Mending Holes and Splits in Frames (Frame preparation)

February 12, 2020

Preparing a Frame for Upholstering

A popular question from our customers and students is “how should I fill in tack/staple holes that I find in the furniture frame, after I have stripped it down to prepare it for reupholstering?”

Joan’s advice is to use a PVA glue, such as our Evo Stik PVA, that can be found here. Using your fingertips, work the glue deep into the holes and splits. This will repair the wood; healing it to make it strong enough for the new tacks or staples to grip.  Wood filler does exactly what it says – fills the holes, rather than repair the wood. Filler can come loose when a new tack is hammered in …exactly what you don’t want to happen.

Simply use the glue directly from the container and work it deep into the holes and cracks, use clamps to hold wider splits together for drying. Work small areas at a time and wipe away excess with a cloth before it dries… don’t let it dry on the surface.  Although the glue is white, it will dry clear and sink further into the holes and strengthen the wood. It will also stabilise crumbling areas, or areas affected by woodworm – be sure to treat the wormed area first.

You cannot re-glue an area once it dries as the wood is now sealed, so ensure it is done properly the first time.

When to mix sawdust with the PVA:  There are times when a larger area of wood is missing and needs building up. Ideally, replacing this area of wood is best, but sometimes it can be rebuilt using a mix of PVA and fine sawdust to form a paste. This will dry very hard and will need sanding down, once dry.

If small pieces of wood chip off as you are stripping down, make sure you save them. Using neat PVA you can glue them back into place like fitting pieces of a jigsaw together. Some can be held into place until dry with clamps but smaller pieces can be held with masking tape, as it is porous and allows the glue to air-dry.

Joints can be re-glued with PVA, but any original glue needs cleaning away first to expose bare wood. This glue works by penetrating the wood and becoming part of it, so if it cannot reach bare wood, it will not work.