Jacobsen Series 7 dining chairs restoration

I think what makes these dining chairs so special is the cute curve around the hips. Apparently, a famous Arne Jacobsen quote, is “The primary factor is proportion.” And you can really see it in this chair. The Series 7™ designed by Arne Jacobsen is (according to Fritz Hansen) by far the most sold chair in the history of Fritz Hansen and perhaps also in furniture history.

These reproduction dining chairs came into my workshop in November, rescued from under a tarp left out in the constant rain of North Vancouver this time of year. They had that classic shape and a sturdy frame, but chips and dings to the seats had made them sad. And the faded red laminate finish while bulletproof, was seriously lacking in style.

A pretty simple restoration all up, but as with all of my projects it took time, patience, and a lot of sandpaper J.

First of all, to fix those chips out of seats I went with JB Weld Plastic Weld Epoxy Putty. This stuff is amazing for fixing all kinds of plastic, laminate, fibreglass and other things. You simply rough sand and clean the area first, cut off enough from the stick, mix it in your hands until it is a consistent colour, and then stick it over the area you need to repair.

Here are my top tips for using JB Weld in furniture restoration.

  • Keep it room temperature before you use it. It won’t mix well if you bring it out from a cold space like a garage.
  • Cut off only what you need, but you must have enough of the epoxy and the hardening agent (the outside layer of the stick) in order for them to react together.
  • Work fast, as after about 10 mins it starts to harden and is tough to work into your repair area.
  • Only leave as much on the furniture as you need, or you will be sanding forever. It cures very hard which is great, but the more you leave on, the more you have to sand off!

Step-by-step guide

All the steps in the restoration, in order, were as follows:

  • Removed the frames from the seats, and saved all the screws / other hardware for reuse.
  • Scuff sanded seats and frames with 120 grit sandpaper.
  • Sprayed the frames with Rustoleum Metallic Titanium Silver (love this paint) – 2 coats, with a fine sand (220 grit) in between each coat.
  • Epoxy filled small chips in the seats, let it cure, sanded to keep original shape.
  • Primed the seats, followed by a smooth sand with 220 grit sandpaper.
  • Spray painted the seats with high quality navy blue acrylic paint – 3 coats, with fine sanding in between each coat.
  • Final finish with two coats of Minwax Polyurethane Wipe-On (water based) – provides extra tough durability against scratches, without the amber hue of an oil-based polyurethane.

I guess I could go on and on about each stage of this restoration and all the products used. But I’ll use them again so will save this for some future posts.

Final result

The final result is looks good to me. The navy-blue seat with silver frame gives it back some classic style, while the polyurethane add some gloss to the finish and should be tough enough to handle some kids and maybe a dog.

I hope someone out there looking to buy modern furniture in Vancouver enjoys at least 10 years of dining in on these beautiful curvy chairs, inspired by the classic Series 7 design by Arne Jacobsen.