Another Yugoslavian folding chair gets new life


I got this poor old thing awhile ago and kept putting off work on it because the frame needed refinishing.  It’s beech with a stain and then clear lacquer on top—it’s supposed to look like walnut but of course once the finish gets a little worn it is obvious that it’s not.

I chose to strip the lacquer and ebonize the chair with India ink, a process I’ve done on a number of other chairs.  I think it looks especially good on these chairs and any dings can be easily touched up with a dab of ink!


There are at least several different versions of these chairs, which were mostly made in Yugoslavia but you will see some marked Italy and Japan; they were inspired by Hans Wegner’s folding lounge chair.  You might see one once in awhile being described as a Wegner original but that would be an incorrect attribution.

I like this version without the handles on the sides.  It looks so much more sleek.



The paper cord didn’t have a lot of broken strands but it looked pretty awful nonetheless.


ebonyugo-06I also like that the seat is solid weaving—no gap towards the front the way more are done.
ebonyugo-07 ebonyugo-08Love that clean line!


ebonyugo-11These chairs often have a lot of visible knots.  This was the only visible one on this chair, at the lower outside back.
ebonyugo-12 It takes a little more work—mostly math and measuring—to weave it without knots, but it can be done.   There are two cord joins in the lower rail above.


This entry was posted in mid-century modern, Woven Danish paper cord, Yugoslavian folding chair and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Another Yugoslavian folding chair gets new life

  1. I have the same chair and footstool. A Yugoslavian knockoff of a Hans Wegner chair. No one here does Danish cording. I’m afraid to ask, but how much would you charge to ebonize and reweave the seat and stool?

    • MCR says:

      There’s not much point in telling you my rate for weaving since people charge wildly differing rates depending on their business set-up, their overhead costs, and what part of the country (or the world) they’re in. I also don’t publish rates in comments on my website because eventually they will change but people see the old quotes.

      I also don’t do refinishing on clients’ pieces, only on the few things I’ve picked up here and there that need it, that I bought to resell. I don’t have room to do it and it takes me longer to do than it would a professional refinisher. The good news is that lacquer is relatively easy to strip and it’s a very common finish, so you should have no problem finding someone local to do that part of it. Ebonizing with ink is also very easy, just brush the ink on with a foam brush, let dry, do a light sanding where needed, apply second coat, let dry, and apply paste wax finish.

      These chairs are not too hard to ship since they fold up pretty flat, so maybe you can find someone who weave and is willing to deal with return shipping. Good luck!

  2. Taylor C says:

    Hello! I’m currently redoing my own folding chair. Any chance you could let me know how much cord is required for this piece? Any help would be great! Thanks!

    • MCR says:

      I don’t know offhand without doing the math because I work off 11 lb spools of cord. But I can tell you that a dining chair with the same weave pattern, measuring about 18″ wide x 17″ deep takes around 2 lbs. So just figure that area in square inches and compare it to the area of your chair’s seat and back in square inches and go from there.

  3. Annette Blum says:

    Yugoslavian chairs! Yippee! I just passed my mom’s that we have had for decades to my son. They last forever and are surprisingly comfortable.

    • MCR says:

      They are good looking and comfortable but you do have to watch the joints and get them reglued when they start to get wobbly. When a chair joint is loose, there is more strain on the rest of the joints and the risk of more serious damage starts to go up.

  4. brad baker says:

    Hello – I am tackling this same project – ebony and all! I figured out how to hide the new cord along the top and bottom rails during the warp strand weave. But how did you add new cord during your left to right weaving without it being visible? Did you splice end to end? I don’t see any knots, did you use tacks? Thank you for sharing all your awesome work!

    • MCR says:

      I think on this one I was still tacking on the inside surface of the side posts. If you use 5/8″ wire nails it’s a bit easier and always tack the new strands on at the loop end, that way you only have to do one tack. You can’t see cord joins in these photos because of the camera angles and the lighting.

      Now I just splice. It takes a bit longer but it is way less visible. I recommend doing some practice splices to get the hang of it first.

      To do a nearly-invisible splice, I first figure out exactly where I want it to fall in the weave, which on these chairs is mostly just NOT where the cord wraps around the post. I prefer to work it out so that the splice is on the underside of the weave or the back of the chair, but it’s ok if it ends up on the more visible side.

      Next, untwist about 1.5″ of the cord at the end—just the three plies. Don’t untwist each ply.

      Cut one of the plies off at about 1.5″ from the end.

      Repeat on the end of the new strand, except cut TWO plies off. Now you have two cord ends that will match up if you retwist them together.

      Now, tear off a scrap of brown kraft paper from a thin paper bag, or just untwist and flatten out a piece of paper from a ply of paper cord. It should be a little over 2″ long and maybe an inch wide—no wider.

      Do a dry fit so that you understand how the two ends twist together. Trim as needed so they fit together well. Then pull apart, coat with a bit of yellow wood glue (white glue is ok if that’s all you have), and re-twist them together. Spread the scrap of kraft paper with glue on one side and wrap it smoothly and snugly around the whole spice. Squish it into the cord so that it takes on the twisted texture of the cord.

      The splice will be very slightly thicker than the original cord but not enough to be noticeable in the weave unless you’re looking for it. If it’s significantly thicker, try again and make sure you don’t use too much paper to wrap. The wrap is just to reinforce the splice.

      Let the glue dry for 10-15 minutes, then continue weaving. When weaving a double strand you will have to do two splices—just stagger them so they don’t end up next to each other in the weave. I usually do them 6-8″ apart, sometimes more.

      This is also a great technique to use on the seats of Yugoslavian folding chairs that the long slots on the sides of the seat. There’s no good place to tack new cords onto those seats, and a knot will show no matter where you place it, unless you put the knot inside the slot–which I used to do and is a HUGE pain the neck to get right. Splices are infinitely easier.

  5. Paola says:

    Hi, we have one of these chairs passed on from my husband’s mother. The problem is that it is starting to crack in the top of the front right leg just above the slot where the cord is wrapped around the wood. I noticed that the crack tends to open, and get worse, each time we sit in the chair. We tried flying, but no success. Do you have any suggestion? Thanks Paola

    • MCR says:

      First, what do you mean by “we tried flying”? I’m wondering if it’s a technique I’ve never heard or maybe just a typo?

      What I would do immediately is to open the crack as much as possible–very gently—and work some yellow wood glue into the crack from all sides. To do that, lay a line of glue along the crack and then push it into the crack by swiping your finger or something like a credit card back and forth until the glue has been worked into the crack. Repeat for the other sides if they’re accessible, then repeat until no more glue can be worked in.

      Wipe off any excess with a slightly damp paper towel.

      Next, clamp the crack closed if you can. If there’s no way to get a spring clamp or C-clamp into place, just let it sit.

      You might want to also drive a screw through both pieces, if there’s a way to hide the head of the screw. Pre-drill, of course.

  6. Celia says:

    I’ve been stalling on tackling my own version of this folding chair, as I couldn’t find instructions that would enable me to proceed with any kind of confidence, until I found your site and wonderful sketches.
    My own chair is pretty sad: cracked side rail, dry and thirsty wood, torn cording on seat and back and a chipped black lacquer finish. Still, it’s too lovely to trash and good design deserves a second (and third) chance.
    The restoration of the wood has worked out nicely. Next up, the back. Then the seat. Wish me luck and thank you so much for sharing your substantial expertise.

    • MCR says:

      Best of luck to you! Make sure all the joints are tight before you start weaving. Sometimes there is a small brad or staple through the tenon on the underside of the frame–this has to be pulled out or cut before the joint can be knocked apart for re-gluing.

      Also, the tenons on these often do not fit very snugly. You can make them much stronger by knocking them apart, scraping as much old glue off as you can, re-gluing with yellow wood glue (making sure to square up the frame immediately). Then after the glue dries, drill a hole through the frame and tenon and drive a wood dowel through with a bit of glue on it.

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