Monday, October 20, 2008

Lions and tigers and chairs, oh my!

Remember this chair? Good ol' Blue velvet?

Turned out, this was the easiest refinishing project I have ever, ever done. Unbelievable.

I was in the cellar throwing in a load of laundry, and since we had already ripped all the crud off the chair, I figured I'd take a piece of sandpaper to the finish and see how terrible of a job it was going to be. I already had decided that sanding should be the way to go - it was not painted and had very little dirty old varnish on it. I don't usually choose sanding over stripping, but it just seemed right.

Well, in about 5 minutes I had all the finish off of an entire arm, so I did the other arm. Then the legs. Then the gorgeous back splat (bent oak! Does that take some chutzpah or what!?) Before the laundry cycle was even done, the whole chair was cleaned of varnish.

I tried my best to find something loose that needed gluing or tightening, but no dice. The only missing bit was a wooden button that went over a countersunk screw, and I have plenty of those. So I popped that in there, and then grabbed the stain & headed outside.

I used Jacobean - typically I've been using one of the very dark walnut stains, but this was totally it - I'm a convert. It's just like those old fumed oak finishes - provided you leave some patina intact and don't sand to bare wood. Check out the gorgeous flake in this oak - goes great with our famous (well, infamous) animal room, no?

Then some tung oil and it was ready to add the seat, which Ken & I had been working on reupholstering for some time. It's a canvas-webbing type drop in seat, so after we removed the icky pillow and the old stuffing which looked like a combination of cotton batting and hay (no lie!), we put on new webbing, stapled some canvas over it, and then stapled on new fabric. It actually took longer to do the seat than strip the chair. And look at that wallpaper, for cripes sake. Is it cripes or cripe's or cripes'? I find all three spellings in the literature. Is cripe a person? If so, should it not be capitalized? Anyways, I digress. It's - the wallpaper's - gotten such a cult following that I'm not sure we can rip it down. Maybe we can sell it on Ebay. I bet there's even a Jesus or a Virgin Mary lurking somewhere in one of the animal stripe patterns...hmmm...Regardless, I find it slightly frightening that this chair looks so damn good in there. Maybe my subconscious picked fabric that matched the wallpaper. What's up with that?

Kudos to the Peirce Furniture Co. of Boston, who made a chair about a hundred years ago that was structurally in perfect shape in 2008. Now that's quality.

Another chair refinishing success story is here. You guys do rock!


NELO said...

Hard to believe it's the same chair. You rock... too. Excellent job.

Anonymous said...

Hay?!? That beats the yellow floral towel we found, hands down!

It looks fantastic, and the slat really makes me see why some folks call quartersawn oak "tiger oak".

Jennifer said...

Gorgeous chair! I love it. (I think it's Cripe's, as it's a bastardization of "Christ's Sake")

lizzie said...

Oh, absolutely gorgeous! Wonderful job!

Just A Girl And Her Craftsman Bungalow said...

This is so great. I couldn't help but think of your project as I hunted around the thrift stores this weekend. HOWEVER I don't have your skills so I chickened out in making the purchase. Maybe next time you can take photos while you do a step by step on recovering the chair for people like me that don't have a clue. :) congrats the chair rocks.

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