How to match/replace spindles on antique chair

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Andy Baillie

New member
12 Jan 2020
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Hi guys, new to the forum.
I have been meaning to restore and reupholster an antique chair that has been in the family for a long time.
The back contains 6 x 77mm spindles and a couple of the spindles have broken off over the years and have gotten lost so I can't glue back in place.
I am wondering whether anyone has any advice on how to restore this project.
Thanks in advance

It's hard to say without seeing the chair in a picture, but if you say 77mm do you mean they're flat spindles rather than round ones?
As Trevanion says, that's not really answerable without more information.
Photos are the best way. You can upload small file-size photos - there's a guide to doing this at the top of each section of the forum.

You also need to give us some idea of how skilled and equipped you are as a woodworker. If it's a valuable antique and you're not skilled, there might be a quick and predictable answer!
6mm is very thin for chair back spindles. However, I have worked on a few Edwardian comb back chairs in mahogany that have had some very thin spindles. Assuming they are round then the easiest way would be to simply use beech dowelling, if beech would suffice?

Alternatively, you would need to make some sort of dowel making jig, as turning down that thin and long on a lathe is not really viable (with my turning skills at least). I’ve done this myself for making very thin (2.5-3mm) lengths of lignum vitae and ironwood for making stick floats for fishing with. It worked rather well.
Done this a couple of times, amusingly, if it’s “quaint” or “has character” then if you make a perfect replacement, stain it to match etc... it looks terrible. You then have to put it back on the lathe and do as poor a job of turning as the original maker did, then it fits right in!