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Split side rails - Moller 78s  

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gringojoe
(@gringojoe)
New Member
Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 2
07/06/2021 2:18 pm  

Hello all - I'm a noob looking for some help. I've had a good search through past topics but haven't found anything, so hopefully I'm not covering old ground. 

I recently bought a set of six Moller 78 chairs in rosewood. My dream chairs. They need recording which I knew when I bought them. What I hadn't spotted was that five of the six chairs have split side rails where the nails were all put in (originally from the looks of things) in too straight a line and the wood has subsequently dried out. In a couple of cases the splits go right the way through to the other side. The funny thing is that all the chairs are rock solid to sit on. 

I'm worried about the additional stress I might put on the wood by straightening out the nails to record the chairs - let alone if some snap and I have to bang new ones in. On the other hand I'm worried that if try and get some woodglue in the gaps and clamp it I might somehow narrow the pieces of wood and loosen the joints that are currently tight. I guess I want to stabilise the wood in its current state, with the nails in situ, neither compressing nor expanding the rails from how they are now. Is that right? And if so what is the best way to go about it? Or should I be looking at something else entirely?

Many thanks for any advice

1623068290-DSC_0126.jpg

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tktoo2
(@tktoo2)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 473
07/06/2021 7:40 pm  

@gringojoe, Advise not trying to do anything at all until after you've stripped the old cord and confirmed that the splitting in fact presents a problem. I suspect it won't. The splitting parallel to the grain as shown in your photo will not affect the structural integrity of your seat rails in any way and is considered a normal condition for older chairs.

That said, it's generally a good idea to have spare L-nails on hand before starting reweaving and pre-drilling properly sized pilot holes for installation of any that may be necessary.


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gringojoe
(@gringojoe)
New Member
Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 2
07/06/2021 11:44 pm  

@tktoo2 - thanks very much for the advice. Makes total sense - they are solid to sit on, all the splitting is just quite visually alarming - especially where the crack is visible on the outside of the rail. I'll do as you suggest and will order some spare L-nails with the cord. Hopefully it'll go smoothly - I'll give an update either way. Thanks again.


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tktoo2
(@tktoo2)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 473
08/06/2021 1:10 am  

@gringojoe, If the joinery is still intact and strong, any minor splitting that has telegraphed through to the outside surfaces won't be visible once the rails are wrapped in papercord. No one but you (and now us!) will ever see it.

Best of luck and, yes, please do keep us updated. Nice chairs!


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Kyle Barrett
(@kyle-barrett)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 2023 years ago
Posts: 573
16/06/2021 11:54 pm  

I would second tktoo, I'd ditch the idea of reusing nails, they hammered in and trying to unhammer/unbend the 'L' shapes will just result in snapped 'L's... So they becomes more like 'I's!

Risking one of the L's snapping after bending it out of place and back into place will be worse than the split rails!

Kind regards,

Kyle


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leif ericson - Zephyr Renner
(@leif-ericson)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 5525
17/06/2021 7:32 am  

I have successfully re-woven many Møller chairs looping the cord on existing L nails. When I first did this years ago now, I broke many nails. I still break a few nails per chair, but it is rare. They are very brittle and they like to snap at the 90 degree L angle with very little provocation. Do not provoke them  Of course to reuse them you do have to bend them open. I recommend using needle nose pliers and bending the shaft of the nail. Whatever angle the L was bent to, just leave it alone.  There are plenty of tools that can work. 

I would be surprised if the joint where the seat meets the rear leg is completely solid. After a few years of use it almost always starts wiggling. Sometimes a dowel will break but the chair is generally held together by the cord. You may need to disassemble the joints there when you get the cord off and re glue then re weave the cord. 


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Kyle Barrett
(@kyle-barrett)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 2023 years ago
Posts: 573
19/06/2021 12:46 pm  
Posted by: leif ericson - Zephyr Renner

I have successfully re-woven many Møller chairs looping the cord on existing L nails. When I first did this years ago now, I broke many nails. I still break a few nails per chair, but it is rare. They are very brittle and they like to snap at the 90 degree L angle with very little provocation. Do not provoke them  Of course to reuse them you do have to bend them open. I recommend using needle nose pliers and bending the shaft of the nail. Whatever angle the L was bent to, just leave it alone.  There are plenty of tools that can work. 

I would be surprised if the joint where the seat meets the rear leg is completely solid. After a few years of use it almost always starts wiggling. Sometimes a dowel will break but the chair is generally held together by the cord. You may need to disassemble the joints there when you get the cord off and re glue then re weave the cord. 

I guess it might depend on the environment the nails found themselves in. The ones I'd tried to save have been far too brittle to save. I'd love to not spend the extra hours removing and replacing L+Shaped nails in the future and keeping as much original as possible is always the goal. I'll try again next time I have the opportunity.


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