Windsor Chair spindle problem

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Forum topic by Jeremymcon posted 10-16-2017 01:16 AM 681 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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401 posts in 1286 days

10-16-2017 01:16 AM

I’ve been working on a walnut rocking chair based on plans from Peter Galbert for quite a while now. I was gifted some walnut trunk sections, which I made into chair parts and allowed to dry.

Well now I’m approaching the finish line, but have encountered a snag – the 1/2” tenon on one of my spindles is significantly undersized for the mortise in the seat! I shaped them all by hand with a spokeshave because I was too lazy to build a dedicated tenon cutter. I could remake the spindle, but I’m completely out of walnut at this point!

I have been tossing around the idea of putting a couple thin wedges into the gap during the glue up, or maybe kerfing the tenon and doing a blind wedge inside the mortise. Could either of these options work? Anyone else encountered this problem and fixed it without remaking the part? Or should I just go buy more walnut and make a new spindle? I’d prefer to use walnut from the gifted tree, but I’ll do what I have to, I guess.

3 replies so far

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401 posts in 1286 days

#1 posted 10-16-2017 01:19 AM

The chair (rockers not installed):

The offending joint:

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1372 posts in 1102 days

#2 posted 10-17-2017 02:39 AM

hmmmm….tough one. I would hesitate to remake the spindle if you are out of material, walnut can really vary in color a lot and the new spindle might stick out like a sore thumb if the color varies significantly.

One way often used to fix a loose mortise and tenon joint is exactly what you mentioned- glue shims to the mortise sides and recut to the right size. This is fine if you have a shoulder to hide the repair, but I’m assuming your spindle just tapers into the mortise as is typical for Windsors, so that type of repair might show.

How far undersized is it? Since it’s a back spindle and not a structural member, can you just add a little extra glue to the bottom of the mortise so it doesn’t rattle and position the gap in the least noticeable location? I know that sounds cheesy, but might be the best fix in the end.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4254 days

#3 posted 10-17-2017 02:52 AM

It is possible to cut a tapered plug with a
special cutter. The plug can be cut from
long grain to match, then re-drill the hole.
If the plug wood matches the color of the
seat in that area probably nobody will

You may want to carve a dowel of the same
size as the undersized spindle, cut two kerfs
in it and insert wedges to see what the effect
will be.

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