Fix Your Wobbly Chairs

By Karl

Wobbly Chairs are Caused by Loose Joints

The most common reason for wobbly chairs is loose joints. Have you ever sat in a chair that wobbles? It feels like a constant swaying or rocking motion is occurring when the chair should actually feel sturdy. When sitting in a wobbly chair, it can feel as if the furniture might fall apart at any given moment. This is especially common in antique or older chairs that have seen a lot of use over the years. Also, wood tends to shrink over time and this causes the joints to become weak.

When a chair becomes wobbly, owners tend to put the chair aside and use it only when all other chairs are occupied. Wobbly chairs also commonly end up in a closet, a basement or a storage room. The owners of wobbly chairs are often embarrassed by the chairs and will not let visitors sit in them. This is unfortunate because wobbly chairs can often be fixed by re-gluing the chair’s joints. The process of fixing wobbly chairs is a little bit involved, but it’s not difficult.

If a chair cannot be fixed by simply injecting wood into the loose joints, clamping the area, and allowing the glue to dry, following are the steps to fixing the problem:

  1. Take the chair apart. This will require tools such as a screw driver and a rubber mallet. The entire chair should be dismantled – including the seat, the legs and the corner blocks. Make sure to mark all of the pieces so you will know where to re-fit them when it’s time to put the chair back together.
  2. Clean all of the pieces. This is a step that cannot be skipped and involves scraping off all the old glue. If all of the old glue is not removed the chair will remain wobbly. This is due to the fact that the new glue that you will apply in the following steps will not adhere to the old glue, and will therefore not create a permanent bond.
  3. You will want to replace all of the old dowel pins with new ones. Dowel pins can be purchased at a local hardware store such as The correct diameter dowel pin should be purchased, but if an exact match is not available the dowel hole in the chair may need to be enlarged.
  4. Using a strong wood glue, put several drops into the dowel hole and then tap the dowel pin into place using a rubber mallet.
  5. Add glue to all areas of the joint before clamping the wood together while it dries. Make sure to use a healthy amount of glue. If excess glue is used it can always be cleaned up. It is better to use more than you will need rather than an amount that will not complete the job.
  6. Apply clamps to areas where wet glue was applied. If you do not have clamps you can use a belt or any type of strap that can be tightened around the outside of the chair while it dries.
  7. The corner blocks of the chair can be re-attached after adding a layer of glue to them.
  8. As everything is being put back together, the newly applied glue may start to ooze out of the seams. Use a damp cloth to wipe up the excessive glue.
  9. After waiting at least two days for the wood glue to dry, the seat of the chair can be re-attached.


Do not banish a wobbly chair from your dining room set! If you think you can use a screwdriver to take the chair apart, use a pair of pliers to pull out old dowel pins, apply wood glue, and then re-assemble the chair, you should be able to easily fix the problem. The whole process can take less than 48 hours!

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