As most furniture repair-people know, the “bow back” crest rail of a Windsor style chair is no walk-in-the-park to replace. Often the replacement takes time and a technique that, although manageable, is not the most prudent. The replacement of such a piece requires a process that is not always convenient for both repair-person and client. In such cases, we lean on our woodworking skills to facilitate a proper and long-lasting repair.
This repair requires a little bit of everything in our bag of restoration tricks, from proper wood species and grain selection, to hand skills like chiseling and shaping. Here we used twin “scarf joints” along the front and back of the broken crest. This technique allows for the wedged tenon (the round dowel) to remain visible, as it is one of the hallmarks of fine Windsor furniture. Additionally, we add hidden dowels within the patch to bolster the stability in an area of the chair that endures the most tension.
Once shaped and sanded, the process comes to a conclusion with a few minor touchups to ensure the color match is nearly perfect. It is then topped off by a finish that matches the original, which in this case a oil and varnish blend.
A final polish on the remainder of the chair helps integrate the new repair, as well as livens up the old piece of furniture. There is little we enjoy more than making sure furniture like this gets a second chance at comfortably seating its patrons without fear of collapse.