Fixing a couch: Inlays for torn out threaded inserts

We bought this couch used two years ago. It's a high quality brand of couch. Some months after our move to Fredericton, I noticed there was a gap between the leg on the left side and the part that goes across the bottom front, and the joints on the left side were opening up too! Time to fix it.

The bottom of the couch zippers open (it's a fancy couch), and two nuts hold the side frame on.


Examining this, the threaded inserts that the threaded rod studs go into had partly turn out of the wood, breaking quite a bit of the wood out on either side. So I couldn't just fix it by gluing the threaded insert back in.


For the dowel joints, I had been thinking of pulling them together using pocket hole screws, but the dowel joints only required some tapping to open up completely! So I might as well re-glue the joints properly.


There was very little glue residue on the dowels or holes. It seems the whole frame was never glued together properly. On the plus side, it made it easy to clean up the joints!


Unscrewing the old threaded insert with a big flat head screwdriver that fit in the slot on the top.

I also marked a circle centered around the hole for the insert for locating the new hole after the repair.


By the looks of this grey glue, a previous crude attempt had been made to glue the loose dowel joints back together, so the dowels had come loose before we bought the couch. Though I'm pretty sure the torn threaded insert came from the movers.

I got tired of scraping it with a chisel, and thought of using a sander, but the glue might gum up the sand paper. So cut it with the table saw, cutting probably about 0.1 mm of the wood off too.


To fix the insert holes, I needed to remove all the wood that had cracked from the torn out inserts. I used my slot mortiser to carve out a rectangular area around the cracked part.


I then measured the size of the holes. and cut rectangular pieces of hardwood to match the hole.


I rounded the corners to match the hole on my edge belt sander


Then applying lots of glue to the hole and the plug and pushing it in flush with a piece of wood, tapping it with a hammer.


After that I used the circle I drew previously, and a compass to re-establish where the center of the hole needed to be, then drilled an appropriate size hole for the insert.

I found a bolt of the right size to fit in the insert, then used a socket to drive the bolt and insert in, then backed out the bolt.


Then reassembling the side frame, with lots of wood glue this time.

But I couldn't get the joints to all close properly. I ended up prying it apart again before the glue set and drilling the dowel holes slightly deeper, then put it back together, but I couldn't get all the gaps to fully close at the same time. It just didn't fit perfectly

After I glued it, I had a look at the other side and saw some small gaps there as well. This whole side frame probably never went together quite right in the first place. Kind of disappointing for a fancy couch like this.


Then re-installing the side frame.


But for good measure, I added five wood screws to help hold on the side frame. Just two studs, the way it was, just isn't enough.

I also added some wood screws to the other side. Hopefully, that will allow the couch to better survive another move, though we aren't planning on moving any time soon!


More furniture repair:

Smashed deck repair

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