Re-finishing antique walnut

I am restoring this old walnut office chair. The green material is not the most attractive, but looking past it I can see a beautiful and well made item.

antique office chair mid century

Other than some broken screws (see how I removed them here) the chair is in sound structural condition.

The wooden components are dark and have that musky smell I associate with antique stores. Fabreeze is certainly an option, but I wanted to get to the root of the issue and at the same time rejuvenate the exposed wood surfaces.

The picture below shows three of the small walnut pieces that link the legs. Together, they are a snap-shot of three stages of restoration:

walnut danish oil

  • On the left is an untouched piece. It has years of smell on it. The finish is dark and masks the nature of the wood underneath.
  • The middle piece has been scraped with a card scraper to expose the original wood. The grain can now be seen and the walnut smells like walnut should smell. Wonderful.
  • The piece on the right has a single coat of danish oil. It darkens the wood again, but the grain stands out. I didn’t want to add more coats because it runs the risk of it looking like it did before I began!

This process was applied to all the wooden components of the chair. The next challenge is to reupholster the seat and back.


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