Fixing Things: Bed Finial

Here’s a short little post on fixing a bed post finial.  At least I think it’s called a finial.  Either way, the top of the bed posts on an antique bed we have has some removable decorative pieces.  My daughter managed to break one the other day by swinging on it I think.  As you can see in the picture, the finial has a peg projecting from the bottom of it that fits into a hole in the bed post.  It looks as if the finial was tugged to the side sharply and it left behind a very rough break.  There’s no way this could be glued back together.  Even if it could be, it’s an end grain glue joint and would easily break again.  I’ll quickly cover the steps I took to fix it.  Nothing too exciting this time around but its a practical use of tools around the house.

 

I decided the easiest way to fix it would be to drill the broken part out to the diameter of the remaining part of the peg.  The first step in doing this was to clean up the broken edge.  I used a sharp chisel and light blows by a mallet to remove the broken wood while being careful not to gouge the bottom of the finial.  The picture below, shows the chisel in use.  Chocking up on the blade of the chisel allows very precise usage.

 

With the surface cleaned the next step is to start drilling.  In order to keep the drill bit from walking, a center spot is needed.  Luckily, there was a preexisting spot created after chiseling the wood that I could use as a center spot.  I’ve pointed this spot out in the picture with a red arrow.  The size of the spot was increased with an awl before drilling.

 

I’ve found the easiest way to measure the diameter of something like the peg is to use calipers.  It gives you a measurement that is more precise than you really need in this case but it’s not a bad thing.  The peg has a diameter of 0.474 inches.  Next, I needed to find a drill bit, that I had on hand, to drill the final to.  Checking a drill chart I have shows that a 15/32 inch drill bit is equal to 0.469 inches which is slightly undersized.

 

To drill the finial, I made use of the Clausing drill press again.  I wrapped the finial in masking tape to keep from scratching it and then clamped it with a wooden clamp.  The clamp didn’t keep the finial from rotating side to side but it did keep it from kicking out at the bottom end.   Steadying is requires lightly holding the top of the finial.  If the finial was rigidly held you could probably jump right to a 15/32 inch drill bit.  But, since it was not, I started with a small drill bit and worked my way up to the final size in with several intermediate drill bits.  This is never a bad idea because it is less likely to grab the part your drilling which, if it is small, can be an issue.

 

Here’s the finial after being drilled to 15/32 inch.

 

With the hole a little undersized, the peg fit tightly and did not require any glue.  Also, if need be, the peg can be removed with a little effort.  Done.

 

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