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.

55 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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