Secrets to Building or Preserving Long-lasting furniture

Have you ever seen or used an old, rickety, wobbly chair, table, or bed? I’m sure you have. Frankly, they kinda suck. I’ve even had chairs collapse in front of my very eyes when a heavier-set person sat down in them! Now if that’s not embarrassing I don’t know what is! You, as a DIYer, potentially have the power to stop these kinds of things from happening. Whether you fell victim to buying cheap-quality furniture, or built some yourself but failed to incorporate methods that kept them from falling apart after some time – we can’t change the past! – But we CAN do better from now.

I have friends who have bought cheap dining sets that come with a table and 4 chairs for say, 500 bucks, and they have “paid the price”. It’s one thing if you’re just an elderly couple in your 80’s with no grand kids in your home running around and knocking stuff over. But if you have a couple rowdy kids, frequent visitors, or even just like to move your furniture around often, you’ll quickly realize the difference between cheap and expensive furniture. Dragging tables and chairs around puts considerable stress on their legs, which over time, leads to their failure.

Cheaper furniture often only utilizes simple mortise and tenon joints with little or no glue, which WILL come apart over time. Some use bolts and brackets, but even these are only as strong as the wood it’s mounted on to. Tables, chairs, and beds, share one thing in common: they all have 4 legs. – Well, in most cases. And these legs act as a lever arm. The difference with this lever arm is that it’s potentially self-destructive, as it’s not actually a lever arm – it’s a vertical support. And what happens when these vertical supports don’t have sufficient lateral support?

That’s right, they tend to “fold”. As a kid I used to have loads of DIY wooden chairfun breaking old furniture. I suppose this is how I learned the characteristics of various types. I quickly realized the strengths and weaknesses of say a chair or table, and was able to locate and exploit them so as to break them easier. This is not rocket science, but it may help you to understand why your table is so damn wobbly even though you just ordered it 3 months ago. Often, it may just require a tightening of some bolts, but over time, and with the help of a few rambunctious kids, your furniture may very well end up like those I enjoyed breaking as a child.

There are 3 options you can choose from. (Not in any particular order.)

1. Get a second job and buy better furniture! Price often reflects the quality – as well as the looks – and you may want to consider forking out a bit more for better quality products.

2. Build your own! This is your DIY option, and one that you may have already considered doing seeing as you’re reading this article. This takes time, patience, precision, and in the end, unless you’re very skilled, it probably won’t turn out all that nice. Sorry, but it’s the truth! I thought you should know.

3. Go the cheap route and buy bottom-of-the-barrel furniture, but “repair” them as they show signs of wear and breakage. Regardless of how this option may sound, it’s still a very viable course of action for folks who for any reason, can’t handle the first 2 options.

Ok, now I’m gonna tell you the secret to making your furniture last as long as is humanly possible, whether you’re trying to “repair” your cheaply bought stuff, or simply trying to make your own custom-made stuff outlive your grand kids.


Use wood glueAnd there you have it! Use glue folks. It’s a very simple but effective method to supplement your screws or bolts. Just remember that glue ALONE is of course not enough – you must only use it as a SUPPLEMENT. Many furniture manufacturers do not use glue because they want their products to be able to be disassembled by their users. But personally, I wouldn’t sacrifice durability for mobility – especially when the table, chair, or bed can fit through the doorway without being disassembled anyway.

Bolts and screws come loose over time as the joints vibrate, wiggle, and are subject to stress. The glue seals the joint and limits the movement of the screw or bolt, maintaining the integrity of its hold. Of course, just how effective the glue is depends on the surface area that the glue can be applied to. If the glued joint is only a small ridge, you can’t expect the glue to do all that much good.

The key here is to glue every surface area of the joint as possible, as well as put a corner bead on all joint corners. By applying glue generously to ALL surface connections of the joints, you should be able to cause significant delay to your furniture failure. After applying the glue, screw or bolt the joint together tightly. This should cause excess glue to “ooze” out the joints. Take your finger and smooth out the glue along the corner. Now wait for 24 hours before moving it around or using it.

Comments are closed.