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Refinishing a mid century modern chair

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Forum topic by chrisd posted 10-07-2018 06:57 PM 489 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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chrisd

18 posts in 3463 days


10-07-2018 06:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing staining mid century modern 1950s

How do!

I’m refinishing a mid century modern chair that belonged to my parents and I need a little help with it.

This is the chairs twin. Last finished by my dad sometime in the 1950’s

I’ve sanded it down to bare wood and up to 180 for now, but this is where I get nervous moving forward. The wood seems to be Birch (it was made in Denmark in the 50’s if that helps and I can provide better/closer pics if needed) and I’d like to keep to a finish that’s consistent with the style. What would that be? Sanded in? Minwax stain with a Varithane finish? Tung oil? I can’t seem to find much relevant info on mid century finishing techniques.

Ciao!

Chris


16 replies so far

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Aj2

2321 posts in 2214 days


#1 posted 10-07-2018 07:13 PM

Just oil it. Danish oil is good, tung oil will be more work takes forever to dry. Why would you even think of staining it . Didn’t you just finish sanding out all the stains.I doubt if varithane poly was used back then.

-- Aj

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chrisd

18 posts in 3463 days


#2 posted 10-08-2018 10:44 PM

Thanks for the feedback Aj.

I’m not positive what was used to finish it originally, but knowing my dad, he stained it then finished it with whatever was the easiest at the time. He believed in the miracle of modern chemistry! :)

I’d consider staining it just because I’d prefer if the chair was quite dark, that’s all. However, not only am I open and willing to entertain other options, I’m actively seeking other options. I would like whatever finish I go with to be within the options the designer and manufacturer intended.

So no water base poly or anything? Just oil? What about sanded-in? Is that something to be considered? If only oil, what grit should I sand it to?

Thanks Aj!

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Aj2

2321 posts in 2214 days


#3 posted 10-08-2018 10:56 PM

Well then that’s a good point. I’m not a fan of polyurethane finishes because all I see is wood wrapped in plastic. Plus a chair with arms one should feel the wood not a film finish like poly yuk thane. :)
The watco danish oil does come in dark walnut .

-- Aj

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lumbering_on

578 posts in 906 days


#4 posted 10-08-2018 11:09 PM

I’ve used this ‘Bob’s Miracle Finish’ before

https://sawsonskates.com/bobs-miracle-finish/

Gives a nice dark, satin finish.

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Rich

4548 posts in 1005 days


#5 posted 10-08-2018 11:15 PM

I’d go with Waterlox Original. You get the nice depth and color of tung oil and it has a higher resin content than Danish for a nicer build and more durability.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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ArtMann

1396 posts in 1232 days


#6 posted 10-08-2018 11:20 PM

You do realize that Watco Danish Oil contains a large percentage of polyurethane don’t you?


Well then that’s a good point. I’m not a fan of polyurethane finishes because all I see is wood wrapped in plastic. Plus a chair with arms one should feel the wood not a film finish like poly yuk thane. :)
The watco danish oil does come in dark walnut .

- Aj2


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Aj2

2321 posts in 2214 days


#7 posted 10-08-2018 11:37 PM

No i didn’t know that.
Now I will have to sacrifice a small animal to cover my sin. Sorry little puppy :)

-- Aj

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Rich

4548 posts in 1005 days


#8 posted 10-08-2018 11:58 PM


You do realize that Watco Danish Oil contains a large percentage of polyurethane don t you?

- ArtMann

It’s not polyurethane. Danish oil is a varnish made from oil and resin. I mentioned Waterlox because it’s based on tung oil and, in my experience, builds faster than Danish indicating to me that its resin content is higher. They don’t publish exact percentages due to trade secret issues.

Watco Danish is a blend of oils and resin as shown in the MSDS for the product:

Raw Linseed Oil
Vegetable Oil
Resin
Gilsonite

The Gilsonite is likely present in their tinted Danish oil varieties. The MSDS is generic for all of their products labeled Danish Oil.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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runswithscissors

3052 posts in 2441 days


#9 posted 10-08-2018 11:58 PM

Daly’s Ben Matte is a Danish style rubbed finish. It comes clear and in various stains. It doesn’t need to be sanded to extremely fine grits, and the wet sanding with 400 to 600 grits leaves a nice soft finish. Dries in a reasonable time. I don’t know whether it contains any polyurethane.

I’d first check what color you get by applying clear in an inconspicuous spot. A lot of Danish modern was made out of walnut.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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lumbering_on

578 posts in 906 days


#10 posted 10-09-2018 12:44 AM



No i didn’t know that.
Now I will have to sacrifice a small animal to cover my sin. Sorry little puppy :)

- Aj2

It’s sad, but sometimes you have to make small sacrifices for your craft. ;)

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Rich

4548 posts in 1005 days


#11 posted 10-09-2018 12:45 AM


Daly s Ben Matte is a Danish style rubbed finish.

- runswithscissors

It’s interesting that their BenMatte Natural Tung Oil Finish contains no tung oil according to the SDS. Just linseed oil.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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chrisd

18 posts in 3463 days


#12 posted 10-09-2018 05:19 PM

As interesting as the debate concerning the base matrix of Danish and Tung Oil may be, I’m still wondering if anyone knows what kind of finishes would be consistent with this style and time?

Not to be curt but I’m not all that interested in how you would finish this unless you would finish it in a way that is consistent with the style and time.

Of course Danish oil was around in the 50’s but would you use it to finish a chair like this? Is it just me or is that like having your 1950’s Bel Air painted by Earl Scheib? That just seems …. I dunno … wrong. Am I off base?

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Rich

4548 posts in 1005 days


#13 posted 10-09-2018 05:46 PM


Not to be curt but I m not all that interested in how you would finish this unless you would finish it in a way that is consistent with the style and time.

- chrisd

Only experts need reply…lol Looks like you’re on your own. Best of luck.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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chrisd

18 posts in 3463 days


#14 posted 10-09-2018 06:15 PM

Not to be curt but I m not all that interested in how you would finish this unless you would finish it in a way that is consistent with the style and time.

- chrisd

Only experts need reply…lol Looks like you re on your own. Best of luck.

- Rich

I mentioned nothing about experts Rich, I just can’t find any reliable information about how this type of mid century modern chair was intended to be finished and I would like to know that information in order to apply that type of finish.

I’m sorry if my attempt at focusing this conversation from something off topic toward an answer I can use hurt your feelings to the point that you feeling a need to be so rude as to throw it in my face.

Thanks
C

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Rich

4548 posts in 1005 days


#15 posted 10-09-2018 07:37 PM

Actually, rude is when you tell people who tried in good faith to help that you aren’t interested in their input unless it’s accurate for the period. To that I say go figure it out for yourself if you can. The information is out there, just get off your butt and go find it.

P.S. Here’s a video of widely respected antique restorer Tom Johnson using Waterlox on a Hans Wegner mid century modern teak chair. But hey, what does he know?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6vBPeF4xBY

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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