Danish Modern teak dining chairs

This is one of a set of six Danish Modern style teak chairs that I got from someone who I think got them at a yard sale.

 

After the MCR makeover!

 

This is not the original upholstery.  They had been professionally redone long ago in this cotton fabric and then were abused like you wouldn’t believe.  This some of the dirtiest upholstery I’ve ever seen!

 

Fortunately it is possible to remove all of the old stuff down to the frame and replace it with clean new materials.  This is Knoll’s Classic Boucle, a wool/nylon blend that looks and feels lovely.  This is a dark brown that they call “Pumpernickel”.

 

Not only was the fabric dirty, but the teak was actually crusted with food in places, plus the usual paint scuffs—and whoever reupholstered them had also added a coat of lacquer to the wood, probably because it was dried out and someone thought it needed some gloss.

There’s nothing wrong with lacquer per se, but it was worn and peeling and kept my teak oil from being absorbed evenly.

 


I don’t normally do refinishing but since I had already begun upholstering these and the weather was cooperative, I dove in.  The wood looks about a million percent better now that it’s cleaned up.

 

Teak really only needs oil.

 

Ready for boarding!

 

 

This entry was posted in Danish chairs, mid-century modern. Bookmark the permalink.

83 Responses to Danish Modern teak dining chairs

  1. Sandra says:

    I love your work and blog – it is so inspiring! I have recently been turned on to mid-century modern furniture. I love it and have started to scavenge flea markets and second hand stores for pieces. I just bought two of these chairs (Danish Modern teak dining chairs) and they are both suffering from the same things the ones you restored were suffering from. I have no problem working on the wood and seat, but the back rest has small round pieces covering the screws that I have no idea how to remove without damaging them. Can you please shed some light. Help!

    • MCR says:

      There are two kinds of screw caps. One is straight-sided and the other has a cap on top, sort of like a mushroom. For the former you have to just destroy the plug to get it out, then replace with a new one. I have not found a source of teak plugs yet that I like so I just use oak and stain them to match. The oak ones are easy to find in hardware stores, craft stores and online.

      If it’s the cap type, ease a thin, sharp blade (I use a mat cutter blade) under the edge of the cap and very gently pry it out, working your way bit by bit around the perimeter and being careful not to scratch the chair post. These caps were not originally glued in so it should come out easily enough once you get it out about 1/8″ inch.

      • Brenda Roche says:

        I don’t know if you’re still checking this post. But I just found you because I recently inherited a set of Benny Lindén chairs. How can I tell if the cap it the straight kind or the mushroom? Mine look like mushrooms, but don’t know how much to dig before I find out. They are dome shaped, with a very short straight wall about 2mm before the dome begins to taper to a rounded point.

        Thanks, your information has been very helpful!
        Brenda.

        • MCR says:

          You don’t need to dig, just look at the edge of the plug. If you can see the edge of the hole in the chair, then it’s a straight-sided plug. If you can only see the edge of the plug, then it’s a mushroom type plug.

          Mushroom type plugs almost always stick out higher above the wood frame than do straight-sided plugs. You can also slide a safety razor blade flat along the surface of the chair frame at the plug. If you have mushroom plugs, the edge of the blade will slide under the cap part before hitting the stem of the plug.

  2. Karen says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your expertise! You mentioned these chairs had been lacquered – how did you remove the lacquer or prepare the wood for teak oil?

    If the wood is not too crusted with lacquer but had been treated with, say, Howard’s Bees Wax Polish (before I knew better), what would you do? (small teak laminated desktop)

    Is there a reference you would recommend for caring for different wood? The internet is FULL of opinions but I have seen your work with my own eyes and value yours!

    Thanks so much!

    • MCR says:

      Karen,
      I stripped the lacquer off with lacquer thinner (outdoors, with a respirator). Once it’s off, you can oil the wood with any good teak oil.

      I’m not sure what’s best for removing bees wax. I’ve heard that turpentine is the only solvent that dissolves wax. But I don’t think it would hurt to just go over it with #0000 steel wool and teak oil first. It might work.

      I don’t have an references for caring for wood finishes, sorry! I mostly work with oil finishes and for those I just use the steel wool mentioned above and teak oil for soiled wood and just steel wool with a soft rag if the piece is just dry, not dirty.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I love your blog and your wonderful chair transformations, but I’m a bit confused about using Murphy’s oil soap versus using #0000 steel wool and teak oil to clean a very dirty piece. I began to clean the top of an old Danish modern style teak console at the recommended dilution (with a rag) but the grime is so thick it barely made a dent. I rubbbed the surface with my finger when it was damp and the grunge was rolling up under my finger so I could see how thick it was. I read in one of your posts that you used full strength Murphy’s with steel wool; should I try that, or should I use steel wool and teak oil?

    Also I have a small bottle of “MasterCabinetmaker’s Teak Oil” I got from a Scandinavian furniture shop about 30 years ago, which will soon be finished. Would the Watco Teak Oil or Watco Danish Oil be an appropriate replacement?

    Thank you!

    • MCR says:

      Jennifer,

      Skip the Murphy’s Oil Soap and use a good quality teak oil instead. Let it sit on the dirty surface for five or ten minutes. This will loosen the grime, then you can work on it with #0000 steel wool. Wipe clean with rags or paper towels, then repeat as needed until the wood is clean again.

      I think Watco may have varnish in it. I use Star Brite Teak Oil. I’ve been very happy with it.

      Your 30-year-old oil may have oxidized a bit. It does have a shelf life!

      • Jennifer says:

        Thank you very much for your earlier reply; I am just now trying to source Star brite to start my restoration project. I see that Amazon sells two kinds of Star brite Teak Oil – one with a white label, and another being “Star brite Premium Golden Teak Oil” with a black label, which is slightly more expensive. Do you use the regular or premium Star brite Teak Oil, and would you know what the difference is (besides price)? Thanks!

        • MCR says:

          Jennifer,

          I don’t know the difference between these two. I think I’ve used both and I can’t tell any difference.

  4. mike says:

    Hi I have a scandinavian disgn set that is 25 years old… i have oiled it the whole time but now it is showing age …. how can i refinish…. is it ok to sand this and then oil it ?

    Thank
    Mike

    • MCR says:

      Try going over it with just teak oil and #0000 steel wool. Grime can still build up if you oil it regularly if you’re just using a rag and not the steel wool too. If that doesn’t help, you should probably consult a good furniture refinisher in your area. Good luck!

  5. Jen says:

    Thanks for all this great information, and for the wonderful pictures on your website!

    My question is, how do you protect papercord (or upholstery) while re-oiling a chair?

    Thank you!

    • MCR says:

      Just wrap the paper cord with plastic (shopping bags are fine) and secure at the corners with masking tape. And when you’re oiling, don’t use excessive amounts, just enough that you see a sheen of oil on the wood but no dripping.

  6. Brandi says:

    Hi, I just picked up a couple of these chairs at the Salvation Army. My question is about the (for lack of a better word) “pins” underneath the seat that the seat rests on. One of my chairs is missing two of them. Do you know where I would look to find a replacement?

    • MCR says:

      Brandi,

      I don’t have any extras of those and I have never noticed anything like them in hardware stores, but they might be available off the shelf somewhere for all I know. Try Lee Valley Hardware (online) or you could always have a metal fabricator make a few for you. Good luck!

  7. james says:

    I’ve learned so much from your insightful website. You prefer to use teak oil to clean and finish, but some other websites stress the use Danish oil. Is there a difference? Thank you.

    • MCR says:

      James,

      Products called “Danish oil” usually have some varnish added. The teak oil I use, made by Star-Brite, has no varnish and also not a lot of solvents.

  8. Alisa says:

    Thank you for sharing, MCR, your chairs are lovely! The information is so helpful for the dirty waxy teak credenza I just picked up. The mid century danish modern does clean up beautifully, I think.

  9. Linda Council says:

    Brandi – did you find the pins? I am looking for some as well

  10. Rod says:

    Where can I find the metal pin and screw that the seat bottom sits on??

    • MCR says:

      I don’t know, but I’m sure you can just cut some from a steel rod with a hacksaw. You can buy steel rod in various diameters at a hardware store.

      • ALAN SADER says:

        THE PINS HAVE TO HAVE HOLES IN THEM TO SECORE TO THE SEAT OTHERWISE THEY WILL GET LOOSE ION THE HOLE OVER TIKME AND THE SEAT WILL FALL THROUGH.

  11. Marcia Grove says:

    I have these chairs and am trying to also refinish and repair. The chairs are coming apart. Should I glue them or is there a better way? Also what kind of tool do you need to take the screws under the buttons for the backrest off? It isn’t a Phillips.

    • MCR says:

      You need a hex wrench to remove the screws. They’re probably metric. You can buy a set of hex wrenches (metric or non-metric) for under $10 at any hardware store.

      Some of the joints on these are glued and others have hex bolts under wooden plugs. If the bolted joints are loose, you can just tighten the bolts. Glued joints need to be gently, carefully knocked apart, the old glue scraped off, new glue applied, and the joints clamped. Good luck!

  12. Catherine says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful work here. I have a question. I have two of these chairs and am wondering what is on the bottom of all the legs that I see in your photos? Do they have special feet or felt pads or something like that? I would love to put easy glider type feet on mine but not sure what might be the best solution. I would appreciate any advice.

    • MCR says:

      Hardware stores stock all kinds of chair glides. Just don’t buy the type that have to be nailed or screwed into the chair legs because splits and chipping can occur.

  13. la says:

    i have these exact 4 chairs also!.. wow.. obviously,i have way too many projects going on at once.. i have identified my erik buck chair..and another set of chairs i have also identified my benny linden chairs.. are you familiar with the difference in the way the eric buck chairs backs are upholstered vs the benny linden??

  14. Laura says:

    There’s a whole bunch of well-intended, but otherwise chaos happening to Danish dining chairs on the internet – this post is a welcome change. Thank you for sharing!

    I have a set of these chairs that need new foam, but I’m stuck on what’s the best size. Obviously there’s nothing more scary than a chair like this with a 3 inch foam base, but is 1 inch the way to go? Did you use dacron or cotton batting as a barrier between the foam and fabric?

    • MCR says:

      You’re welcome, Laura. All you need on your chairs is 1″ thick high density foam. There is no need for any batting if you stretch the fabric as much as you can around the seat and staple every 1/2″ to 1″. Batting is for looser covers so that the fabric doesn’t grip the foam and develop creases over time.

      • Laura says:

        Thank you for that information – the 1 inch HD foam worked great (no surprise!). Do you recommend a particular material to use underneath the chair to conceal the staples? Cambric / dust cloth doesn’t seem appropriate. (Again, thank you for being so patient with the internet at large in your posts.)

        • MCR says:

          Why wouldn’t cambric be appropriate? If you aren’t crazy about the modern non-woven cambric, just use black cotton fabric. It’s available in many weights. If you want to totally conceal the staples, which can sometimes shine through lighter weight black fabric a bit, go for the lightest weight that works for you.

      • edie says:

        I am searching for help with seat cushions on chairs a lot like these .My problem is the original seats are gone and some one cut plywoood seats and added 3″ foam to them so I don’t have anything to look at. Can you recommend a book or anything that might show me was the wood and foam should look like, originally? I haven’t been able to find anything on the internet. And I haven’t seen any in shops around where I live

  15. Kirsten says:

    Can you talk to me about the top corners on the chairs. We are doing our and the upholstery is just not laying right on the top corners. It’s very aggravating. Any tips would be lovely.

    • MCR says:

      These are difficult backs to do. You need a fabric that has a fair amount of give to it and even then you have to stretch and pull to get it to lie right. It’s not an easy job for an amateur.

  16. Nick says:

    I need to redo the upholstery on the exact same chairs. Do you happen to remember how many yards of fabric you used? I have two chairs. Thanks for your time!

    • MCR says:

      I don’t have my notes handy but it’s very easy to figure yardage on these by measuring. Upholstery fabric is 54″ wide. Be sure to allow extra fabric around the seat to wrap to the underside for stapling.

  17. ALAN SADER says:

    How do you wrap the curved top so the fabric stays flat against the chair back in the center? when you pull at the ends it will tend to raise the fabric in the center?

    • MCR says:

      Someone else asked about the same thing and I advised her to use a fabric with as much give to it as possible. Some fabrics have very little stretch, others have a fair amount. The Knoll “Classic Boucle” that I used on these chairs is a good choice.

      You can always do separate pieces on the back: one on the front, wrapped and stapled to the back, then a back panel finished neatly along the top edge. But even that is hard to do. You will still have to do a lot of tugging and stretching.

      As I said above, these are not easy chairs to upholster.

  18. Gina says:

    I’m looking for 1 seat form for this very chair we are redoing. Where can I find a replacement? Can bent wood forms be purchased?

    • MCR says:

      As far as I know, it is not possible to get replacement seats for these chairs. You’ll have to look for a woodworker who can do steam bending of plywood.

  19. PatS says:

    Hi,

    You mentioned two types of plugs that conceal the screws. Have you found a source for the mushroom button plugs?

    Pat

    • MCR says:

      Places that sell wood plugs usually sell all types. The mushroom type caps are widely available online and in craft shops and hardware stores in the US, just not in metric sizes. But since the cap part of the plug covers any gap, it doesn’t really matter. Use Museum Wax to hold a slightly loose plug in the hole—easily reversed if you ever need to tighten the screw or remove it for some reason. (Museum Wax is sold in candle stores in small amounts, for anchoring candles in candleholders.)

      NOTE: teak and rosewood caps/plugs are very hard to find, maybe impossible. I substitute other woods and stain them to match, sometimes even painting graining on if necessary.

  20. PatS says:

    Thank you for your detailed reply.

  21. Nancy says:

    So happy to find your site. I have a set of six teak chairs identical to the ones I have seen on your site. Sadly the seats on most of them have seen better days. They are broken. I am not gifted in any way and would like to have these chairs repaired. I am in southern New Jersey. I would be most appreciative of you could tell me where I could get my chairs repaired.
    Thank you so much for your time.

    • MCR says:

      Sorry, I don’t keep a list of who does seat weaving around the country but if you ask your nearest mid-century modern furniture dealer, they might have a name or two. Good luck!

  22. CapHI says:

    I recently purchased a mid century Danish teak indoor dining table. Can I oil it with Watco Teak Oil finish? It says on the can it can be used on indoor furniture and contains mineral spirits but mentions nothing of varnish. I’ve read mixed opinions online.

    • MCR says:

      Watco is one of the ones that does contain some varnish. It’s good if you want a glossier finish, but it is a little less forgiving to use than an oil with little to no varnish. All of them have some mineral spirits in them, as far as I know—some more than others. I use Star-Brite brand teak oil (Ace Hardware carries it). It has no varnish as far as I can tell and minimal solvents. It doesn’t provide a lot of protection against spills, drips, condensation, etc. You still have to be very careful about all of that, but it’s also pretty easy to touch up water marks with more oil and buffing with #0000 steel wool if you get them right away.

  23. Dorothea De Luca says:

    I have the identical set but the bentwood back is broken beyond repair on one chair. I need to find a bentwood back or a replacement chair.

    • MCR says:

      You don’t state what the damage is on your chair. The most common repair needed on chair backs like this is where the screws go into the sides. The plywood can split through to the front or back if the circumstances are just right. I’ve fixed this by filling the entire area with 2-part epoxy wood filler and then clamping it so that any raised layers are flattened back into place. Then just sand away any excess and drill a new hole for the screw and you’re on your way.

      If it’s something more severe than that, you may have to look for either a used chair to replace yours, or that at least has an intact back rest you can swap out—but then the upholstery will most likely need to be redone, possibly on the entire set. OR, contact a woodworker about cutting a new backrest out of cabinet grade plywood and steaming it to shape. I’ve never had to do this but I’m sure it can be done by someone, somewhere. Good luck.

  24. robert diepeveen says:

    one of the kids tripped and fell over the dining table chairs , the leg cracked at the vertical and horizontal front corners , I could try to glue and screw for repair however I would rather replace that complete right hand facing component, I’m not after a freebee I would like to purchase a replacement part, are they available.

    • robert diepeveen says:

      need a repair part for my teak dining chair ,right hand facing component

    • MCR says:

      Sorry, I don’t have any parts and don’t know of anyone who would have them. You could look for a single chair and then just swap the seat and back, or have a good furniture repair person reglue the breaks. I have seen repairs of breaks that are nearly impossible to detect.

      Good luck!

  25. Gail Soffer says:

    Can you recommend a fabric that is similar to the original light beige tween wool fabric on Benny Linen arm chairs? Thanks.

    • MCR says:

      I don’t know of anything that’s a close match but I also don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of wool upholstery fabrics. I am not too crazy about that particular wool, though–it is loosely woven and doesn’t wear very well. If you are just redoing one or two chairs to match the rest, it may be tough. If you like the fabric and just want the same look, more or less, in a total re-do, then check out http://Modern-Fabrics.com to see what they have. They sell mill ends at a deep discount and usually have a selection of Danish wools and more. You might also find something on Ebay but wading through all the other upholstery fabric listings can be tedious. Maharam.com sells the best Danish wools but not to the public–but it’s a good place to see what’s available and to get wear ratings, precise fiber content, etc.

      Hope this helps a bit, at least to get you started looking. You might also just try a big upholstery fabric shop if there are any near you. They will usually have a lot of swatch books to look through and should be able to point you to the ones with wools.

      Good luck!

  26. Jenna says:

    Hello,

    I have these exact same chairs/dining set which I inherited from my Swedish grandma. They have the original wool on them, which unfortunately hasn’t aged well. I would like to re-upholster them as you did. I’m now thinking of taking them to a professional after your walk through. Do you happen to know the maker of these chairs? I would like to find out more about them since they remind me of my grandma.

    • MCR says:

      These chairs are by D-Scan and were made in the far east, either Singapore or Thailand, I can never remember which. They may have been designed by a Danish person. Some Danish furniture makers shifted production to these countries in the 1970s because it was less expensive.

      The seats aren’t too hard to do but the backs are tricky, and if the lacquer on the wood is chipping and flaking, that’s a messy, time-consuming job to remove.

      If you take them to a pro, make sure you specify that the padding on the seats should be 1″ thick and just 1/2″ tick on the inside back (outside back isn’t padded at all). Traditional upholsterers almost always overdo the padding, which isn’t the right look for Scandinavian furniture from this era. You can find high end Danish wools at below wholesale prices on Modern-Fabrics.com–3/4 yard is enough for 2 chairs. Good luck!

  27. Anna says:

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful work! I have a set of teak dining chairs by o.d. mobler and took your suggestion for using starbrite teak oil and 0000 steel wool to refresh them. I was told they had been sitting ignored in a formal dining room for many years and they still have the original oatmeal wool upholstery. The wood is in pretty good condition, not too dirty and I assumed just an oil finish as they felt satiny with no signs of peeling. But, when I applied the teak oil I was surprised to see very little absorption or color change in the wood and instead every little scratch or scuff that had previously been hard to see darkened substantially and became very obvious compared to the surrounding wood. Yikes. I have stripped furniture before but hate to use harsh strippers on these chairs which I had thought looked so good. If you have thoughts on what to do next I would greatly appreciate!

  28. MCR says:

    It sounds like they have a clear finish of some sort on them—probably lacquer, maybe varnish. Most Danish teak was just oiled but some of it was lacquered by the maker, and sometimes a homeowner will do a DIY finish to add gloss or whatever.

    The finish might look like it is in great shape but the fact that scratches showed up when you oiled in prove that it wasn’t. Those are breaks in the surface that allowed oil in, and oil darkens the wood, making the scratches very visible. The scratches and dings will most likely lighten in color as the oil is slowly absorbed; give it a few weeks and see how it looks.

    Lacquer comes off very readily with acetone—like within seconds—but it’s kind of a messy job because the acetone runs and drips and you have to work very fast to keep it from re-staining areas that you just stripped. It also evaporates very quickly and you need heavy duty gloves chemical-resistant gloves as it will destroy anything less. You need a respirator too.

    If the finish is not visibly flaking off, it’s probably reasonably ok and all you need to do is give the oil a chance to dissipate in the wood.

  29. Anna says:

    Thank you for your help! Since I will be taking them apart anyway to reupholster (the previous owner’s cat used the seats as a scratching post) I think I will remove the finish which I think I will be happier with in the long term. After all I have this bottle of teak oil… Most of the stripping I’ve done before was multiple thick layers of varnish or paint so hopefully this will be less labor intensive than that. Thanks for the tips on removing lacquer and sharing your expertise with amateurs! One more thing for those in the US looking for metric wood plugs, I needed 10mm straight sided plugs and most the 3/8″ were too small but Rockler 3/8″ plugs were just a TAD bigger and work perfectly.

    • MCR says:

      Thanks for the tip on Rockler plugs. For the cap-type plugs I use whatever size it is that is closest but a bit loose, then stick them in place with a little bit of museum wax (same thing as the sticky wax buttons used to secure candles in candleholders).

      You should test the finish on your chairs to make sure it’s not varnish. Dab a bit of nail polish remover or acetone on the finish and keep it wet for 20 seconds or so, then wipe it off. With lacquer you’ll be left with a spot with no sheen at all, just bare wood. If it’s varnish, the acetone will have no effect and you’ll need to use methylene chloride stripper.

      Some tips on stripping lacquer:

      Pick a warm day. Your hands will get very cold because of the swift evaporation, even with very heavy gloves. I wear a pair of those super stretchy acrylic gloves under chemical resistant gloves—helps a bit, but if it’s chilly out my fingers still freeze after awhile.

      Buy a gallon of acetone for a set of chairs, at least to start. Buy some cheap paper towels (the super absorbant ones turn to mush). Get a package of #0000 steel wool if you don’t already have some.

      Tear off a pile of full sheets of paper towels and some 1/2 sheets. I found that soaking a half sheet in acetone and then quickly wrapping it around a chair leg, rung, post, etc., will keep the acetone from evaporating quite so quickly and also keeps it in place better, rather than just running down onto the work surface. It’s easy to re-wet if it dries out. If you keep it saturated and pressed smoothly onto the wood (no bubbles or wrinkles if possible), the finish will dissolve within a minute or two and you can just wipe it off.

      The trick is to get the finish off without losing too much acetone to evaporation. A certain amount is inevitable. Work horizontally whenever you can, to minimize runoff. Figure out which direction to go on the chair so that you don’t get runoff onto areas that you have already finished. Some of that is also inevitable and try not to worry about it too much—at least the lacquer will be diluted and will come off more easily when you have to go over it again.

      Steel wool can speed up the process a little, which is always good. I usually decant some acetone into an old cereal bowl. I’ve tried a plastic squirt bottle but acetone dissolves plastic after awhile so this is tricky.

      Finish each chair with a final wipedown with a clean paper towel and clean acetone.

      3M makes a comfortable respirator for around $25 plus whatever the cartridges cost. I used to strip furniture back when respirators were expensive and uncomfortable so I didn’t own one—now I consider it one of my most important pieces of equipment, even working outside with optimal ventilation. Your face will be right up in all that evaporating acetone and it’s not good. Safety goggles or glasses are a good idea too. Cover your work surface if it matters.

      Good luck!

      • ANNA says:

        Thank you so much! Acetone nail polish remover didn’t do much but lacquer thinner took the finish right off. Really appreciate you taking the time to help with such detailed tips!

  30. S.Srikant says:

    I need to repair of my Danish Dining chairs. Some metal dowels that hold the seat are missing. What is the best way to repair this.

    • MCR says:

      You can buy metal dowels at Ace Hardware stores and probably from other sources. You can also buy metal rods at hardware stores and cut them to length with a hacksaw.

  31. Wendy K says:

    How do you remove the backs of the Danish teak chairs to upholster without splitting the wood frame?

    • MCR says:

      On this particular chair, you must remove the wooden plugs on the side of the frame. There are screws under these plugs. Remove the screws and the backrest will come away easily.

      If the plugs are the mushroom cap type, then slide a thin knife blade like an Xacto 11 under the cap and pry it up very gently, just a bit. Repeat on the other side. Work your way around it until you ease it out.

      If the plugs are the inset type that are sunk into the hole flush with the frame, you will have to drill through them to get them out. Hardware stores carry replacements; just stain to match.

  32. Iva says:

    Hello,

    I’ve recently bought 4 mid century chairs (Mahjongg Holland). I want to try to make the wood look better, and add new upholstery. I’m new in this whole restoration thing and I got some questions after reading this blog about this awesome restoration. It seems that my chairs have been covered with laque or wax or oil? I don’t know how to tell. So if I’m going to do this: 1. use steel wool and thinner to clean. 2. fine sanding. 3. use a couple of layers of teak oil. Is this enough ? I see people use a stripper for removing a laque layer, but it’s for tables only I think because of the big flat surface? a chair is different?
    Can you help me with my noob wood adventure? 🙂

    • MCR says:

      Test for lacquer finish by putting a few drops of acetone (nail polish remover will work) onto the wood in a hidden area. After 15 seconds, wipe it off. If the finish is lacquer, the wood will look very dull—no gloss at all—where the acetone was.

      Lacquer might also show wear where the chair got bumped. You can remove lacquer with paper towels soaked with acetone, or with methylene chloride stripper. Acetone is faster but it evaporates very quickly so you to work fast. Methylene chloride is very messy. Some people prefer to use acetone, others prefer methylene chloride.

      If there’s any lacquer left, it will keep oil from soaking in.

      You can use these methods on anything that is lacquered—chair, table, wooden bowl—-anything.

      If you think the chairs might have an oil finish, test it by putting a few drops of oil onto the wood. If it soaks into the wood, you have an oil finish. (Lacquer prevents oil from soaking into wood.)

      Wax just feels like wax—a bit like if you rub your finger along the side of a candle, or the way waxed floors feel on your bare feet. Wax can be removed with mineral spirits, then just oil the wood.

      I almost never sand old teak. I don’t think it’s necessary most of the time.

      This page might help:
      http://www.modernchairrestoration.com/2018/10/cleaning-and-oiling-teak/

      • Iva says:

        Thank you for the advice. I’ve got nail polish remover but it’s acetone free darn it! haha. for the Oil test, Can I use some olive oil ? :’) I haven’t bought any teak oil yet. I really want to educate myself before I go and do something that’s not good.

        • MCR says:

          Try your acetone-free remover anyway, it will probably work. Nail polish is essentially lacquer so whatever solvent works on that should remove furniture lacquer too.

          Yes, you can try olive oil, but test it on a less noticeable place. If you have a colorless vegetable oil or just mineral oil, that would be better. The greenish color of olive oil might show up on teak.

          • Iva Jerbic says:

            Okay, so with the nail polish remover: it leaves a lighter spot in the wood. With the oil: a big drop doesn’t get soaked in totally, but if i spread the drop, it looks like it gets into the wood.
            What does this say about the finish?

          • MCR says:

            You have to compare the area where the oil is to the area around it that didn’t get any oil. Try some on a part of the wood that looks dry. Maybe that will be more obvious.

            Acetone will also remove old, oxidized oil. You’re not going to do any damage to the wood itself if you go over the entire thing with acetone, alcohol, mineral spirits, or methylene chloride stripper, it’s just that you’ll save time and money if you can determine ahead of time that it’s just an oil finish.

            A lot of it is just knowing what the different finishes look like, especially in areas of wear. Lacquer chips off, varnish wears off evenly, shellac wears evenly and really old shellac has an “alligatored” texture (tiny fissures, roughness). Oil either seeps into teh wood leaving the surface looking dry and dull OR it just turns dark in a way that makes the wood grain less noticeable.

            Look at all the photos in the other MCR post that I linked to above. Look at other photos onine (chipped lacquer, worn varnish, old oil finish, etc.) Or you can just oil the chairs and if they look good–great. Sanding, scraping, bleaching, and staining are how you can damage furniture if you don’t know what you’re doing.

  33. Iva says:

    I had some contact with someone with the same kind of chairs. She told me that these chairs came with a finish of lacquer and some chairs with only oil. I send her some pictures of my chairs and she said it is just finished with oil 🙂
    Also I did the oil test on a dryer part and it really soaked in the wood, So my guess is that the chairs are definitely oiled, but a long time ago haha.
    So the next step will be cleaning it first? and than oiling it. Tips on how to clean it? water and soap? I see everyone with this steel wool scrubbing.

  34. Iva says:

    Just some steel wool and good teak oil. I will do that thank you so much !

  35. Iva says:

    so it’s me again.. I bought the starbrite teak oil, steel wool and did my best. I literally see no difference at all. Maybe some black came off, but I could have done that with some water and soap just for cleaning. I hope I’m doing something wrong cuz this teak oil wasn’t that cheap 🙁

    • MCR says:

      You’re still way ahead of where you’d be if you’d taken the chairs to a professional to be assessed and restored. Teak oil costs about the same as a gallon of acetone, and it’s much less expensive than a gallon of good quality methylene chloride stripper. If you paid a professional to refinish your chairs in the US, you’re looking at at least $150 per chair, double or triple that in large metro areas.

      A lot of restoration work is trial and error. That’s just how it is until you amass enough experience to accurately determine what’s what without trying a couple of different things first. I learned from trial and error, and I’m happy to pass on my knowledge at no cost to you but it is intended only as general knowledge so that you can test to see what works. I can only guess at the finish on your chairs based on how you’ve described them.

      I’ve given you solid information on how to proceed with testing what works, now it’s up to you.

  36. Iva says:

    You are right I appreciate your help. I will keep working on the chairs 🙂 thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.