GLADWIN COUNTY – Although some old press back chairs command a pretty penny at antique stores and auctions, there are still lots of opportunities to find ‘diamonds in the rough’ at flea markets, garage sales or in your own basement or attic. Well built, well designed and comfortable, these chairs can be fun, and worthwhile to refinish.
It may take some vision. Use your imagination. Stick with it and you can transform the most unlikely chairs into something worthy of your own dining room!
n Wearing rubber gloves, and following product instructions, apply paint and varnish remover. Allow paint and varnish to soften, then scrape gently. Use steel wool or scrub pads on curved surfaces. Wipe accumulated residue with soft rags.
n Sanding: A labor of love! If the surface is large enough, you can use a power sander. Otherwise make a sanding block for a better grip. Consider using a detail sander for tight corners.
n Gluing and tightening: Make sure everything is tight and secure, before applying the new finish. A pipe clamp is great for this job. Use white glue for popped or loose chair rungs - it penetrates wood fibers and makes them swell slightly, creating a better bond than epoxies. Wipe off excess glue before it dries.
Tip: After sanding, and before staining, go over the piece with a tack cloth to make sure no sawdust or other residue is clinging to the wood.
Tip: Different varieties of wood absorb stain differently: Soft wood absorbs more color, taking on a darker more intense look then hardwood such as oak or walnut. Some varieties, such as maple, absorb unevenly. Pretreating with a wood conditioner will help prevent a blotchy effect.
4. Staining: There are lots of wood tones available. You can even custom mix your own. Test your chosen color on a hidden spot. Brush or wipe on a liberal coat of your chosen wood finish. Allow it to penetrate for 5-10 minutes, then wipe off the excess. Let dry for 24 hours.
n Finishing: The look you want will help dictate the finish you choose. To give the chair a durable, protective finish, a clear semi-gloss could be used. Brush on a thin, uniform coat. Recoat in 3-4 hours, sanding lightly between coats.
Reupholstering: If your chair requires the seat to be reupholstered, use an old cover for the pattern. Have 2” upholstery foam cut at the store, or use an electric bread knife for the job. Glue the foam to the seat base using the white glue. Once the glue is dry, use an electric staple gun to attach the new seat cover, pull