Easy Chair Seat Repair | Antique School Desk Chair

Today, I am sharing an easy chair seat repair that we have used time and again! Plus, you’re going to LOVE this rare antique desk chair! And yes, there are TWO of them!!

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Pinterest graphic showing before and after of easy chair seat repair on antique desk chair

whoa, nelly!!!

“Stop the car!!!”

I practically yelled it with excitement to one of my daughters!

We were headed back to her house after a day of thrifting or shopping at Marshalls, both of which we love to do, I just can’t remember what we had been doing!

Those chairs were my only focus!

single chair before makeover for easy chair seat repair blog post

rare antique desk chair

And then I saw it. One of the most unique pieces of furniture I have ever seen!

And there were TWO of them!!!

Sitting right there in her neighbor’s driveway, was this gorgeous pair of desk-chair pieces of furniture! I could hardly believe my eyes!

We have been to countless auctions across the East Coast and endless antique shops but I have never seen such an interesting desk, chair thingy!

And there were TWO them!!

front veiw of damaged and brocken antique school desk chairs before makeover and repairs

“Do you know that neighbor??”

She said no but she did know one of her neighbors who knew that neighbor!

Woohoo!! That’s what I wanted to hear!

side view of matching school desk chairs before restoration

call the neighbor!

My daughter called her neighbor, that neighbor called his neighbor and the next thing I knew, I owned two desk chair pieces of furniture that I knew nothing about but just had to have!

For only $30.

Can you believe that?????

I just about came out of my seat with vintage-lovin’ excitement!

top view of cracked desk area on antique desk chair

patent date and makers mark

I started to inspect the desk chairs after the purchase was made and I got them home. There were some minor repairs that I knew I could handle mostly on my own.

And then I turned the desk chairs upside down.

Omgoodness, there in black makers mark ink was the patent date of October 4, 1898.

You have got to be kidding me!!! Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled!

The maker’s mark was harder to read – let me know if you can read it!! It’s part of the mystery I can’t solve 🙂

underside of easy chair seat repair project - desk chair that has patent date of October 4, 1989 and illegivle makers mark

how to repair a chair seat

The most obvious repair that needed to be made what the chair seat. The slats of oak wood had separated. This is an easy repair with simple workshop tools.

lady pressing glue into cracks of broken chair seat

the best wood glue

Titebond Wood Glue is my go to glue. It has a secure hold and will stand the test of time.

For this repair, I ran a line of glue down the separated areas of the chair seat. Then I used my finger to press the glue into the cracks.

Afterward, I used a damp blue shop towel to clean up the excess. I also kept the shop towel handy for the next step.

lady wiping off excess wood glue on bottom of repaired chair seat

how to use bar clamps

Bar clamps are a must in a workshop if you repair furniture like these chair seats. Hubby has loaned several of them to me.

Or maybe, I ‘borrowed’ them!! 😉

The bar clamps stretch from side to side going perpendicular to the cracks in the chair seat.

lady tightening down bar clamps on repaired chair seats for easy chair seat repair blog post

Then I tightened them up until a bit of the glue squeezed out. That way I knew I made good contact. The damp blue shop towel comes in handy to wipe away the excess glue.

This easy chair seat repair is only halfway finished. The desk chairs sat overnight to dry. I’ll come back to the second part of this repair later in this post.

bar clamps on broken chair seats during easy chair seat repair project

how to fix a wobbly chair

The other repair that needed to be done is an easy one too. The desk chairs were a bit wobbly but all of the spindles on the underside of the chair were tight.

So I checked the bent-wood bracket that helps to secure the chair seat to the chair back.

It was loose. Let’s fix that!

lady using power drill in broken chair bracket repair project on antique school desk chair

I found the area that was loose and decided on a good spot for the repair. It had to be in a spot where the bracket made contact with the chair seat.

I pulled out my power drill and suited it up with a 1/4″ drill bit. Then I drilled through the bracket and into the chair seat about 1″ into the seat section.

Look closely at the image above and you will see the desk chair is on it’s side so that I can access this area easily.

close up of dowel rod used for a chair repair project

dowel rod chair repair

The 1/4″ dowel rod that I had on hand has also been used as a paint stirrer! No worries! That will ensure a tight fit in the hole we just drilled!

The whole dowel rod wasn’t needed, so I cut off a section about 2-3″ long.

Next, I filled the hole with Titebond Wood Glue…

lady putting glue in pre-drilled hole before adding dowel rod for chair repair

…and used my rubber mallet to gently tap the dowel rod into the hole. Make gentle taps so that you don’t cause the dowel rod to split.

Also, I tapped enough of the dowel into the hole to be sure I had filled the pre-drilled hole. Expect some glue to ooze out too 🙂

lady using mallet to tap a dowel rod into a pre-drilled hole for chair bracket repair

This handy little saw gets used a lot in my workshop! The blade is lightweight, thin, and flexible so it is perfect to cut the dowel off flush with the surface of the chair seat bracket.

lady sawing off extra dowel rod after repairing a chair bracket

A little bit of sandpaper smoothed it out and, wa-la, another easy chair seat repair that is strong and secure without a modern-day screw!

close up of repair made to broken wood bracket on chair

how to fix a broken chair seat video

Let’s get back to the chair seat repair. After the glue had dried overnight, I added some oak support pieces that my hubby cut to size for me to the underside of the seat.

Let me show you in another post exactly how I did it. There is even a video to show you how easy it is to repair a chair seat!

How to Fix a Broken Chair Seat

miss mustard seed milk paint

The chair part of this desk chair combo was in pretty bad shape as far as the finish was concerned. The wood was really dry and discolored and even blotchy. The protective finish had completely deteriorated so it was just like raw wood.

So I decided paint would be a good option. I chose to use old-fashioned paint like milk paint since the chairs are so old. Plus, I am a milk paint fan!!

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Farmhouse White seemed appropriate. Maybe the chairs had been used in a one-room schoolhouse where farmer’s children attended.

I like thinking about the people that would have used the antique finds we breathe life back into. I’m a nostalgic old soul on the other side of the screen 🙂

side by side front veiw of desk chairs, one painted one unfinished with various work room items in the room

white wax raw wood

You might notice that the desk section of this rare desk chair combo is not painted. That’s my way of keeping a bit of the history of this pair of desk chairs.

BTW, I did a bit of research and that’s the best name I can come up with for this pair of chairs with desks. In fact, I only found one online that looked like these. They are listed on eBay 🙂

front view of matching antique desk chairs that have been painted and staged with stack of books, red apple and antique frame on wall

The desk chairs needed two heavy coats of paint. They chipped up perfectly and that adds to the vintage feel of the pair.

is hemp oil good for furniture?

Yes!! Hemp oil helps to hydrate the dry wood. In fact, this pair had three coats of hemp oil over a period of about a week! The wood was like a sponge.

The desktops were hemp oiled and then waxed with Miss Mustard Seed White Wax.

side view of pair of desk chairs highlighting the farmhouse white milk paint

imagine all the learning!

Can’t you just see an eager-to-learn student sitting in one of these chairs??

Ok, maybe not so eager, but you can at least imagine a child sitting at this desk chair, can’t you?

side and top view of matching desk chairs that have been repaired and painted in farmhouse white milk paint

The white waxed desktops were so soft after I waxed and buffed them. And the white wax helped to disguise the discoloration of the tired wood.

side view of pair of matching desk chairs that have been painted in farmhouse white milk paint and staged with vintage books and red apple

repair the desktops

The desktops were repaired in the same way the chair seats were. Slats of oak wood were used as supports on the underside after I glued all of the cracks and clamped them in the same way I did the seats.

Be sure to hop to this post I mentioned earlier to see the technique I used! Here’s the link again!

How to Fix a Broken Chair Seat

close up of desk area on vintage desk chair with stack of vintage books and red apple

Don’t the desktops look amazing?? Just think, how many math problems were solved or essay reports were written on this desk?

close up of desk area on desk antique desk chair staged with red apple on stack of vintage books

What do you think of the chippy goodness that milk paint creates? I for one will always love this time-worn look on antiques.

close up of painted seat on desk chair repair and restoration blog post

secure repairs

Look closely under the desk area and under the seating area and you can see the oak slats used for the repairs.

profile/side view of late 1800s desk chair painted in milk paint and staged with matching chair, vintage books and red apple
side view of antique desk chair highlighting chippy paint finish with red apple and vintage books

Here is a closer look. Those desk surfaces aren’t going anywhere now!

close up of underside of desk part of desk/chair showing oak boards used as a strap for repair

And neither are the chair seats! Those oak slats will hold many bottoms on the seats of these desk chairs for years to come!

underside of desk chair showing easy chair seat repair using oak boards, glue and screws

so glad you stopped by!

Thank you so much for stopping by today! Would you let me know what you think of this post? Were the directions easy to understand? Was it helpful to you?

I would love to continue helping you like this with your own projects! If you have a question about furniture repairs, feel free to ask!

You can comment below or send me an email through my contact form!

We appreciate your support in shopping for supplies through our links. In doing so, you help us to continue to bring you free tutorials like this! We’re helping each other!

front view of matching antqiue school desk chair painted and staged with vintage books, red apple and antique frame on wall

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Until next time…

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  1. Cindy, these desk chairs look amazing. I can only imagine how many kids sat at these desks over the years and how lucky you were that they survived all of this time. I actually sat in a chair very similar to this when I went to a one room school house! So happy to see your beautiful blog and I am excited to have you in our little tribe! Thank you for your kind comment on my blog.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Aren’t they amazing? I have seen similar chairs from the ’50s that were more of a shortened ladder back chair. I was thrilled to find this pair! Thanks for your kind words about the blog. And I am excited to be a part of the tribe!!

  2. What a fantastic find! You gave these two gorgeous antique desk chairs a new life.
    Have a great day,

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thank you! We love projects like this! Thanks for reading the post!

  3. Oh my word Cindy, these are amazing! $30 I can’t believe and these are treasures. I have never seen any like these, ever. I would have screamed stop in an instant.

    Will you be selling these? I think I would have to keep one for myself. I am excited looking at these and they aren’t mine.

    Fantastic work and post! Loved every second.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Well, aren’t you the sweetest!! The pair will be for sale in one of my booth spaces soon. Hopefully, they will be purchased together!

  4. Love this project so much! I also enjoy thinking about all the people who sat and learned in those seats. So interesting!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Isn’t it so fun to think about? Hopefully, the student learned a lot!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks Carol! They were such a rare find, I couldn’t pass them by!

  5. Anna Price says:

    Love these desk chairs!! What a great find. I also love the color you painted them. 👍👍

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Aren’t the desk chairs amazing?? I just found out the real name for them – student desk. A history major let me know! Thanks for stopping by Anna!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thank you Paula! And thanks for stopping by!

  6. I enjoyed seeing this project. I love the are you took bringing them into today and still retaining their charm

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks, Linda!!

  7. These turned out amazing! I love how you styled them too. What a fun find.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Aren’t they so fun?? Thanks for stopping by Marie!