Saturday, May 12, 2012

How to Repair a Rush Seat

Ever wondered if there was a way to save a damaged rush seat on a beloved antique chair? Completely re-rushing can, in some cases, detract not only from market value, but also aesthetic quality. Here is one way an old rush seat with portions missing can be patched to consolidate damage and visually blend the whole seat.

Damaged Portion

Fiber rush strand (a modern rolled paper rush alternative)

Open up the end a couple inches...

Snip it at an angle...

Lay hot hide glue into open end

Wrap the paper around frayed rush strand

I also glued the strands down to make sure I wasn't depending on the splice joint alone

Shape the strands to where you want them while glue is still hot

Halfway there

Gluing the ends of the splices to the underside of the seat rail

All in place

Use an awl or other sharp pick to approximate the worn texture of old rush

Begin inpainting with shellac, earth pigments, and NGR dyes

From the distance people usually view it at, the repair is inconspicuous.

The finished chair. Any questions, leave me a comment. I'll be glad to help.


  1. Not sure what you did with the broken strands underneath the chair... Can you explain, please

  2. Sure thing. I simply glued it to the underside of the front rail with hide glue and then sealed it in with shellac. (Note the picture of gluing in the post) It's been sat in every single day and has been holding up wonderfully.

  3. Joshua, I have several A&C chairs from the early 1900's where the Rush is in great condition. I would like to preserve the existing Rush. What would you recommend to 'treat' the Rush? I have no problem with working shellac though did not want to apply if there was a pre-treatment to condition before re-sealing....

  4. I have several chairs, 1900ish with rush seats... in very good condition. I am interested in identifying if there is anything you use to condition the old rush? I am skilled in using shellac though did not want to apply any prior to conditioning the Rush. TY, Michael

  5. Michael,

    I would say you are safe proceeding with the shellac. There is no conditioning treatment I do before this sealing. Thanks for your interest.


  6. Hi there, I have an old chair that needs rush repair and also needs some tightening... any ideas how to make the chair more sturdy?

  7. Celerina,

    As far as regluing goes, it's all about tight fitting joints, proper adhesive, and adequate clamping pressure. Here are a few more hints:

  8. Thank you - bought an old chair today and the rushing is in pretty good condition barring a few strands - this will really help me to restore it.

  9. Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial. I have a gorgeous side chair that has similar damage and I can't wait to try your technique.