Many years ago when I was still single, I bought myself a set of four basic wood chairs from Sears. They were nothing fancy, made in Malaysia from "dunno" wood. They were solid wood, well constructed, and decently comfortable basic chairs. For sitting around the kitchen table, they did a fine job.
And so the years passed. I married. The family grew to four active children. Almost twenty years later we still have these four wooden chairs in our kitchen. They're a bit more scuffed... okay, a lot more scuffed. (Booster seats play havoc with a wooden chair's finish after a few years of rubbing around...) But they are still basically solid.
But we now have six people sitting around the table.
For a time, we've made do with some strong and solid Fiberglas (or some other slick artificial construct) chairs that I pulled from a university dumpster. But though strong, they didn't match the wooden chairs, and they were also cold and slippery.
At some point, a nicer kitchen set is in our future. I know that for sure. But for now... Our oldest is ten, our youngest is not quite four, and I know that our chairs will take a beating for the next few years. So we really don't want to go out and buy a fancy new set. Not yet at least.
But even just buying a pair of decent Windsor style wooden chairs will run $150-250 or more for a pair. Yes, I know you can find $50 chairs in discount stores. I've seen them. I've also seem how shoddy they are. Most don't even have a sculpted seat, which I detest.
(Boy, that's a long and wordy background eh?)
Then, the other week, while shopping with the kids in Value Village (a large 2nd-hand thrift store chain) I happened upon a cheap pair of chairs. They were solid wood. They looked very similar to the chairs that we already owned. And boy were they cheap: only $7 each!!
But, they wobbled. Quite a lot. Both of them. So I passed. However, when we arrived home I told my wife about them, and she convinced me that passing up a $7 wooden chair was not the most brilliant thing I'd ever done. After all, for seven bucks, you can afford to take a chance! So back to the store we went, and the two chairs came home with us, and down they went straight into my shop.
And finally, Chair Doctor Glue enters this story.
I've owned a little bottle of this glue for at least 5 years. But I've almost never used it. I don't even remember why I bought it in the first place, but I do remember that I was not that impressed with it's performance. I didn't think it really worked that well at all. It is supposed to work by swelling the wood in a tenon, and locking it into place when it dries.
Still, dribbling some glue into these loose joints would certainly be a lot easier than trying to disassemble and re-do the joints. Besides, I'd also discovered that all the leg tenons had been pinned with a nail in the factory. These chairs were NOT coming apart!
Chair doctor glue is very runny. It looks and runs much like milk. with the chairs upside down on my bench I took the lid off the bottle and dribble the glue around each leg, where the tenon entered the seat. Each leg required 2-3 applications, as the glue would soak into the joint after 30-60 seconds. I wanted to be sure that there was plenty of glue in there to do the job. All told, I probably used 2-3cm of glue out of the bottle. (The small bottle is 2fl oz, and I would guess that I used between 1/8th and 1/4 of the bottle for the two chairs.)
The next morning -- after about 12 hours of drying -- I came downstairs and was shocked to find that both chairs were now solid as a rock. The legs did not shift at all. When we sat on the chairs, they did not move.
We're very pleased with the results. We'll now have to fine tune some of the four older chairs, which have some slight joint loosening.
(I bought mine at Lee Valley. I have no idea who else carries it.)