Can you repair furniture with just Hand Tools?

After 10 years of service, our outdoor setting has started to fall apart. This has been my first opportunity to do some home repairs using hand tools.

I have an outdoor setting that has come with me from house to house for the last 8 years that I purchased second hand. My goal with this project was to demonstrate that, cheap wood furniture can be upcycled by repairing the weak links with traditional techniques.

With a hand full of hand tools and a bit of time, we were able to save ourselves the cost of a new outdoor setting.

Essential Tools

  • Chisel
  • Mallet
  • Square
  • Pencil
  • Auger
  • Hand Brace
  • Plane


First stage was to disassemble the chair and remove the broken part. The broken component is essential as it is used to mark up the duplicate. Next I purchased the closest size DAR timber from a local hardware store. I rough cut the timber to length using the hand saw and used a marking gauge to mark out the correct dimensions based on the original and marked to size.

Using the Jack plane, I dimensioned the timber to the gauge lines and had my material ready for structural operations. I also aligned the broken piece and the prepared material next to each other so I could mark the locations of each operation with a pencil and square.

Using a 16mm and 10 mm auger bit, and a brace was able to make the counterbore hole for the chair bolt. Using a 1/4 inch chisel and the mallet, I could start to cut out the mortise. The technique I followed for the mortise part can be found here.

Repeating this technique, I was able to replicate the old part with square holes instead of round ones.

Then, using a saw I cut the angle at the bottom, and fit it to the chair back.

Final Thoughts

This was a great little project. It only took me a few hours, and the tools required to complete the task can be purchased for a pittance. We were able to up cycle our cheap old outdoor setting and extend its life for another few years.

More importantly, I got to learn some great new skills and have the satisfaction of repairing an item using my hands.

If you got anything out of this please consider subscribing by email to see similar work in the future.

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