Don't Chuck That Broken Umbrella!




About: Green, downsized, dropped out, lifehacking, office cubicle refugee

With winter fast approaching there are often blustery showers. With high winds you will, more often than not, see broken umbrellas discarded in bins or on the roadside. There is no need to throw away a broken umbrella because it is easy to fix.

The most common failure points on an umbrella are the little rivets holding the component parts of the stretchers together. All you need, to fix the stretchers, is some wire, a pair of scissors and a sailing knot.

This is my second mend it instructable. As last time, I mended something and then thought, 'I should make that into an instructable.' So, here is a retrospective look at what I did...

You can see other green things I do at

Step 1: "Ingredients"

You will need a 6-inch piece of enamelled wire, enamelled so that it doesn't rust in the wet. Not too thick a piece of wire that you can't get enough wraps from it and not too thin that it is too weak to hold the stretcher together in a wind. Now, don't go buying wire, we are meant to be recycling and reusing. Open up the mains cable in some old appliance you no longer use and look for some free wire in there.

You will also need a pair of scissors.

Step 2: Mend It

To fix a damaged stretcher match up the rivet holes of the two pieces of broken stretcher and pass the wire through the holes. Wrap the wire around and thread through again.

Step 3: "Just Singin' in the Rain"

Keep wrapping wire until there is no more room for any more wire. Do two half-hitch knots (look the knot up here) with the wire. Trim the two ends of the wire to about half an inch in length. Twist the ends of the wire together and then tuck them away. Job done!

Now go outside and rejoice by imitating Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain.

James @



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    9 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Today my umbrella would not close. After trying repeatedly, putting it down and then trying again, I discovered that there are two sets of spokes inside: the upper set stationary and the lower set running up and down the shaft, BUT NOT ALL THE WAY UP TO THE STATIONARY SPOKES! It turns out that on the shaft the bottom set of spokes must remain about 3-4 inches below the top set of spokes and then must travel down the shaft towards the handle to close the umbrella.

    I saw that the shaft has a small rubbery washer that I presume formerly stopped the bottom set of spokes from rising too high on the shaft. Said washer was riding up into the top of the umbrella and so allowed the bottom set of spokes to ride up against the top set. Consequently when when I tried to close the umbrella, the bottom spokes could not travel down the shaft permitting it to close.

    My solution: I got out my Elmer's Wood Glue, some package wrapping plastic shiny tape that is cream colored and has grooves looking like strings in it, and a bamboo shish-kabob stick.

    I cut the bamboo stick into three rods of equal length and threw away the rod that had the pointed end. I used a one-edged razor blade to split the two other rods lengthwise so that I had 4 sticks about 3 inches in length, flat on one side and rounded outward on the other side.

    I glued the flat sides of the sticks near the top of the shaft just below the upper set of spokes and just above the washer and lower set of spokes. Then, hoping to get the sticks to dry in place and remain in place, with my creamy-colored tape I wrapped the top and bottom ends of the bamboo rods near the upper and lower sets of spokes .

    This is not the umbrella's first repair. A strong wind had broken one of its long ribs supporting the fabric. That break appeared exactly where the upper and lower sets of spokes meet. After trying various methods, I concluded with choosing from my little chest of wee drawers a long skinny bolt. I used plastic wire-ties and tape on the upper and lower sections of the rib to make the flopping joint somewhat straighter and definitely less floppy. Then I sewed the repaired rib to the fabric.

    My old faithful does not look like new. It may even need some waterproofing or weensy patches, but even so I am glad to have it for its wide roof on another rainy day.


    3 years ago

    I repaired my favorite rainbow colored MoMA umbrella this way, but used a straight pin. The repair lasted a couple of years, but now the stretcher strut has lost a piece, so the yellow section I repaired droops. But it still keeps me dry.

    I also glued the strap back onto the handle with a glue gun. That worked great!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I can't find anybody telling how to re-tie the untied string on the tips of my big Tote's umbrella. It doesn't have caps on its tips; just threaded black strings; they must be tied and wrapped in a certain way so as not to rip the fabric and hold all secure. Can anybody hook me up with that repair with pics? Even a drawing would be better than nothing. Thank you.
    ps I'd rather not take Tote's up on their lifetime warranty repairs. Some of those companies just send a replacement, but they no longer sell this deluxe baby, and I don't want to lose it.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    One of my tip ends broke on my favorite umbrella! I have looked everywhere for a fix and can't find one! I have fixed my ribs before, but no one carries the replacement tips for the ribs that I can find.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is a GREAT idea to fix your broken umbrella and another idea is to donate the metal supports to a Rosary Making Group.  There are ladies who make knots by forming the yarn (twine, cord ?) around the metal that is like a tunnel and then make the knotted cords into rosaries. Often they are sent to our Military overseas.  Or you can make your own knotted cord to use as trellises or other gardening projects, I did not search where to send them because I have no brioken umbrellas.  (And don't want any). 

    2 replies

    hello bythepiece, I am a designer who works exclusively with broken umbrellas, and I do not use the metal parts at all, only the fabric to create functional, stylish softgoods, you can see them on my website
    anyway, I would love to help the Rosary Making Group by sending them some of my umbrella skeletons. please email me at
    Thank you!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is an easy fix, I use staples sometimes to bend through the rivet.

    When the stitching on the tip breaks from the fabric, I use a staple again to stick it back on.  Though to be honest, more often than not, the umbrella failure is when one of the arms snaps due to the very brittle steel.  I find this is a more irrepriable injury.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Where I live high-winds do more than this... I's such an easy fix, nice job.