How can I reattach my chair backs?
March 21, 2007 6:03 PM   Subscribe

I need help fixing my retro dinette chairs. I can't reattach the chair backs because the screw holes are too big to hold the screws.

I recently purchased two chairs and a retro kitchen table. The set has a green cracked ice top, and the chairs are a nice shade of red vinyl. Everything looks really nice for its age. When I went to look at the set, the chair backs were not attached; the guy claimed that he'd taken them apart when he put them in his truck.

I took them home and got some screws and washers. Basically, the chair back should have four screws sticking out. On the seat part, there are two chrome tubes sticking up (that will support the back) that have two screw holes each. You squeeze the chrome tubes a little closer together, put the screw heads that are sticking out of the back of the chair back into them, let go of the chrome tubes, and the tension holds the screws tightly enough that the back is secured.

The problem is that whoever took the last screws out did not do so very carefully, and about half of the screw holes can no longer securely accommodate a screw. Does anyone know how to repair this sort of problem? The inside of the chair back is wood underneath the vinyl. I remember my father used to use Dap's Plastic Wood but I wondered if anyone had any other suggestions.

Thank you!

PS: please let me know if my description of the problem doesn't make sense, and I will post some pictures on flickr.
posted by rachelpapers to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The basic toothpick/Elmer's fix should repair the stripped holes, if they are indeed wood.
posted by brina at 6:38 PM on March 21, 2007

Best answer: Toothpicks and wood glue will work (dip toothpick into wood glue, stick onto inside of hole until it's small enough. Let dry, clip off overhang and then insert screw) or you can glue a section of wood dowel trimmed to size (once the glue has dried, predrill a path for the screw using a bit a few sizes smaller than the screw).
posted by jamaro at 6:43 PM on March 21, 2007

Best answer: I always snag extra chopsticks when out for chinese/sushi for this very purpose. They are tapered, so you just trim them at the appropriate place that will allow you to drive them into the hole with a little glue.

Are you sure that the chair back is real wood (or at least plywood) and not some sort of particle board type product? You may have trouble getting anything to stick in the latter.
posted by davey_darling at 7:47 PM on March 21, 2007

If the holes are not too badly damaged, simply going up a size or two on the screws might work. Alternatively, if you also want to disassemble the backs to replace the padding or covering and can get to the other side of the wood, then t-nuts can provide a very sturdy fix.
posted by TedW at 7:25 AM on March 22, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Yes, the chair back is real wood--the vinyl is a little bit ripped in one or two places around the screw holes, and I can see the wood grains.

I'm going to try the toothpick/chopstick technique as it looks like they are too damaged to try TedW's technique.

Thanks again!
posted by rachelpapers at 4:43 PM on March 22, 2007

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