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Folke Ohlsson Straps - Best way to replace

- 15 Jun 2017 -
9 posts / 0 new

I just got a couple of matching Folke Ohlsson for Dux Lounge chairs. The straps (gray) on one chair definitely need replacing as they've become brittle and would break apart with weight. The other seems to have good straps (white) as I was told the chair was used with plywood and never beard weight. Both chairs have the straps nailed to the frame.

I want to certainly replace the one with brittle straps but not sure if nailing them again is advisable. Looks like the wood is splintering on frame where nails are and nailing again may cause further damage. There are metal latches on which new straps could be hooked onto?

Overall I'm not sure which chair is strapped the correct way, if any and what would be the best way to restrap and ideally the way to strap while keeping original specs.

Thanks in advance.

Folke Ohlsson Straps - Best way to replace
1960 - 1969


- 16 Jun 2017

It looks like the metal slot bar has enough space for two thickness of strap?

If so, I would suggest the cinch method that older Selig chairs have. Cut a 3/8" dowel in 4 pieces just a bit shorter than each side of the seat frame. Then install the strap through the slot bar, around the dowel, then back through the slot bar, with the tail end of the strap _underneath_ the length of strap crossing the seat. Stretch the strap tight and repeat on the other end.

It would be best to flatten the dowel a bit to keep it from rolling, and put the flattened side towards the seat frame. You could do this with a hand plane, or a piece of coarse sand paper taped to a table. Or you could skip it, but you run the risk of slipping down the road.

I suggest working off the roll you purchase, and don't cut the strap until you have installed both ends. It is hard to know how long to make the strap, with the stretching, and you won't waste a bunch of strap through needing to leave a tail to pull on.

Oh, and the white straps look too loose to me. They should be stretched as taught as you can get them by hand. Loose straps make for an uncomfortable chair. The vast majority of the comfort is in these straps.

- 16 Jun 2017

I don't think I've ever seen those particular metal brackets (?) for webbing on Danish chairs. A variation on those was commonly used on American-made "Danish Modern" chairs and sofas but most Danish chairs used metal clips on the ends of the webbing strips, or the strips were folded at the ends and threaded through slots in the wood; dowels in the loops held them in place.

So I guess first I would try to determine if the metal bracket things are original. I don't see any old holes from any other fasteners so I'm guessing yes but someone else here may have more info.

Second, I'm kinda thinking that the webbing on both chairs was replaced at some point, mostly because of the kind of haphazard way it is trimmed on the corners. Some are cut pretty close and some have longer, less angled cuts. But this could just be the original upholsterer not being super precise. It happens.

Third, the lighter colored webbing looks a bit slack to me. Not nearly as slack as the gray, but it doesn't look taut. Even if it never bore anyone's wait, it is rubber and it has a shelf life of 20-25 years at best, then it just loses its reciliency. It has more to do with exposure to air.

And fourth, you are right not to put any heavy gauge fasteners like nails or upholstery tacks into that wood. If the brackets are original, I would redo it exactly as is but use a pneumatic stapler. Pneumatic staples are very fine gauge but they go in with a lot of force and they hold very, very well without disturbing the wood much at all. Any good upholsterer will have a pneumatic stapler if you don't wan to do it yourself, or you can rent a compressor with staple gun for a day and use it for whatever other projects you have sitting around (like that attic insulation or making an upholstered headboard or whatever. It's SO fun to use.)

If you do the straps yourself, get however many yards you need of the webbing but do not cut any before you start. Thread one end through one bracket from underneath to the top, then thread it through the opposite bracket top to underside. Staple the ends with two rows of staples, 3 or 4 staples in each.

Now pull the webbing taut plus a little, maybe 2". Pirelli webbing has a very stiff stretch so you won't get a lot out of it, but it should be very taut, no sag at all and not just straight. Staple it in place and THEN trim it. Do it this way each time. You need that extra length to hold onto to stretch it and if you cut each piece with enough to hold onto, you end up wasting a lot. It's expensive so you definitely want to conserve. (do calculate yardage to allow for an extra bit on the last strap, though.)

I hope this is clear!

- 16 Jun 2017

Leif and I were replying at the same time! And now that i read his reply, I very much agree with his solution with the dowels. It didn't occur to me that that may have been how the original was done. Tacking would be a quicker solution for whoever redid the webbing years ago.

And yeah, the webbing---when that is done correctly, you have a nice, firm base with some give to it. You can add whatever density of foam to that to customize the comfort to your liking. If the webbing is slack, you will feel a disconcerting hollow in the seat, even with very firm foam.

(I see plywood on seat decks all the time on top of webbing that is sagging and you can always feel it in a lounge chair---even though a taut webbing weave feels like it has almost no give when you press on it with your hand, it's got just the right amount when you sit on it. You need at least 5-6" of foam on plywood to keep from feeling that hard base.)

- 16 Jun 2017

If you absolutely have to re-do the straps like they are, and I don't think you should, and I don't think they were likely originally done as they are now, I would suggest using screws instead of staples or nails. Pre-drill the holes using a correctly sized drill bit for the pre-drilling the shaft thickness of the screws you use. Use brass screws with a slotted pan head and a brass washer underneath each.

If you don't want to use screws, but really want nails, then try to pry these nails out intact, and replace any you can't get out with their heads one with another nail with the same shank thickness. Then, this will be a pain to do, but RE-USE the old nail holes. If you must put in a new nail hole, pre-drill the hole.

Note that those metal slot things have to be original, even though I've never seen such a thing, because without them, the straps would have immediately either torn on the nail heads or pulled out the nails. The straps would have been but putting pulling force on the nails. The metal slots change the direction of force so that the strap is putting shear force across the nail shafts, and they are very strong that way.

I would advise against using anything pneumatic. The speed with which they put fasteners in can cause splitting because the wood can not re-adjust itself fast enough. Also, with slower methods, you get a bit of early warning if you are going to split the wood, and you can stop and change your plan. With a pneumatic fastener, you find out after the fact.

But again, I really would not re-do these chairs in the current way. The proposed dowel solution is an original solution of the era, and would work much better here. It might even be the original method.

- 16 Jun 2017

I respectfully disagree with you on the pneumatic stapler, Leif, based on my having used one for years and having shot hundreds of thousands of staples into wood with it, and also removed nearly as many staples when stripping old upholstery. I have seen wood split from the heavier gauge staples in an electric staple gun but not correctly spaced pneumatic staples.

- 07 Jan 2018

I actually am in the same predicament. I need to replace the webbing on 3 Folke Ohlsson chairs. They all have these metal, nailed in brackets which are really unusable once you get them out of there. Does anyone know where to get replacements for these? Also, whats the best way to stretch the webbing when the webbing is nailed within the frame as opposed to on top of it?

Thanks in advance.

- 09 Jan 2018

Hi John. I was never quite able to figure out how to best do this. I had them restrapped using green nylon straps. They were stapled to the frame as opposes to nailing. Stapling creates less stress on the wood. There were about 8/10 staples placed diagonally at the end of each strap, stretched, and then stapled at the other end the same way.

I had this done by someone and unfortunately didn’t take a picture of the bottom only the top. Here are the pictures of the chairs after restrapping.

- 09 Jan 2018

I have a Folke Ohlsson with original strapping still intact. Fortunately/unfortunately the person who reupholstered the chair left the original staps, but installed new nylon strapping over the old. The original strapping on my chair is Pirelli, and utilizes the same metal slot bar. Straps were stretched through the bar and cut-tacked to the frame.

The dowel method described above would be an elegant method for redoing the strapping, although not at all authentic. In this case however, I would not go for 100% authentic anyways, as thin-wire staples are a far superior method of affixing the straps to the frame, for all the reasons described above.

I will post pictures once I get to work, for reference.

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