vintage Shaw-Walker office chair

This office chair dates to the 50s and was made by Shaw-Walker.  The vinyl upholstery and maple arm rests had seen better days.


Nini from Home Anthology consulted with me on fabric choices.  We tried a bunch of different things that were nice enough, but when she put this Eames “Small Dot” fabric next to the metal and wood, we both went, “Aaah!” 

Disassembly was easy enough with a screwdriver and socket wrench.


The arm rests were really beat up!  Worn finish, scratches, grime.


Lots of sanding and a couple of coats of polyurethane later, they are lookin’ good.


The aluminum frame had both grime and some dark gray discoloration.  The grime cleaned off but the discoloration will need more multiple buffing with compounds, so I left it.


The aluminum had a beautiful smooth gloss when cleaned up.


I especially loved the back detail on the frame.



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25 Responses to vintage Shaw-Walker office chair

  1. Lisa Sullivan says:

    Wow that Shaw Walkewr chair refinished wonderfully. I have 2 model 579 the leather seats are destroyed and I am searching for someone to redo them for me. It was funny because my mom thought they were junk and I insited that I loved how well they were made after a litlle research I found out that they were some time and care. Thanks for all the pictures.

  2. Johnny says:

    Nice restoration job on the Shaw-Walker chair!

  3. sheri says:

    what products did you use to restore the aluminum?

    • MCR says:

      It was several years ago and I can’t remember exactly but it was probably just #0000 steel wool and a light oil which I wiped off completely.

      Some aluminum gets really corroded, though. I’ve had other pieces that I had to sand with 320-600 grit emory paper. Oil always helps as a lubricant; it minimizes marks left by the abrasive paper. You can also try Mother’s brand polish for aluminum and mag (?) wheels. Auto supply stores will have it. I thought about using a buffing attachment on an electric drill but never got around to trying it.

      Also, some aluminum chair frames were lacquered. This looks like a yellowed finish, sometimes pitted or flaking. It will come off with acetone or lacquer thinner. #0000 steel wool speeds up the process.

      • sheri says:

        Thanks for the the info. I am using steel wool #0000 with a polish called noxin 7. When you restored the wood what grid sandpaper did you use and did you use a stain or just clear coat?

        • MCR says:

          Anytime you sand, you should start with coarser grit and move step by step to a fine grit, like at least 220. The coarsest grit removes the top layer of wood and all the sanding you do after that is just to remove the marks from the sandpaper. If you start with too fine a grit, you’ll just gum up the sandpaper with crud and it won’t do the job properly.

          I did this chair a long time ago so I’m not positive what finish I used but it was most likely Min-Wax Rub-on Polyurethane. It’s easy to use and you don’t have to clean any brushes after applying because you just use a folded cloth. I did not use any stain. I prefer the natural color of whatever wood it is.

  4. Homer Lynn says:

    Have a 2000 series Shaw Walker Dalante desk chair. Could you help me by showing me how to adjust the height as there are bo handles to di this. Thank you any help you may provide.

    • MCR says:

      I’m sorry, I only ever had that one in my possession and I don’t remember any of the non-upholstery aspects of it at this point. Try asking in the repair section of the forum on I know there are Shaw Walker collectors and some may be reading that board. Good luck.

  5. Tara says:

    I know this is a long shot. I ended up here looking for someone who could help me figure out the best way to oil a squeaky Shaw Walker chair. Any advice?

  6. MCR says:

    I worked on the one above more than five years ago and don’t remember much about it. I would start by flipping it over and lubricating all points where metal meets metal. You may need grease rather than oil. Maybe it’s more complicated than that, though.

  7. michaelgale says:

    Looked better in Leather

    • MCR says:

      The original upholstery was vinyl, not leather, but it can easily be redone in either vinyl or leather if some future owner prefers. Upholstery is not a permanent alteration.

  8. les says:

    I am looking for replacement armrests for a 1950s good form office chair and am wondering if any parts exist

    • MCR says:

      I don’t know of any new replacement parts being produced. Your best bet may be to look for old chairs sold for parts. Or just replace with a complete chair. Government office liquidation auctions are a good source.

  9. Kathleen Peppin says:

    I have questions about how the seat is reconfigured/reconstructed ? I received the chair in parts…does the wood base and upolstery part just sit on the metal ?

  10. MCR says:

    They’re all screwed and bolted together. I redid that chair years ago and I don’t remember exactly how it was done but my description above says that it was easy to disassemble with a screwdriver and socket wrench. If you put the parts together you will probably be able to see how screw holes line up.

    The chair above has wood arms but no wood parts on the seat. I don’t know a lot about Shaw-Walker chairs but I do recall seeing message boards online where there are collectors who know about them. You might want to research that if you run into any problems. I think this chair is the only one I’ve ever had any experience with.

  11. Julien says:

    Question for you all about the wheels:

    The “stem” for one of my casters is slightly bent, leaving my chair tippy. Is there a way to remove & fix or simply replace it/them?

    My main question is how do I remove a caster? Not obvious on my first & second inspections.

    Thank you!

    • MCR says:

      There are a few different types of caster stems but I’m not sure they are different in how they are attached. The ones I remember were just pushed into place. They had a spring that held them in snugly. I’ve had some that seemed impossible to pull out but eventually I succeeded. You might try a little WD40 if you can’t get them to budge.

  12. Terry says:

    How do you raise the seat on a Shaw walker chair? I can’t figure it out

    • MCR says:

      Sorry, I sold this chair years ago and haven’t seen another since. I don’t remember how the seat was raised and lowered. There are probably some Shaw-Walker enthusiasts online who can help if you just keep searching.

  13. Elias says:

    I finally found one of these 🙂 But it doesn’t have arm rests. Would you be willing to trace the shape of them, so I could make some? Trace around support shape and also the wood shapes? I would like to make them as close to original as possible.

    • MCR says:

      Sorry, I sold the Shaw-Walker chair years ago through a shop. I have no idea who owns it now. I have seen at least one online forum for Shaw-Walker enthusiasts, though—maybe you can google that kind of thing and find someone who can help. Good luck.

  14. Preston Poe says:

    I need to replace the plastic insert in the base. Where can I find one?

    • MCR says:

      Sorry, no idea!

      Years ago there was an online discussion group for Shaw-Walker fans. You might try looking for that. There may be newer groups too.

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