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Rebuilding, Regluing, or Tightening

Chairs cannot be 'tightened' by simply squirting some glue in the joint and clamping till dry. The reason is poor penetration, both into the joint itself and into the wood pores. The old glue interferes with the new. In order to make a long-lasting glue joint the previous glue has to be removed. Otherwise the new glue just won't bond with the wood. That's why home repairs frequently don't last very long. The joint has to be disassembled and the old glue removed, which is part of the full service at The Chair Doctor of Grand Junction.

Chair Construction

There are two main classes of chair designs (as far as we are concerned) - 'Stick' and 'Frame.' A stick chair (below left) has a seat that looks like a board and the pieces are inserted into the seat. A frame chair (below right) has a seat that looks like it's sitting on a box and is usually upholstered. The seat can normally be removed, and the back legs are also one piece from floor to cresting rail (top of the back).Stick chair

The nice thing about stick chairs is either the top section (the back) or the bottom section (the legs and stretchers between them) can be rebuilt separately from each other. An entire stick chair typically costs about $100.00 to $130.00 or so. The upper part (the back) can cost about $50.00 to $85.00 depending on number of pieces (including whether or not it has arms).

Frame chairs usually have to be completely rebuilt if they are very loose at all, because of their integrated design. Sometimes we can rebuild just the front section (the front legs) and sometimes if the back section is the bad one (the back legs and the back of the chair) we can do that separate. An entire frame chair rebuild starts at about $130.00 and can run as high as $195.00 or more depending on construction.Frame chair

Remember,our joint repairs are permanent. That is why we can offer such a long-term warranty. So if we repair only part of a chair and other sections need work later it will be more problematic and expensive. Click on the button below to find out more about permanent repairs.

Chair Sets

Sets. Sets of four or six or eight chairs or more can be less per chair if done all at the same time because of economies of scale. In other words, when we do a bunch of chairs of the same type at the same time we can make an assembly-line type of work arrangement to make things go quicker.

Rocking chairs. Typically rocking chairs start at $195.00 for a complete rebuild and can cost up to $390.00 or more depending on number of parts. Unfortunately it doesn't matter very much if it is an adult or child's rocker because both frequently have the same number of joints. A child's rocker can be less expensive if it has fewer parts. Click the button below to find out about our free child's rocker program.

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Stripping and Refinishing

Pricing for stripping and refinishing depends on factors such as the following:

  • Type of present finish (clear is less expensive to strip than paint, especially heavy paint).

  • Final sheen desired for the new finish (flat, satin, or gloss).

  • Thickness of finish.

  • Amount of sanding needed.

  • Color change, if desired and possible.

  • Amount of detail (carvings, lathe turnings, etc.).

  • Need for disassembly and re-assembly.

Dining chairs average about $100.00 each for full stripping and refinishing, assuming you do not want to lighten the color.

Dining table tops cost about $100.00 per linear foot assuming a satin finish. A linear foot just means the length of the table (instead of square foot which would be length times width). A six foot table top is about $600.00. Leaves should be done at the same time, even if they are in reasonable shape, because color-matching (and finish matching) is easier. For the apron (the vertical board around the edge underneath) and legs you can usually figure around $200.00.

Our standard finishing includes several coats of sealer and at least three coats of pre-catalyzed lacquer followed by a polishing process called rubbing out. Make sure to compare apples to apples when comparing pricing to other shops.

If the table is veneered it can cost more for stripping (hand stripping if possible, sanding if not) and repair of the surface.

If it is a smaller dining table but has drop-leaves or gate-legs or what have you, pricing is a little more expensive (more per linear foot). It might be narrower than most dining tables, but the difference is made up in the complexity, because the edges and bottoms of the drop-leaves (for instance) need refinished also.

End tables with one surface (no upper or lower shelf, or doors, or what-not) are about $130.00 or so and up. If it has an upper shelf (two horizontal surfaces) it can be $162.50 to $195.00.

Coffee tables are usually about $195.00 or so, depending on size.

Hutches (upper and lower sections included) are about, oh, in the $1,600.00 range and up, again depending on details.

Adult rocking chairs in good shape are anywhere from $162.50 to $260.00 or so, and children's rockers can be somewhat less.

Upholstered arm chairs are about $100.00 to $130.00 because there is not very much wood that needs to be refinished.

Dressers (high boys and low boys)

The price of refinishing a dresser depends on the size and type of existing finish. A three foot wide by five foot tall (maybe four or five drawers) with a clear finish costs in the neighborhood of $350.00 to $400.00. A shorter and wider dresser is probably in the same range. If it's painted it might cost a little more.

Cedar Chests (Chests)

There are different types and sizes of cedar chests, but they mostly fall into the range of around $300.00 to $400.00 like a dresser. Some of them have a tray attached to the lid, some have lift out trays, some are veneered, and some are cedar-lined. Usually we have to take off the lid, take off the hardware, and try to keep stripper from going inside. So this makes it a little tougher to strip.


Is It Worth It?

Pretty often we will get asked, "Is it worth it?"

But there is only one person who can answer that question, and that is you. When I am asked if some piece of furniture is worth re-gluing or re-caning or refinishing, I always ask in return, "I don't know. Is it worth it?"

After all, you can buy a brand new piece, and after you get it home you can't sell it even the next day for what you paid for it. So furniture is not really an investment, and isn't really evaluated (most of the time) on whether or not it will return the money you paid for it. People buy furniture for all sorts of other reasons. It goes with the decor, or it matches other pieces, or it is unique, it's the most comfortable or visually stunning piece you have ever experienced, or you just plain like it, are all good reasons we have for parting with our hard-earned cash to buy furniture. When you evaluate older furniture you can add in sentimental attachment and intrinsic value (some antiques are worth a lot of money to the right buyer).

It is this last reason for owning furniture that people tend to think about the most. They worry whether the value of an older piece will be reduced because they have heard stories of people who refinished or repaired them and ended up robbing themselves because they reduced the value. I have heard the stories too. One that you might find on a Google search concerned a couple who bought a highboy at auction and had it refinished. They had an appraisal done on that and other pieces for insurance reasons, and the appraiser told them the highboy was worth about $30,000.00. However, he dampened their excitement a little when he told them that if they hadn't refinished it the piece would've been worth $230,000.00.

But most of the time this won't be a problem, because pieces of this type are very rare. It is possible to reduce the value of a piece of furniture by working on it when it should be left alone, but think about it. The reason for the high value is that there aren't very many like it in the first place. So it stands to reason that you or I won't see these rare pieces often (okay, I'll see them a little more often than you will but I'm not an appraiser). Almost all other furniture will be helped by re-gluing or refinishing. If Grandma's rocker needs repair, and you want to keep it for another long stretch of time, then repair it. The cost ranks a distant second to the ability to sit in and feel and appreciate the looks of a memory.

Take our word for it. After a few years, when you are enjoying the rebuilt or refinished piece of furniture, you might remember that it cost a lot to get the work done, but you won't really remember exactly how much. Especially you won't remember the price difference between one service and a slightly more expensive service. What you will remember are the events and people who made the piece special in the first place. You will be appreciating the beauty and will be pleased to show it to friends while pleasant memories resurface. Or you will have confidence that the chair, for instance, can be used without fear of further damage or possible injury. Those types of things are ultimately what we are delivering, and what determines whether or not something is worth the cost.

Is it just the neatest looking piece of furniture you have ever seen? Then why not spend the money on yourself and make sure you can keep using it without concern for embarrassment or injury? If you can't use it, or be pleased to have it in your living room, then why have it at all? Even if it does have a high intrinsic value, do you really care? After all, something like that is really only worth money when it's sold. Are you going to sell it, or keep it to enjoy or to remember a dear departed family member? Do you want to leave it to your kids, so they will have something that they can use all the time and remember you every time they use it? Is it just a good quality piece that you like a lot and want to have around indefinitely? Generally the answers to these questions will also help determine if the cost is 'worth it.'

That said, there are some pieces of furniture that are not worth fixing. These are mostly low-cost imports having absolutely no sentimental value (and not likely to last long enough to get any, either) which can be replaced for much less than the value of the repair or refinish. The only reason for fixing some of these is that they are part of a set and it would be more difficult to find a matching piece or buy a new set. We have worked on some of these pieces and will continue to do so as long as there is a need, but they tend to be more difficult to repair because of the type of wood and the flimsy construction.

You will have to decide.


Time and Material

All of our work, except for a few flat price items, is quoted at time and material. This means that whatever time the project takes determines the charges.

Some people are rightly concerned about time and material. The thinking is that it is easily abused by the service provider. However, we did not get where we are today, with hundreds of very happy clients, by overcharging or by abusing their trust.

We give written estimates, and work very hard to stay within those estimates. If the client wants the estimate to be a budget limit, then we try to tailor what we do to the budget. In other words, if a client says that they don't want to spend more than a certain amount, then we modify the work that can be done according to their wishes. Sometimes this means skipping work that we would rather not skip, but the client is the boss.

However, if you let us use our judgment to balance both the work and the budget, you will find that the price is not necessarily out of your range anyway. And also when we have latitude to do what we think is best, you will be much happier with the end result in the long run.

If the client wants perfection, such as when refinishing, then we will also strive to deliver that as well. Most people do not want perfection, though, they just want a reasonable value and result for a reasonable amount of money. 'Reasonable' is different for different people, so we get as much information from the client as we can to help us both arrive at a mutual understanding of it.


Wait or Lead Time

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks to offering quality work in a small shop with a high demand is the backlog or wait time.  The normal wait time for us to get to your project will be at least two or three months.  It has been a little shorter on occasion, but frequently it can get up to six months or more.

This can be a good thing, however.  If you are planning a project but waiting for the budget to get to where you can afford it, then the wait time might work out well for you.  What we can do is fill out a work order and place it in the stack.  You can continue to use your furniture until we get to your work order.  Then we call and set up an appointment, and within a few days or a week or two you can get back your new-looking and improved furniture.

Another thing that affects the backlog is that we don't always know how long a project will take.  We might estimate a few days and it takes a few weeks because of silicone contamination or other unanticipated factor.

We do have a priority charge of $35.00 or 10% of the cost which is in addition to the other regular charges and which can move up the timing of your project if you really need it soon.  Charging a priority fee means other people who might have been waiting longer will understand that your project has a really important deadline and be more gracious with allowing your project to be completed ahead of theirs.

Once we get to your project, if you have additional work we can go ahead and do it at the same time or space it out in the regular backlog if you want.  Some people bring in one dining chair, and when that one is done they bring in another and are willing to wait for it again.  Other people may end up with more work while waiting for the first piece to be done, and they need the other pieces sooner.  However it works out best for you, we can try to accommodate your needs.