My wife was considering picking up this stool at an antique mall the other day and asked me if I could replace the stretcher bar in the middle. I told her more likely I could so she should go ahead and buy it.
The old stretcher was completely broken off and only the ends remained in the holes where it was attached. I took an 1/8″ drill bit and drilled a pilot hole in the middle of the holes on each end.
I then took a 1/2″ forstner bit and drilled out the hole cleaning it out. The pilot hole served as a guide for the point on my forstner bit so it would not wander off the center of the hole.
I then found a piece of scrap wood around the shop, measured how long the stretcher needed to be and then turned it so the middle was 1″ in diameter while tapering each end to 1/2″ in diameter.
Once the turning was done, I checked the fit of the stretcher at the hole. If the stretcher was a little tight, I shaved off some of the wood with a spokeshave so that the stretcher would fit in the hole nicely. I also had to loosen the legs a little bit by taking out the screws that held them to the frame to give me enough room so that the stretcher would pop into place. Once in, I screwed the screws back into place.
A half hour of work and a piece of scrap wood, the stool had a replaced stretcher. Now it’s my wife’s turn to finish the stool.