuts holding them on came even slightly loose, the tabletop over the leg would switch to bearing the brunt of the weightbearing - end result being a big ol' split in the tabletop!  See the picture just above?  The leg has been removed in this picture, and you can imagine if it was placed back loosely and then someone stood on the table, for example (which I might add did not happen!!), how the tabletop would split. 


Glueing on the legs - I have left the white glue in place
for the photo to show you where I put it.

I then noticed that our poor table was starting to show signs of warping on all four corners, not just the one that had split, and in places was starting to pull away from its underneath supports!!  Argh!  No amount of bodyweight was enough to get the wood back into the right position either. 
What I did was to remove the legs, put glue between the under-table supports and the legs, then reattach the legs leaving a small gap between the leg and the underside of the tabletop.  I made sure to tighten the living daylights out of the wingnuts!!  After wiping off the excess glue, my table is now sitting upside-down in a corner, waiting for the glue to dry (which will take 12 hours).  Hopefully this will be the last of the problems with this table and splitting!