Reloved Vintage Dining Chairs

June 9, 2017

Those of you who have been with me here at Three Happy Folk since the beginning might remember the early stages of this project.  This blog began over two years ago (a little earlier than I was ready to) to meet a deadline of a contest that I was hoping to enter as a blogging contributor.  I laugh at myself now looking back and how little I knew about the time and effort a (good) blog actually requires.

Yet I was able to refinish one chair in time to enter the contest.  I lost interest in the other three chairs after that and dabbled in the blogging world occasionally like most do.  Since then the chairs have only been in the way.  Imagine how irritated Aaron was with them anytime he went digging for something in the garage; my God he is a patient man!

So a couple of weeks ago when the weather grew warmer and Mairead and I started digging out the summer toys from the garage I uncovered the remaining chairs and dusted off my trusty orbital sander and got back to work.  A few afternoons worth of work, the chairs were finally complete!

Even though they turned out beautifully, I have no use for these in my home and will be selling them.  I can picture them around a bistro table in a little breakfast nook by a bright window overlooking a garden.  If I had that, I’d keep the chairs.

My knowledge of refinishing furniture comes largely from the advice of my father and grandfather who are far better at wood work than I could ever be.  This is partly due to my “bull-in-a-china-shop” techniques and when I get to that point where I just want it to be finished, I have no mercy.  Of course, nothing comes without its imperfections but to the untrained eye, the chairs turned out beautifully.  The wood on these chairs was so nice and I tried to preserve that look by not staining the wood and only varnishing it.  However, the varnish changed the color a lot more than I had expected.  Nonetheless, I went with it.

The next step was to reupholster.  I purchased these chairs at a yard sale for $10 each and although the wood was solid and in excellent condition, the covers were old and needed to be replaced.  So old in fact, the seating was packed with hay!  After a little digging, I learned this is not uncommon and even some high-end furniture builders will use hay in their pieces.  I would love to know the history of these chairs, especially since the wood was so unique to anything me or Dad had ever seen, but I guess I’ll never know.

*I apologize for not having more photos of the whole process, once I get in the groove I forget all about my camera.  If you need more details on how to complete your own refinishing project, leave me a comment and I will be happy to help!

Reloved Vintage Dining Chairs

Materials I Used

4 dining chairs
An orbital sander
Sander paper
Additional sheets of sand paper
Tack cloth
Clear satin varnish
Additional padding
Upholstery fabric, measured and cut to fit

What I Did

I began by using an orbital sander to sand the existing varnish and stain of the wood.  I followed with sanding by hand to polish up any areas difficult to reach with the sander.  Sanding it by hand also gives it a more polished look.

Next, I cleaned off the first layer of dust with a duster, then used tack cloth to remove the rest.  This stuff is the bomb!  It gets every tiny little speck, allowing your varnish to have a nice smooth finish.

Once it is all dusted off, try to refrain from running your hands over the wood; the oils from your hands may leave discolored spots in the wood which don’t go away, even after stain or varnish is applied.

Then I applied 3 coats of clear satin varnish, allowing it to dry completely between each application.  It’s a waiting game.

Now for my favorite part, the fabric!  I removed the existing staples from the seat with a screwdriver and a pair of needle nose pliers.  I added some additional foam padding to the seat for extra comfort (bumpy side down).  Then using a staple gun, stapled the fabric in place.  Do this by lying the fabric face down and positioning the seat face down onto the fabric, then fold up and staple.  I like to do one or two staples, then do one or two directly across from it and keep doing a few staples on each side at a time as I go along.  This allows for a neat and tidy finish without wrinkles and pulling.  For the corners fold any excess fabric as neatly as you can and staple a few times.  It doesn’t have to be perfect and you can cut any excess fabric if needed.

Lastly, I screwed the seats back to the chairs and viola, new dining room chairs!  Now on to the next project! 🙂




By Three Happy Folk

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