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Why are my chairs wobbly?  Q.& A

My new dining room chairs rock slightly, until I sit in them. Are they defective?
December 7, 2011 1:54 PM    Subscribe

My new dining room chairs rock slightly, until I sit in them. Are they defective?

I recently purchases a dining room set (table / 6 chairs). This is not estate furniture. I bought it from long time furniture store. It's better than the 'you put it together' furniture you find at target. But it was on the low end price wise compared to other sets I looked at.

I love the table. No problem there. I'm not sure about the chairs, however.

On a hard floor (they eventually will be on a rug, hopefully), each chair has a slight rock to it. You can find it by taking one corner of the upright seat and trying to move it. On some of the chairs it's pretty minor. On at least two, however, it's worse. And on those chairs I can slide a thin wash cloth under one leg.

I've checked, and I really can't find a difference in leg length. But the slight wobble is definitely there.

However, when I sit in the chairs, there is no wobble at all. The problem vanishes. All four legs touch the ground, and try as I might, I can't rock from one corner to the other. In other words, the situation seems to correct itself once a person is in the seat (I weigh about 170, so I don't think I'm crushing the chair).

My question is, should I be worried about this? Is this acceptable? Is this natural? I know chairs can be adjusted, but I'm not the most mechanically inclined person in the world.

I welcome any opinion, but I'm most interested in thoughts from those with knowledge how chairs are put together and designed.

Is the floor perfectly level? If you have carpeting, the legs can bunch the pile differently under each foot, and if you have wood flooring, the surface is unlikely to be perfectly smooth unless it was recently finished.
posted by ardgedee at 2:11 PM on December 7, 2011

Ideal? No. Common? Yes. Frankly, little is made these days that does not have some sort of annoying defect that may (or may not) affect your enjoyment or use, but gnaws at you. I bought a set of six dining chairs from Design Within Reach a few years ago and I think two or three were not perfectly true, and thus wobbled.

Just put little felt sliders on the bottom of the legs; that will help to even everything out, and should stop the wobbling. You won't notice, and they will protect your floor.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:16 PM on December 7, 2011

If there are plastic or rubber feet, check to make sure they're all evenly seated - some very light taps on each with a hammer is all you need to do.

Wood is slightly elastic and will twist or bend under a load; moving a couple millimeters under tension until the load is distributed evenly is trivial. If the chairs look good when you don't sit in them, and are stable when you sit in 'em, I wouldn't worry about them rocking a little when you aren't sitting in 'em. If it really bugs you, yes, try shimming the feet.
posted by ardgedee at 2:18 PM on December 7, 2011

Posted by: Tony Varvaro AT 07:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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