First here's a little background info on the chairs.
- November: I ordered a pair of Herman Miller/Eames shell chairs from Ebay and was SUPER excited when they came!
- Late November: I picked out a fabric to reupholster them ..
- December: Still researching reupholstering ... a little less excited
- January: Decided to get a quote from a shop in LA who specializes in Eames refurbishing (way too high for what we're looking for). Quote from a local reupholster - we ended up running out clutching to our chair after they dropped one on the floor and wanted to staple through the fiberglass.
- Late January: Decided that reupholstering them was too hard, sand off the foam, and expose the bare fiberglass.
- February-June: Sat in garage partially finished
In between and after there was a lot of sanding. David will go into the specifics of the sanding process, but it wasn't fun ... Also, just a reminder that this is how we did things, since we didn't have all of the correct power tools. So there would be a faster, easier way to do it with the right tools. I guess the excitement of the chairs overcame us :)
David will share our process!
Hey this is David, Sarah's husband and diy project partner. Last weekend, we finally wrapped up the eames chairs and Sarah ask me to share the process with you all today.
Unfortunately, the upholstery was shot. Annabelle is always obsessed with smelling any nasty upholstery and foam that comes on our project furniture...
First we removed the original upholstery. It is sewn to a plastic band that is formed to clamp the edge of the fiberglass around the whole chair. Starting a the joint in the middle of the seat, cut the first few threads to get it started and then begin prying it off working around the side. once around one side, it will pull off exposing the foam.
Now with the just the old glue remaining, its time to start sanding. With glue from the '70s and fiberglass, a respirator is a must (and long sleeves/pants). Using our orbital sander, I started with 120 grit and sanded off most of the glue. When the glue was almost gone, I switched to 220 grit and finished removing all the glue and worked on any spots where there was any scratches. I also sanded off the remaining clear on the back and bottom of the chair with the 220. I then went over the whole chair by hand with 320 grit to make sure there were no viable scratches from the sanding.
We visited a local shop that makes surfboards out of fiberglass to see what they use to seal the boards. They used Wet Look sealer by Behr from Home Depot. We tried it ourselves, though it went on shiny, it didn't dry shiny. Sanding more in between coats may have brought out the shine more, but after sanding the entire piece, we were sanded out. For now we will leave on the sealer and when we get back to Maryland, we are going to apply automotive clear glossy coat to the fiberglass (by a friend that we trust).
The original clear coat was oxidized and the aluminum was full of dents and scratches. The first step was to remove the remaining clear and sand out all of the scratched and dents using a combination of hand sanding and the orbital sander with 120 grit.
|front has no sanding, back is almost finished|
|in between sanding, still a lot of scratches|
After all of the hard work sanding, I used Mothers Aluminum Polish. This is the step that finally pays off. You take some of the compound on a rag, rub it on the metal until a black residue appears and then you buff the residue from the metal and you are left with a mirror like finish.
|before and after|
p.s. (this is Sarah) I may make a cushion for them too ... I ordered fabric, so fingers crossed, I can figure it out!