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July 1, 2021

The Ultimate DIY Guide on How to Fix a Wobbly Chair

Tired of dealing with a wobbly chair. There are only a few things more annoying than being unable to sit in peace. Many chairs lose their balance over time because of high loads and fragile frames. With time, the wobble further deteriorates the chair’s structure due to additional vibrations. Addressing the problem in a timely fashion can enhance your overall experience and even increase your furniture’s life.

While you can’t do anything to change the situation in some cases, most wobbly chairs can be repaired. In the following, we’ll go through the basics of how to fix a wobbly chair.

Why Do Chairs Get Wobbly?

There are numerous reasons behind wobbly chairs. Starting from the way they are made to how they are used, chairs undergo different kinds of stresses that may cause deformation and affect their functionality.

Some of the most common reasons behind wobbly chairs are:

1. Manufacturing Faults

Sometimes your chairs wobble right from the beginning because of some manufacturing fault. The legs might not be properly aligned, the joints might be weaker, or there might be a flaw in the design.

Branded options usually have a lot of quality control steps in their manufacturing process, so you won’t face this issue with them as frequently. However, other chairs might come with problems from the factory.

One of the most common manufacturing faults that chairs come with is weak joints. Any effective chair will distribute the weight evenly for long-lasting performance. However, multiple designs compromise on this and put more stress on a single part for a more aesthetic approach.

While this may look excellent in the lounge, your chair will probably fail after some time, and the first indicator of that will be wobbling and creaking. This wobbling can be corrected, but you’ll need to reinforce the chair effectively to avoid this issue in the future.

Another common fault you’ll come across is the varying lengths in your chair’s legs. This might not be apparent when you take a look at the chair in the store because of carpets and other reasons. However, it will keep annoying you until you decide to rectify the situation. For that, you’ll have to learn how to fix a wobbly chair.

2. High Stresses

Chairs are designed to withstand several times their weight. This obviously adds a lot of stress to the frame and may even cause some form of deformation. That’s why it’s possible that your experience may deteriorate with time. As the stresses increase, so will the rate of deterioration of your chair.

No matter the build quality, the weakest part of your chair will often be the joints. Under high stresses, the joints will undergo restricted movement and may become loose. You won’t register it immediately, but enough deterioration will cause it to start wobbling.

Another common cause of wobbling in chairs is the way you use them. Some of us have the habit of rocking our chairs back and forth. Children also do it in many homes. This puts additional stress on the legs because the weight on the chair remains consistent but its distribution is concentrated, resulting in deformation and wobbles.

3. Environmental Conditions

In most cases, this only applies to wooden chairs as they are more susceptible to environmental changes. However, the frame of your metal chair may also get damaged in extreme temperatures.

We all learned in high school that things expand in high temperatures and contract in the cold. Now imagine the same effect happening consistently in the metal fasteners of your chair. The screws, nails, and other fasteners expand and damage the holes.

Similarly, glues in wooden joints lose their effectiveness over time. Humidity expedites this process and causes even more deterioration in the joints. All these factors combine to cause a lot of problems for you after some use.

4. Broken Parts

Another common case that might cause your chair to wobble is the faults in an integral component. Many computer chairs, office chairs, and other swivel-style furniture come with casters at the bottom. These casters may become loose or come off with time.

This is especially common if your flooring has a lot of cracks or your brand uses weaker material in construction. In such cases, replacing the caster entirely or changing all the bolts are some of the quickest and most effective solutions.

5. Bends or Damages During Transport

One common reason behind wobbles or damages in chairs is during transportation. Chairs usually get stacked on each other and may get damaged due to potholes on the road or because of mishandling by the movers. Both metal and wooden chairs are susceptible to these damages. Metal chairs might bend while wooden chairs might sustain some damage to their joints.

The Most Common Tools You’ll Need to Fix a Wobbly Chair

Before we start discussing how to fix a wobbly chair, it’s important to discuss the regular tools you’ll need to finish the job.

Depending on the situation, you might need some advanced carpentry tools as well, but we won’t discuss them here. There are a few tools that are more commonly required and are a must-have for any DIY enthusiast. The applications of most of these tools are not limited to your chairs only. You’ll find them helpful in a variety of situations you might come across.

Some of the most common tools are listed below.

Screwdriver set: A regular set of Philip-head and slot screwdrivers are among the most commonly required tools anywhere. From repairing your electronics to the furniture or any other thing you can think of. The screwdriver would probably be one of the first tools you’ll select. A complete set or a 4-in-1 model can be used while fixing a wobbly chair.

Chisel: No carpentry project would be complete without a chisel. It is a versatile and effective tool that allows you to incorporate new design elements, refresh the wood by removing an affected part, and perform a multitude of other tasks. When reassembling a wooden chair, you’ll need to use a chisel in a variety of situations, so it’s a good tool to have around.

Clamp: Generally, clamps have a very simple job. Simply hold a given part in the stationary position while you are performing any other task on it. Without a proper clamp, you might not be able to perform many jobs or will at least see a noticeable difference in the accuracy.

Hammers: The next tool you’ll commonly find in any house is a hammer. They too are quite versatile and have many uses across the house. For fixing a wobbly chair, you’ll need both a dead blow hammer and a regular one.

Pliers: Pliers are commonly used to pull out nails, twist wires, pull out something tricky, and a variety of other applications. While fixing a chair, you can come across many situations where you’ll need it.

Hand Planers: There’s nothing better than a planer for creating smooth wooden surfaces. Hand planers are not the only option as well. If you are willing to spend some money and often work with wood, then go for an electric planer. It’s more convenient, effective, and safer than a hand planer.

Measuring Tape: There is no point in going through the uses of measuring tape. It is one of the most important and versatile tools for any DIY enthusiast.

Glue: When working with wood, the glue will be your secret weapon. Both wood glue and super glue are effective choices for different situations.

Filler: Wood filler is generally used for both aesthetic and functional purposes. While assembling your chair, you might need it. So, it’s better to save a market trip and get it in the first go.

Sandpapers: While a hand or electric planer will take care of any large-scale job you might have, sandpaper is an important choice for smaller areas. You might need to precisely address a certain issue or might not want to go too far. The sandpaper will be more accurate and very easy to control.

How to Fix a Wobbly Chair: A Step-By-Step Guide

Now that you’ve made sure that you have all the right tools, it’s time to get started with actually fixing the problem. The following text will take you through the most common faults in wooden chairs and teach you how you can go about fixing them.

So, let’s get started now.

Scenario # 1 – Wobble Due to Uneven Legs

As far as fixing a wobbly chair goes, this is the simplest issue to solve. You’ll typically deal with one of two scenarios. You’ll find that one leg is smaller or bigger than the others. The approach you take differs according to the situation at hand.

Generally, people tend to address a smaller leg by adding a simple, yet effective solution—a furniture tack. Simply put, it is a nail with a large flat bottom that allows you to increase the height of the leg. Now the entire weight will be distributed on all four legs and you’ll be free from that annoying wobble.

Installing the furniture tack is also very simple. All you’ll have to do is to hammer the tack according to the height difference. Once you are done, your chair will be as good as new.

In the case of a longer leg. The simplest way to proceed is to use sandpaper to scrape off the access wood instead of using three furniture tacks. You might also find a single chair with both issues. There might be a case where you might need to cut the access wood on one leg and add a tack on the other.

Scenario # 2 – Wobble in a Simple Wooden Chair

The next situation is a little harder to handle when compared with the previous scenario. You’ll need to identify the source of the wobble and work your way toward it by disassembling the chair. Many people recommend putting some glue on the faulty joint as a temporary fix (eventually your chair will start bothering you again).

For wooden chairs with a loose joint, disassembling and addressing the fault at the core is the best way to achieve a permanent fix. Not only would it last longer, but you’ll also get the opportunity to rectify some design issues by reinforcing the joints of your chair. The process itself is quite simple and you don’t need any elaborate tools or skills to get it right.

To get started, flip your chair and remove all the screws/fasteners. Then, you’ll need to carefully mark the legs and joints to know their position later. Depending on the design, the position may create a difference. So, it’s better to stay careful.

The next step is to use low-grade sandpaper or a chisel to remove any adhesive left on the joints. The cleaner it is, the better your repair will likely be. Once you don’t see any residue on the chair, it’s time to start applying fresh glue on the joints. Never apply too much glue; otherwise, you’ll get a weaker adhesion. Simply spreading a thin layer on all ends of the joint is enough for any chair.

The final step is to reinstall the chair as it was before. You can use both new screws or the old ones depending on their condition.

Once everything is in place, you are required to wait for the glue to set before using the chair regularly. The best way to do it is by keeping the chair under constant weight for a few hours. Something like a heavy carton, a toolbox, and a few books would be enough for this. We recommend keeping the weight overnight, but if you are in a hurry, three to four hours would be fine as well.

Scenario # 3 – Wobble in an Upholstered Chair

Upholstered chairs are also very common and they too start wobbling after some time. Repairing an upholstered chair is a little more difficult because the joints are usually hidden and the chair has several other components as well. Being a little careful and adopting a careful process can deliver excellent results without any issues.

Just like the previous scenario, you’ll have to start working by removing all the upholstery cushions. These cushions are generally screwed in the wood and you’ll find those fasteners hidden along the bottom side of the corners.

Once you’ve removed all the cushions, you’ll need to work your way toward the back support. Most upholstered chairs use an interference fit or press fit in the legs and back support. So, you’ll have to use a rubber mallet to loosen them. Lightly tap on the critical joints and start pulling the chair apart carefully.

Repairing an upholstered chair requires you to have a lot of wood glue. So, it’s better to make sure that you have enough before starting. Otherwise, you’ll have to make that annoying market trip in the middle of your project.

We also recommend using a glue dispenser as it will allow you to access those hard-to-reach spots and ensure proper adhesion. You’ll also be less messy and a glue dispenser will allow you to be precise and only use the amount you need.

The next step after disassembling the chair is to apply wood glue on all the joints. Pay special attention to the dowel rods as they are quite important for your chair’s stability. Once you’ve glued down all the joints, start to reassemble your chair and make sure that each joint falls in place perfectly with a hammer.

Finally, hold down the legs with a clamp tightly and give the glue time to set. A couple of hours would be enough to get excellent results, but leaving the chair overnight would be an excellent strategy.

Scenario # 4 – Wobble in a Swivel Chair

For swivel chairs you generally find on your office or computer table, the main culprit is often the bottom wheels. These casters are usually attached with mechanical fasteners that may loosen over time. Your wheel might also get damaged with frequent use if there are cracks or large crevices on the floor.

Fixing a wobbly swivel chair is a simple process. The first thing you’ll need to do is to check the wheels for any damages. If there are issues with the screws, you can fix them in a few seconds. However, for damaged wheels, you’ll need to get a replacement from the market or send the chair to the manufacturer.

Generally, most chairs come with a metal plate right above the wheels. If you think that your chair is wobbling because of the screw, just get a spanner and tighten the nut. Your chair will be as good as new.

For damaged wheels, you’ll need to make sure that the replacement you are buying is of the same size. In many cases, you can only buy a set. If there is a difference in the diameter, you should replace all the wheels for a smooth experience. The process is simple. Just unscrew the wheels and attach the new ones to your chair.

Scenario # 5 – Wobble in a Metal Chair

Wobbling is not a unique characteristic of wooden chairs. Metal chairs may start wobbling after use too and the repair process is usually a lot trickier. You can’t disassemble a metal chair and reglue it. Instead, it needs to go through different kinds of processes like welding, bending, etc.

For metal chairs, the most common reasons behind wobbling are micro-bends in the leg due to excessive stresses. You can fix this issue with a set of pliers and an eye for detail.

The plastic glides also fall off occasionally from one leg. This also creates a lot of vibrations and wobble in the chair. Simply replace them and your chair will be fine. If the problem still persists, then it means that you’ll need some expertise and additional tools to correct it.

Final Thoughts

Wobbly chairs are annoying. During the day, we all spend a lot of time on different kinds of chairs while in the office, at home, watching movies, having dinner, or in any other scenario. A wobbling chair will ruin the experience.

From the way a chair is used to how it’s made, many factors can affect how fast the joints deteriorate and start affecting your experience. Even if you keep the chair in perfect condition, some deterioration is inevitable—so you should learn how to fix a wobbly chair. The process is not too complicated and can significantly increase your furniture’s life.

Depending on the cause of wobbling and the nature of your chair, there are multiple methods you can adopt to repair your wobbly chair and make them perform better. You won’t need any elaborate tools to fix them as the processes are pretty straightforward and can be performed with your everyday tools.

We hope that you liked our guide on how to fix a wobbly chair and make it last longer. If you want to add more details or discuss something related, feel free to leave a comment in the end and get the discussion started.

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