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Ole Wanscher wood ID from France & Daverkosen

Category
Product design
- 23 Aug 2015 -
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Product design

Very difficult time using the DA photo hosting "upload". Keeps freezing up my browser. Hopefully, I got it done this time.


I'm just trying to identify the wood on this rocker. Thanks


Ole Wanscher wood ID from France & Daverkosen
Designer(s)
Country
United States
Functions
chairs & stools
Periods
1950 - 1959

Comments

- 23 Aug 2015

The removable spring assembly is beech I am fairly sure and has almost no visible grain nor is it stained. I don't believe the balance of the chair is beech however, but will differ to the majority. It was my understanding that they only produced rosewood and teak models. There are a few "ebonized" pieces searchable out there. Could this have been an ebonized version that was stripped and stained?

- 23 Aug 2015

http://www.pamono.com/rocking-chair-by-ole-wanscher-for-france-son-1960s

I suppose it is possible that your chair has been stripped and stained, though I see no obvious evidence to support the notion. It is obvious, however, that it's neither teak nor rosewood, so it's anybody's guess.

A sharply focused closeup of the end grain would help to confirm species. The only other remote possibility would be one of the European oaks, but it appears as beech to my eye. Leif is better at wood IDs than I am, so go with what he says.

Of course, HowardMoon is quite reliable, too!

Nice unusual example either way.

- 23 Aug 2015

The chair is a very early production and made from beech.

It is my understanding that the furniture offered by France & Daverkosen during the companies infancy was produced in beech and this chair probably dates from the time before teak and rosewood was introduced and used on an industrial scale by the company.

- 23 Aug 2015

It looks quite stained to me. Photo 4 shows scratches that have absorbed more stain than the rest of the wood because the grain gets roughed up and becomes more absorbent. There's just a general uneveness to the color, too. And the one or two places where end grain are pictured look much darker, too.

I would consider getting it professionally lacquered in black and then get cushion covers made in a spectacularly beautiful Danish wool.

- 23 Aug 2015

Oh, Spanky! You know I'm a big fan, and I don't come here to argue, but I must differ here. Daddy-o's chair is quite possibly all original as is and it would be a shame to paint over all that beautifully figured grain.

- 23 Aug 2015

While the original beech finish might have been stained, I'm also going with the amateur stain job by a former owner. And I think the evidence is right there in the photos, in addition to the uneven stain job.

I have a Wanscher fd109/2 teak-stained beech settee with the same old France Daverkosen stamp. The stamp is an imprint brand that should be black and distinct from the adjacent wood. The stamp (as well as the nearby screw) in the OP's closeup photo appears to have stain on top and in the grooves.

But, with apologies to Aunt Mark, I could be wrong.

- 23 Aug 2015

Sorry, my memory failed me. I actually have a different stamp on my settee, but my rationale still remains the same.

- 23 Aug 2015

cd, the F&D/John Stuart stamp was apparently sometimes foil impressed, too, which could easily have been removed by stripping whereas carbon from hot branding would not.

http://shard1.1stdibs.us.com/archivesE/upload/8329/31_13/aad_3488/aad_34...

You're probably correct that the chair has been refinished.

P.S. The wood in the link to the stamp also appears to be beech, no? Perhaps these examples aren't as unusual as I imagined.

- 23 Aug 2015

I will agree with everybody that it is beech. Stained beech. It is exactly as HowardMoon say (he is the authority) an early France and Daverkosen piece designed by Ole Wanscher. It is model 110. Model 109 is the related armchairs that could be stretched into a settee (2 seat sofa) as model 109/2. It is possible it might have been stretched further at some point as 109/3 or 109/4, but I don't have proof of that, just the knowledge that other such models were stretched to those lengths.

As to the stain, I am not certain, but I strongly think it has been stripped and re-stained. The color on there right now looks a lot like what you would get with a "dark walnut danish oil." Basically more of the color in the oil finish deposits in the more porous parts of the wood, and the rays in the wood, being very dense, absorb very little of it. So the rays remain very light while the rest of the wood darkens. By contrast what I believe the Danes generally did with beech was to seal the wood with a clear sealer of some sort, and then apply over that, a colored finish. This resulted in a more even tone to the wood. Selig chairs were also done this way.

Here is an example of a chair that I doubt has been re-finished, note the different tone of the finish, and most especially the lower contrast difference between the rays and the rest of the wood:
http://www.adoremodern.com/objects/seating/beech-wood-easy-chair-by-ole-...

Finally, I don't think that these earlier stamps were foil impressed (having gold in the impression), so I don't think that tells us a lot. I will look around and see if I can find an earlier stamp like this to correct myself.

And I think I actually prefer the wood done the way this chair is. I actually really like the rays in beech. I would like Danish stained beech piece more if they were all done this way.

- 24 Aug 2015

tktoo, it is the piece of wood at the bottom of the frame of photo 1 that convinces me more than anything else that the chair is stained. The color is very uneven on this piece and the color doesn't follow the wood grain at all. I would guess that whoever stripped the original finish was getting tired of the process and left the underside only half done. The stain didn't soak in where there were patches of original finish. I've done this myself (not on anything of value!) so it's a very familiar look to me.

I like the rays of the wood too but the stain has to be even to look natural, otherwise what's the point? I still vote for black lacquer!

- 25 Aug 2015

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. I agree that the wood is beech. I also agree that it was either stained or dark oiled post production.

Although beech is not classified as "exotic", I would have to say that the choice of the particular pieces used in the building of the chair certainly rank an "extraordinarily unique" if not exotic. I can not imagine putting a coat of paint over these incredibly beautiful grain patterns.

As you already know, this chair disassembles. I was not aware of that fact. Once I got a side off it was easy to tell the original finish.....particularly because the DIY sinner applied the finish without dis-assembling it. How they managed to do this, I have no idea. The chair was simply clear oiled in it's original state.....a couple shades lighter than present.

Unfortunately, I will not be the one to decide the fate of this chair. I must part with it. Regardless, it was quite a score for here in Montana where "vintage" furniture generally implies a wagon wheel motif. I walked right by it the first time, but something pulled me back. It had the most horrendous fabric you can possibly imagine. A scarring 90's Bill Cosby sweater fabric. When I got it back to the shop, I unzipped the cushion to find the originals intact and in pretty decent condition.

Thanks again for your input. I am uploading some photo for posterity.

- 26 Aug 2015

See, to my eye any beauty in the wood grain has been ruined by that blotchy stain job! Maybe the next owner will sand it all off.

- 27 Aug 2015

I agree. Sand it off and use a clear oil finish. Thanks

- 27 Aug 2015

Spanky, et al- How much work is that? And would you first use a stripper to release the color? What grit series would you recommend? Bottom line, is it do-able by an amateur..... a detail oriented amateur?

- 27 Aug 2015

If you are going to go to the trouble of sanding the oil off and refinishing, you might consider studying the original, factory proper finish and duplicating it. If Ole Wanscher was happy with it, maybe that means something. It is perhaps the only finish everyone here would agree deserves to be on there. (Even if they might actually might another finish more, as I would).

Also, it may not be possible to go to a clear oil finish from the finish it has. The color may have soaked in deep enough in random places that it would not be advisable to sand that much wood off.

- 27 Aug 2015

Sanding is a lot of work. You use a coarse grit to remove all the stained wood and then progressively finer grits to smooth the roughness out. And in the end, you have a vintage chair that is essentially new wood: no patina at all.

Beech was often finished with black lacquer or clear lacquer with pigment added to give the beech the look of teak or walnut. On its own it ages to a sort of peachy color that I personally am not crazy about.

I don't find the grain very interesting either---not that my opinion on that matters much! Though I do think that most Danish designers considered it a more utilitarian wood, not one to showcase in most of their pieces.

Some classic Danish pieces were and still are offered in black lacquer (not the same as paint, by the way)--- including the lounge chair version of your rocker! Though I guess the one here could have been refinished. The description did not mention it if it was.

- 27 Aug 2015

I have seen a catalog for early France and Daverkosen, and this rocker is in it. There is no mention of a black lacquer finish. It is my belief that this early France and Daverkosen stuff only came with one finish, which was a medium brown semi-opaque finish (it had to be semi opaque, as I said above, to get a uniform finish).

I think that the black lacquer finish was more common with designs produced by FDB.

- 27 Aug 2015

leif ericson- The article is very helpful, thank you. Finishing beech looks a little more difficult than other woods. I suppose the initial finish was likely applied with a toner to make the color even. Do you think they mixed it with a varnish or ?? and sprayed it on? The exposed portion does have a look of teak, but may have changed over time. I guess at this point I will probably drop the desire to make it look original in favor of making look it's best. Yet I'm still not ready to apply an ebony finish (yet).

It actually looks like it may be fun to try and refinish this piece. I worry that I may drive myself crazy trying to perfect the color (evenly) and being satisfied with my initial color choice. I like his final example with the dye/glazing technique. What do you think of that one and what do you think would be the best coloring to shoot for? I would like the chair to look original but I have no desire to make it look like teak. I have a house full of teak & medium walnut and would prefer the chair to stand out as a individual piece.

I don't particularly want to spray it either. I'd prefer to do it by hand if that matters.

Thanks

- 27 Aug 2015

I think it is entirely possible that the Danes used a technique like that. The important point is that a tinted danish oil finish will not create an original looking finish because of the how Beech unevenly absorbs tinted oil.

Selig chairs that I have been forced to re-finish due to water damage seemed to have a thick layer of stain as their first coat (which unevenly absorbed into the beech). And then over that a thick layer of clear finish was added. It is possible that the first layer could have been an aniline dye and then a thick stain; I don't know. But basically the lower colored layer was thick enough that it was semi-opaque and covered over the wood uniformly diminishing the natural appearance of the wood (and especially the rays).

You should also bear in mind that these finishes change color over decades as UV light burns out the darker colors. For instance many Selig pieces finished in "Saddle" stain have become slightly green-ish. So the color you are looking at on a piece with an "original" finish may well not be the original color.

- 27 Aug 2015

I would definitely go down the road of an ebony stain.

I have had a couple of experiences with trying to get dark stain out of beech..both of them bad.

The first was the beech base of a Wegner heart table that had been painted black. I tried everything including sanding and oxalic acid but never got rid of the slight shadow trapped in the fiber of the grain.

The other was the beech treads on the stairs in my house. This time more of a black stain had been used rather than paint. I ended up taking a belt sander to them which must have taken a few mill off the surface. They look much better however there is still some residual shadowing to the grain.

Why do people feel the need to paint over perfectly nice timber?.

- 27 Aug 2015

That's true. Painted wood is a frequent subject of my complaints. Although i do see a slight contradiction in your recommendation to cover the beech with an ebony finish (no offense). And yes, I do realize it is not paint.

Perhaps once I sand the chair down, I will have a better idea of what is possible. If I can not remove the color with a light to moderate sanding, there may not be another option. I am still wondering if a stripper type scrubbing or any other process that might lighten the wood to start? Is this a bad idea? It was actually suggested by my local wood doctor. There chair does not appear to have any sealer or finish other than the stain (perhaps it was a combination stain/sealer), but "Woody" seemed to think a stripper scrub would lighten the chair and may reduce the sanding.

- 27 Aug 2015

That brings up an interesting question: what do I do about the France & Daverkosen, etc imprint? Block it off?

- 27 Aug 2015

I've used aniline dye followed by a good quality, penetrating oil stain of the same color and had nice, even results with Beech. That's what I would suggest. It would be a pain to sand that entire chair evenly... I would try giving a healthy dose of liquid stripper before you go the sanding route... fair chance that most of it comes off.

- 28 Aug 2015

I would not expect much from stripper, but if you do, go straight for the heavy stuff with methylene chloride (just read the label). It is hard enough getting every surface on a chair, so getting them all 3-4 times with a soy or citrus stripper will be particularly onerous. The methylene chloride stripper will probably do what it is going to do the first time around.

You will then probably need to sand.

I expect you will then still see areas where color has seeped in.

And there is one other thing you can use here that will probably be effective. Two part wood bleach. It is dangerous stuff. And It is not easy to buy. I found no problems find thing two parts separately, though. Part A is crystalline 100% sodium hydroxide AKA lye, which is available as a drain cleaner. Part B is 30% hydrogen peroxide, which is sold in some natural food stores. (This is not normal pharmacy grade hydrogen peroxide, it is 30%). You would don a space suit, mix up some lye, and paint it on. Then when it dries you would apply the hydrogen peroxide. Again wearing the chemical protection space suit, seriously.

It will bleach the color right out of the wood. But since beech is nasally light it wouldn't really look much different than when it was fresh cut.

Then you have to add the color back...

- 28 Aug 2015

"Although i do see a slight contradiction in your recommendation to cover the beech with an ebony finish (no offense)."

None taken. If it was up to me, I'd get it redone in black lacquer by a professional (because if I did it there would be drips and sags, guaranteed). I hate when people ruin beautiful wood by painting it. I hate it! But this is beech, which I personally don't consider to be a gorgeous wood, and it's been stained, which renders it way less good-looking. My experience with removing wood stain has been pretty bad, and I'm at a point in my life where I would rather just make the best of it. I also happen like black lacquer a lot---not everything black lacquered, but one chair in a room can be a real standout.

I hope that clarifies my stance. Carry on.

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