“If they’re not holes, then what are they?”

Discussion in 'General Off Topic Forums' started by reydelaplaya, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. reydelaplaya

    reydelaplaya AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,611
    Location:
    Aguadilla, PR
    Yes, the punchline to the classic dad joke about the son/daughter asking dad about the holes in wood paneling; with dad replying ‘They’re knot holes.’

    Figured that would set the mood for what I’m asking your help on.

    If this isn’t walnut, then what is it?

    I’m currently refinishing the set of chairs I bought a few years ago at a yard sale.

    1F1FAFC0-DCE9-44DD-98DC-9B6B10F8FAEB.jpeg

    I picked these up a couple years ago as a potential refinish project because I instantly recognized the style as I was driving by and I’ve wanted a set of MCM dining chairs anyway. In all likelihood, they’re by Adrian Pearsall for CraftAssociates, and I knew that from the view out my car window even before I stopped - and that’s exactly why I stopped. There were two out front with a board across the seats with some odds and ends displayed on it. I asked if the chairs were for sale, and not only got a ‘yes’, but also a ‘we’ve got two more in back if you want all four’.

    “Of course I want all four. :D

    Didn’t even have to negotiate when they told me 10 bucks for the four of them.

    Enough backstory...

    According to the internet, there should be walnut under that mess of a tan paint job. Here’s a pic of a set from the net in what should be original look.

    [​IMG]

    I picked up some gel paint stripper today and started to disassemble the chair and remove the paint. But once I got a spot stripped down on one of the legs, this is what I found underneath:

    E9ADE688-9FEC-4AF0-B176-C52068F5E899.jpeg

    It’s a lighter colored wood with that dark pigmentation within the finer grain. It’s pretty evenly distributed over the pieces I’ve done so far, so I don’t believe it’s the original finish that’s absorbed into the wood. The original finish on these was visible in spots that the paint chipped off and in areas underneath that weren’t painted. It was a dark brown like the internet photo above. It was in pretty rough shape from what I could tell, which is probably why these got a coat of paint, but it was on the surface of the wood and came up with the stripped paint.

    After doing the ‘top handle’ of the back and one of the slats, I see that they all match as far as wood type goes, and it looks very nice. What I can’t seem to figure out is what type of wood this actually is.

    What I have determined is that it’s a golden blonde, and refracts light with interesting patterns of iridescence as I tilted it around under my overhead lamp.

    To get a better look at the grain, I fine sanded with 600 as to not remove any old patina, then wiped a thin coat of teak oil.

    25882527-1EC7-46FB-A640-A0ED961F3667.jpeg

    5E3DAC54-F4CC-4A85-907D-5DBCAED70B87.jpeg

    I assure you that the color of the wood in these two pieces is a very close match, and that the reason that ‘handle’ looks darker on one side is because of that refraction/iridescence.

    I have no idea what this wood is. I only know that while working with it, it is very familiar - as if it’s something I’ve worked with when I refinished furniture back in the 80s.

    Although the internet says it can sometimes come in a lighter yellow color too, I’m starting to think it’s probably not walnut. But it’s those darker flecks in the grain that make me think ‘well, maybe...’

    I’m probably still going to stain them a darker color, closer to the other pic from the net, but before I do, I’d kinda like to know what this wood may actually be.

    Any ideas? Please let me know what you think. Thank you. I’ll be posting more pics as pieces get stripped.
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  2. restorer-john

    restorer-john Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,848
    Location:
    Australia
    Light red meranti?
     
    Andyman and reydelaplaya like this.
  3. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,858
    Location:
    San Francisco Peninsula
    Mahogany

    Specifically Honduras mahogany

    John has a good call also but mahogany is more widely used.
     
  4. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,858
    Location:
    San Francisco Peninsula
    :no:

    Mahogany is absolutely beautiful faded and amber like you have now.

    buhl-dresser-01.jpeg images.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
    Beemerdoc and reydelaplaya like this.
  5. reydelaplaya

    reydelaplaya AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,611
    Location:
    Aguadilla, PR
    Wow, those were some fast responses! LOL Thank you both! ;)

    While you guys were replying, I was out on the net searching other Pearsall chairs to see if I could find a wood that looked similar (in hopes they’d identify it too). Most of his stuff comes up medium to dark wood, but this looks close.

    [​IMG]

    Mahogany would definitely be one of the woods I refinished back then - so that would explain why it felt so familiar. This wood has a really nice natural smell to it - once the last bit of moisture from the stripper evaporated and I hit it with 600, it gave off a really great smell. Does old mahogany smell good?

    Yeah, I’m already starting to agree with you about not staining darker. I certainly do like the way the wood plays with the light. Kinda torn because I had my heart already set on a darker walnut hiding under there, but I realise that that’s not what this wood wants to be... so again, natural color it’ll be with just some teak oil to bring it all out. Gonna have to find different upholstery now though. I was under the assumption that these chairs would be dark.

    Again, thank you both for jumping in here to help me out. I appreciate it.

    I’ll still post some pics tomorrow once I get the rest of it stripped. The stuff I’m using, Lanco Gel Strip, is making pretty light work of getting that old paint and finish off - though not quite as fast as the large tank of lye solution we used at the antique shop. ;)
     
  6. GuyK

    GuyK Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,960
    Location:
    Shoreline, Wa
    The first pic after hitting it with the stripping solution could be mahogany like 4-2-7 suggests, but your other photo looks more close-grained than that. Did Pearsall ever work with cherry? That's what your after photos are making me wonder.
     
    reydelaplaya likes this.

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  7. reydelaplaya

    reydelaplaya AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,611
    Location:
    Aguadilla, PR
    When I first saw the wood underneath, I also thought maybe it was cherry. But then again, I was pretty certain before I started that I was going to find walnut underneath. But now that I’ve got a few more pieces of the chair stripped, I think Dan has called the mahogany correctly. But now there’s an interesting twist.

    As I’ve been stripping parts, parts that have been previously stripped are sanded with 600, then wiped with a light coat of teak oil.

    There’s something that looks out of place...

    Top to bottom (and left to right), the top of the chair back, two of the slats, the right side seat support (that would be visible connecting the front and rear leg), and finally, the rear outer cross-brace that connects the left and right legs (it would be at the bottom of the slats).

    1373E796-900A-48C6-B522-E754BA8CBB4A.jpeg

    8607A8A6-1175-4B91-865C-26A87205D769.jpeg

    That right seat support and rear cross piece are ???

    I’ve still got other pieces under stripper right now so i can’t fully compare (the right rear leg/back and right front leg) but those two pieces would be joined by that seat support, so to me, it seems logical that they would be a pretty close match in color, but so far, that piece looks way lighter than everything else I’ve got. And of the side of the legs on that side that have already been stripped, it doesn’t look like they're going to be even close to that lightest piece.

    4C524BCD-4FAE-4A20-8FC4-69122EAE37F2.jpeg
    C50162E1-A48D-4C6D-926C-98BE9B4A1DF8.jpeg

    I’m wondering if maybe the mismatch in wood colors is why the surface had the uniform colored varnish.

    For the moment, I’m just going to keep stripping and fine sanding, and see what I get in total, but this is becoming even weirder as I go along. LOL

    It’s thundering, so I may need to pause this for the moment if it starts to rain, but maybe I’ll move inside to continue.

    Oh, and another thing... I’m using the standard cloro-methylene stripper, but it’s a gel. I’ve been using water to clean up the brush and bowl. The gel is nice because it doesn’t run, but on large flat areas it doesn’t spread quite as uniformly as I’d like. Do you think I can thin it out just a little with water?
     
  8. reydelaplaya

    reydelaplaya AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,611
    Location:
    Aguadilla, PR
    Well, I’ve got all but a couple legs done and I’m not sure what to think at this point.

    Remember this Volkswagen from back in the 90s?

    [​IMG]

    That basically sums up what the collection of multicolored parts that assemble to make my chair looks like. A large variation in colors, though all do seem to be the same type of wood (with maybe one exception being the back L/R span at the seat. It might be mahogany too, but it is heavy and dense for its size compared to the other parts.

    22B6ED3E-FCB7-4CBF-A940-727BF84DD03D.jpeg


    All the wood pieces have a cool refracting glow to them as the light shifts. Most surprisingly, that front leg that looks way too dark to be joined with its correct side rail. When I rotate that under the light, it flashes out some golden yellow at certain angles.

    On the bright side, I did manage to thin out the stripper with just a splash of water - doing so did exactly what I expected and didn’t seem to affect its potency. That made stripping larger flat surfaces much faster because it spread more evenly.

    I’m totally open to suggestions about possibilities of getting all this wood to be more uniform in color. Please let me know what you’d do. Thank you.
     
  9. Andyman

    Andyman Scroungus Stereophilus Subscriber

    Messages:
    28,470
    Location:
    15 miles North of Canada
    Also known as lauan or Philippine mahogany. We built stuff out of it in 7th grade woodshop back in 1964. I have a lamp and a magazine rack I made out of it.

    [​IMG]
     
    reydelaplaya likes this.
  10. faber12

    faber12 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,977
    Location:
    Northwest Ohio
    Some wood simply has a wide range of color variations, I don't think that is a problem...

    They are looking good there Rey.
     
    reydelaplaya likes this.
  11. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,858
    Location:
    San Francisco Peninsula
    A finisher blends the wood that is lighter.

    But let me ask you this, is there any semblance of order?
    All tops dark? all back slats light? all front legs dark?

    I have a 50s upholstered chair that came in the shop that went through a fire. I sanded it clean, it had hand caps on the arms made of one kind of wood. the front pencil legs where teak, and some other wood at the foot, the back legs are maple with the same wood as the front foot.

    This chair was made with the different woods and finished clear from the factory for that look. How do I know this? Because it doesn't make any other sense to use all those different color woods if they wanted a even look to the chair, it was the style, way out and groovy.

    I'll take some photos of it tomorrow.
     
    reydelaplaya likes this.

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  12. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,858
    Location:
    San Francisco Peninsula
    22B6ED3E-FCB7-4CBF-A940-727BF84DD03D.jpeg

    I would assemble the chairs without any glue and take a look at them. In this photo it looks like they wanted a two or three tone look. but also remember wood changes and fades over time. They might have had a more constant contrast when new.

    You also don't know if all the parts got mixed up prior to you working on them. Get everything striped, prep all the wood and clean the glue joints.

    With out glue, put them back together as you know them to be as one chair, loosely mocked up. Step back and look at all four of them together, do they all look the same, can you see that there was a multi wood color intent.

    Does moving one part of one chair to another chair help them both?
    Do you see numbers or making from past work or factory work on the parts that ID all the parts of each chair?

    Looking at the above photo more, I think I'm seeing Mahogany Family woods and koa wood. the second vertical board on the left side that looks to be the back seat board looks like walnut with knots?
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
    reydelaplaya likes this.
  13. Andyman

    Andyman Scroungus Stereophilus Subscriber

    Messages:
    28,470
    Location:
    15 miles North of Canada
    That dark leg with the whitish cross member is just wacky; we're those actually connected and uniform color?
     
    reydelaplaya likes this.
  14. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,858
    Location:
    San Francisco Peninsula
    I would say no and the intent wasn't to match.
    But we also have to understand most furniture like this was really cheap to start with. Also people back then where not as picky over things, fit and finish was better in 1955 than it was in 1935.
     
    reydelaplaya likes this.
  15. reydelaplaya

    reydelaplaya AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,611
    Location:
    Aguadilla, PR
    Thank you for your help Dan.

    Here’s what I can tell so far.

    With the way the dowel holes are drilled, there would only be one proper way to put the chair together. Besides the slats, the left parts and right parts wouldn’t be interchangeable. No factory markings or numbers, but I did mark the three back slats L-C-R so they go back in their original location.

    I am 99.999% sure I’m the first to take apart this chair. There were factory staples in the inner corner braces (that were a PITA to remove), and without removing those braces, there wouldn’t have been a way to remove anything beyond the back slats because every joint is deeply dowelled. Oddly enough, it looks as if the staples were a cost cutting afterthought - the corner braces are all drilled to accept screws at the 45°, but there are no screws in them or screw holes in the corresponding legs/sides.

    Underneath the tan paint is a layer of original ‘varnish’. It is/was a uniform color of dark brown similar to the pic I posted of the chairs from the internet. It was not paint, but seems to be like an old version of tinted polyurethane - I don’t know if they had that in the late 50s-early 60s, but something that gave the entire chair a consistent brown finish where the grain was still visible. Without a doubt it was placed *on top of* the wood because it all just melted off with the stripper leaving the bare multicolored wood beneath it. (Before I strip that last leg, I’ll sand through the tan paint on top and post a pic of the color/finish.)

    I have not stripped or even started on any of the other chairs to compare corresponding parts and colors. Tomorrow I can pull a second chair and splash on a little stripper on a couple different spots to see if the lighter/darker colors match up between the chairs; ie light colored side rails and dark legs.

    Pictured below is a closer-up shot of those parts you mentioned.

    From left to right:

    The back cross piece (visible side up) This piece is way heavier than it looks.

    Inner back cross piece (one you mentioned might be walnut with knots) Three screw holes for screws to pass through bottom of each slat and into outer back piece. That shiny dot is a broken staple that broke off flush with the surface. It is stuck down in there, and I’m not sure I should attempt to gouge it out. Pliers can’t grab it.

    Front cross piece (visible side up)

    Top: one of those interior corner braces I mentioned (see how they’re tapped for screws but have staples instead)

    61FD8759-6382-438C-8489-934E3CC84F2F.jpeg

    EDIT: Corrected description
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  16. reydelaplaya

    reydelaplaya AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,611
    Location:
    Aguadilla, PR
    Please consider posting a photo or two of your lamp and magazine rack. I think it would be great to see them. :D

    Thank you! Hopefully we’ll figure out what’s the best thing to do with the variations in color - leave ‘em, or attempt to stain them to be more consistent. Still don’t quite know yet. LOL

    What I’m finding under the paint seems like a dark brown varnish that would’ve made the whole chair pretty much one color. In the spots where the stripper didnt pull it up on the first try, i can see that it’s ‘clear enough’ to still see the wood grain underneath. That new kind of tinted polyurethane that creates a uniform color in top of the wood regardless of what’s underneath seems like the closest thing I can think of that describes it, though I don’t think that exact stuff was around yet in the 50s/60s.
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  17. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,858
    Location:
    San Francisco Peninsula
    I was talking about moving one part from one chair to the corresponding location to another chair, disregard as they might have never been apart.

    Staple guns, that sounds like your chairs are from the 60s or later. When gluing up the chair it was easy to hold the glue blocks in place with staples. After the glue set up they would have drilled pilot holes and put screws in and sanded the chair. Monday morning job, someone didn't put the screws in.

    This sounds like a totally sprayed on finish and color. Color added to the lacquer and tinted on the chair. The guy spraying them can be selective with the color, air brushing lighter boards darker to blend and then darken the whole chair to the sample color.

    This is not a simple finish for a non finisher and someone at home without big spray equipment. You might want to do all the grunt work, stripping, gluing and prepping the chair. Then bring them into a furniture finisher and have him do what ever color you want. Your end result will be a lot nicer.

    The best advice I can give anyone in finishing is "consistency"
    In order to be consistent from chair to chair or speaker to speaker, you do all the steps at the same time. Take the chairs apart at the same time (if needed) Do the repairs all at the same time, strip them all before doing anything else. Glue them all up together, then sand them all the same day. This way each step is done the same and there isn't days of gaps between the same step. People tend to work different from day to day.

    I cant start staining a bedroom set or dinning room set, doing a couple pieces on monday and maybe get back to the rest of it on thursday. None of it would match, my feel of wiping the stain and blending it would be different from day to day.
     
    reydelaplaya likes this.
  18. reydelaplaya

    reydelaplaya AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,611
    Location:
    Aguadilla, PR
    Thank for your tips and advice, Dan. I’ll do my best to follow through with what you said about doing each process to all at the same time. Kinda limited on workspace though, so disassembling 3 more chairs at once might make my house look more like an IKEA factory. LOL

    Well, I did manage to finish stripping that last set of legs. But before I put that pic up, here are the spots where you can see the original brown finish that was underneath the paint - it’s the best I could do since there’s no sanding through that thick shiny tan paint.

    5F3F4F53-47AC-4F74-BE20-1154AD893897.jpeg

    So. Here’s what we’ve been waiting for. The stripped, sanded, lightly teak oiled, mock-up titled:

    “The chair with one brown leg” (ca.1960)
    IMG_E6998.JPG
    IMG_E6997.JPG
    IMG_E7001.JPG
    IMG_E7003.JPG



    The teak oiled wood looks absolutely amazing in person. Almost everything about it screams leave it like it is. Just glue it, reupholster the seat with something that works, put it back at my dining table, and start on the others.

    But that one brown leg, just, IDK.

    I mean it’s funny, because like you mentioned before about the ‘Monday morning missing screws’ I wonder if that leg was also a Monday morning, or maybe a Friday at 4:55 pm.

    I’ve got to head out to the hardware store tomorrow to pick up some proper size fluted dowels. All but one were saved, but I think I’d rather replace all with fresh dowels when I go to glue. I’ll be using the same hide glue that I used in my veneering project last month since I know that’s probably a much better way to put this all back together (I’m pretty sure the way the dowels came out and what glue is left on them that’s what was originally used anyway).

    I’ll probably go ahead and glue this one up tomorrow. I don’t think there’d be too much trouble in the future if I wanted to stain darker to match that one leg even if it was already fully assembled. One thing I learned from earlier is that the hide glue doesn’t interfere with stain/finish like that stuff we use to clean records. LOL But leaving a final finish decision until after I see the remaining naked chairs would probably be the right thing to do. There’s no rush.

    Regardless, it looks way better than I anticipated, and happy I finally got this 2+ year old project started.

    Thank you all for jumping in and helping me out with my questions and added tips. I certainly do appreciate the big AK family we have here. :)

    - rey

    EDIT: Updated photos with a little color correction now that I've seen them on a computer screen.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  19. reydelaplaya

    reydelaplaya AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,611
    Location:
    Aguadilla, PR
    You know, I was just thinking and doing a little research on the net... It's only that one leg that really stands out - the others, although there are slight color variations are actually pretty consistent.

    Suppose I was to bleach it using the peroxide A/B method to bring it up to a closer shade to the rest? The more I look at this natural color on the rest of the chair, the more I really don't want it to be stained darker. This deep honey/amber color would look great at my dining table - way better than I was thinking before.

    https://www.woodmagazine.com/materials-guide/finishes/get-the-color-out-with-wood-bleach
    https://www.popularwoodworking.com/projects/bleaching-wood
    https://www.bobvila.com/articles/bleaching-wood/

    I mean... what could possibly go wrong? :D

    I'm not going to jump at it just yet, but it's now crossed my mind as a possible solution. The only other way I can think of doing it is to actually track down a little plank of mahogany and make a new leg using the old one as a template.

    Not sure yet, just kinda thinking out loud again.
     
  20. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,858
    Location:
    San Francisco Peninsula
    That's what I'm thinking, I'll explain some supper bleaching to get the leg lighter. Strip the dark leg again, in fact wash all the oil off that chair, and as I said get all of them to one stage done at a time. You can take one apart and strip it, pop it back together like you did this one to save space.

    But I would get them all stripped.
    Clean your glue joints with a file and drill the 3/8 holes
    Glue up all the chairs
    Sand all the chairs
    Wipe them down with lacquer thinner to determine areas that need bleaching.
    Do your bleaching
    Sand the bleached areas again because they will get a little ruff.
    Now you can start your finishing
     

Share This Page