How to Replace a Chair's Broken Dowel Rods

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A broken dowel on a chair is not the end of the chair's life. It is not necessary to throw it out when it can be fixed with a little time and effort.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill ( or rotary tool)
  • Drill bit the approximate size of the dowel
  • Rotary auger-style bit (if applicable)
  • New dowel rod same size or slightly larger
  • Wood glue
  • Rag or towel
  • Stain, finish, or paint to match
  • Pliers
  • Coping saw
  • Small hammer or rubber mallet
  • Try to remove the piece of dowel rod still in the chair. Use your hand or pliers. If the pieces cannot be pulled out, you will have to use a coping saw.

  • Cut the broken dowel pieces using a coping saw. Cut them so they are flush with the chair.

  • Drill into the dowel with a rotary tool using an auger bit. If you don't have a rotary tool, use a drill with a bit smaller than the diameter of the dowel.

  • Try to remove the dowel again with the pliers or with the auger bit still in the wood.

  • If the dowel is still stuck, drill out the hole using a bit approximately the same diameter as the dowel or slightly larger.

  • Dry fit the new dowel rod into the holes. It should fit, but be a tight fit.

  • Measure and cut the new dowel rod to the lengths you need. You might have to eyeball the length or use a stick or pencil for reference since you will likely not fit a ruler or measuring tape into the hole.

  • Put some wood glue into the holes (enough to cover the bottom of the hole) and place one end of the new dowel into one of the holes.

  • Gently tap the other end of the dowel so that it fits snugly into the hole. Then place the other end of the dowel into the other hole and gently tap on the opposite side of the wood until it fits snugly onto the dowel. Wipe off any excess glue.

  • Once the glue has dried, you can stain or paint the repair area if it is necessary. If you were careful enough, this should not be necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have to drill out the dowels, it is better to drill them out a little larger if you can. If there is not enough room on the wood to drill it out larger, you can go a little smaller, but you may have a slight gap to deal with. Wood filler can take care of this.
  • If you are drilling out a dowel on a piece that is not connected to the chair, make sure it is secured in a vise.
  • Make sure you wear eye protection.

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