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Selig Chairs Grain Pattern - Shoddy Refinish Job or Natural Pattern

Section
Repair
- 01 Jan 2018 -
23 posts / 0 new
#1

I married a pair of Selig walnut lounge chairs that both needed to be refinished. I had them both refinished and although the grain pattern doesn’t match, one of them seems to be off in such a way that I’m confused as to whether or not it was the way it was refinished or if it’s just the natural grain pattern. I was assured it was sanded down properly and I have never had anything but excellent work done by this person. I think it may have to do with it being refinished in a lighter stain than the original but can’t be sure because the chair was in really bad shape when I got it, and the grain pattern couldn’t be distinguished.


Question is whether it’s worth getting sanded again in hopes to improve the appearance or if there is nothing that can be done and if it’s just luck of the draw sort of thing.


I’ve attached a picture of both arms. As well as a picture of both chairs next to each other.


Selig Chairs Grain Pattern - Shoddy Refinish Job or Natural Pattern
Designer(s)
Country
Denmark
Periods
1960 - 1969

Comments

- 01 Jan 2018

Nothing natural to the grain of the wood is responsible for the uneven coloration and I can't understand a professional refinisher letting the one go out the door looking that way. You're due either a refund or another try at getting it right.

- 01 Jan 2018

Those chairs are not walnut, but rather stained beech. The reason they look that way is that beech does not stain evenly. The original factory finish was multiple coats of various products that allowed for a more even stained finish. I have not yet seen any “recipes” for mimicking this original finish in restoration efforts.

- 01 Jan 2018

I’m thinking perhaps the chair in question is indeed stained beech. Here is a picture of the chair when I first bought it, picture from the listing. The second picture is one comparing the arms of the two chairs. The third picture is the one of the chair (darker color) that was already in good condition that may in fact be walnut but not sure at this point.

Am I looking at one beech and one Walnut, although both were refinished using the same stain and match in cooler now. Or are they both beech. In any case I will most likely ask them for them to be redone, using a dark walnut stain to mask the grain and get them looking even.

- 01 Jan 2018

I’m thinking perhaps the chair in question is indeed stained beech. Here is a picture of the chair when I first bought it, picture from the listing. The second picture is one comparing the arms of the two chairs. The third picture is the one of the chair (darker color) that was already in good condition that may in fact be walnut but not sure at this point.

Am I looking at one beech and one Walnut, although both were refinished using the same stain and match in cooler now. Or are they both beech. In any case I will most likely ask them for them to be redone, using a dark walnut stain to mask the grain and get them looking even.

- 01 Jan 2018

Definitely stained beech.

When beech is stained, as Cd was talking about, the grain takes the stain differently. Some areas will soak the stain into the grain pretty deeply (especially the end-grain). To remove this stain, one must sand quite deep. I think it is this heavy sanding that worries most refinishers, as you need to be very conscious of what you are doing to maintain the original sculpting of the piece, and not compromise the design or structural integrity.

In my first stained beech refinishing attempts (a pair of Wegner-esque Yugo folding rope chairs), I was amazed at how deep I needed to sand, and I still did not get all of the pigment out. If you dont get all the pigment out, the grain ends-up looking 'dirty'. The results are uneven and mottled (as you are seeing on the arms of your chair), much worse usually than what was started with. These issues seem to be made worse with increased weathering of the original finish.

I have found that there is really only 2 good options for DIY refinishing of deeply stained or weathered beech:

1. Try to repair the original finish
2. stain black with india ink or lacquer

There are certainly more 'professional' options, but without the ability to spray toners and a very strong understanding of applying finishes, there just are not many good options to get back to the original faux walnut finish.

I have a Folke Ohlsson lounge chair for Dux, that is walnut-stained beech. I am facing the same decision on how to improve it. Fortunately, the finish is in far better shape than the Selig chair that you have, so I hope to get favorable results with #1 above.

The person refinishing your chairs is either going to need to sand much more deeply, or figure out how to apply stain/toner combinations to even out the mottling.

Beech, Birch and Maple are very difficult to refinish once darkly stained, and I would strongly urge any DIY refinshers out there to learn how to identify it, and steer clear until after they have lots of practice on inconsequential items.

- 01 Jan 2018

While there are other Selig chairs made with solid walnut or teak, I have only seen this design, model #596-15, in stained beech.

- 01 Jan 2018

These short little rays are the most easily identified characteristics of beech. It's not hard to ID this wood once you know what to look for. You won't see the rays on every piece of beech but that's because they are only visible on boards cut at a certain angle from the log.

http://www.core77.com/posts/24890/how-logs-are-turned-into-boards-part-1...

I've run into this issue with beech myself and even after lots and lots of sanding, some stain remained. I ended up ebonizing with permanent India ink, a very easy process, and loved the results. (But I'm also not a fan of trying to make a species of wood look like something it's not. It rarely works, at least not when the fake color gets scratched through here and there, or it fades to a third color altogether from sun exposure over the years. And yeah, ebonizing is supposed to make it look like ebony---but scratches in India ink are also super easy to touch up, and the issue of mismatched grain is minimized, so...)

- 01 Jan 2018

If you're not familiar with ebonizing, here's a Kofod-Larsen chair that I ebonized awhile back. It's beech. The original finish was a walnut-tinted varnish and stain that had turned an ugly green on the entire right side of the chair which I'm guessing was exposed to a sunny window for many years. Short of sanding it to death (and maybe not even then), this was the best option. (I'm sure there are some who will argue with me on this point, but oh well.)

The before photos don't show the green color very well, but trust me--it was a deep greenish brown. Very unfortunate.

- 03 Jan 2018

Every manufacturer of wood products has a disclaimer something like this randomly stolen one--

'Wood grain is a product of nature, and much like a fingerprint, no two grain patterns are ever exactly alike. This individualism is one of the most appealing factors of wood products. Soil and climate affect the growth characteristics of wood. The finest hardwoods have certain natural characteristics that cannot be hidden with a finishing process. These characteristics occur due to the fact that wood is a natural product and is affected by weather, climate, insects, birds, soil makeup, and natural growth patterns. These characteristics are apparent and are not to be misinterpreted as defects. Wood is a product of nature- and as such will display natural characteristics and variances that are unique to each and every cut. These characteristics are an integral part of the charm and beauty of real
wood - no two pieces are alike.'

- 04 Jan 2018

Thank you all very much for the responses and feedback. I’ve talked to him, explained things and he will redo them.

The question now is whether or not paying him and how much to pay him if so. Part of me feels that it should have been done correctly the first time or at least he should have realized the appearance wasn’t great and let me know before finishing them both and giving them back to me. Another part of me feels as though our lack of knowledge in working with beech would is what caused us to ask for them to be refinished in a way that resulted in what we got back.

Tricky to know how to approach the topic of how much we should pay for the redo. What is fair. We want to continue working with him and wouldn’t want to end that especially since his pricing is great for the quality of work.

- 04 Jan 2018

I think your self realization that your instructions to the refinisher were the cause of the result is the correct assessment. Don’t shift the blame for your mistake onto the refinisher who you acknowledge does excellent work. Consider that this mistake has been a learning experience for you both in bilateral communications which will result in a better working relationship down the road. Pay twice as much for the second refinishing to show your good faith.

- 04 Jan 2018

Well.

Politely ask the professional refinisher if there will be a charge for the re-do. And then stare him in the eyeballs...and absolutely say nothing until he/she responds. Certainly the answer should be "no-charge". Professionals build strong reputations by standing behind their workmanship. I am more concerned that the refinisher sent the pieces back with such a result...be it on beech, or any other wood.

Do consider slipping him $50. and a bottle of scotch. Don't pay for a re-do.

Don't,

Aunt Mark

- 04 Jan 2018

Zephyr and cdsilva's posts are most interesting and insightful to me and I think it's a real possibility that both of the OP's chairs are beech and that they've both been refinished.

I don't have a lot of experience refinishing beech, but enough to know that it behaves much like many other close-grain, furniture-grade hardwoods that accept pigment stains unevenly (i.e. birch, maple, cherry). The provided photos illustrate a rookie attempt, IMO, and the responsible individual should be grateful for the opportunity to correct the mistake and keep the original fee.

- 04 Jan 2018

Mark, I disagree. The OP told the refinisher what to do and he did it. When you tell someone you want a whisky and they pour you Jack Daniels, and you complain that this whiskey taste bad, well who is at fault? The guy who said I want a whiskey, or the guy who poured the whiskey?

Of course a nice bartender may take back the Jack Daniels and pour you something else, but any self-respecting bartender will also brand you an unpleasant unreliable customer. This is not good for a long term bar patron - bar tender relationship. He responsible thing to do is to order another whisky, pay for both, and leave a good tip because you spurned the first pour.

- 04 Jan 2018

Leif: I don't know much about staining beech. But I like your analogies.

- 04 Jan 2018

I'm not entirely clear on what the OP told the refinisher to do, but whatever it was, the end result wasn't good. It seems to me that a skilled refinisher would have an idea if a proposed plan will work for a particular species of wood. I know I've had to explain to clients why their particular choice of fabric won't work for their chair, or why their chair frame isn't suitable for a paper cord seat---I don't just say "OK, whatever you want!" and go ahead with their instructions.

- 04 Jan 2018

There is nothing wrong with the chair(s). If you want perfect color uniformity, perhaps consider designs manufactured in plastic.

- 04 Jan 2018

I very much understand your point, leif.

But would your wife tell her professional hairdresser how to evenly highlight her hair? The hairdresser should know what he/she is dealing with during a simple consultation. Skilled craftsman can't be expected to be 100% consistent, i realize. Certainly this is not an example of this persons best work. This workmanship would be unacceptable to me. A polite re-do is in order.

yup,

Aunt Mark

ps then I'd request that India Ink be used. As shown above. Up there. by spanky. Lovely. Feed the birds today!

- 04 Jan 2018

I asked the refinisher to have the chairs match the walnut finish for a previous pair he did for us.

I agree with Spanky that a skilled refinisher would have identified the potential problem and perhaps made suggestions instead of blindly following instructions. Sounds funny since he did exactly what I asked him to do.

The end result to me is something that’s not visually pleasing and feel that most people would agree. Which is a reason I believe why beech wood isn’t usually stained this way. I guess it really only matters that I don’t like it.

I’ll talk to him and see what we can work out. Perhaps somewhere in the middle will work.

- 04 Jan 2018

I asked the refinisher to have the chairs match the walnut finish for a previous pair he did for us.

So does it match?

- 04 Jan 2018

Hi Mark. The previous chairs were in fact walnut where as these turn outs out are beech. When I gave him this new pair I told him they were walnut and that I wanted them to match the last pair. The color does in fact match the last pair but since they’re beech, they don’t look right in terms of the grain and overall appareance.

I would think he should have been able to correct me and identify them as beech when I gave them to him to work on.

- 04 Jan 2018

I would think he should have been able to correct me and identify them as beech when I gave them to him to work on.

------------------------------

Yes. Agreed.

A bottle of scotch and fifty bucks is as far as I'd go. You two have a history. That's all.

ps . sweetie, I've been bitchy for a few days...but I just don't like your persons last round of refinishing. So sorry. We all fuck up. It's how we handle it from there...I guess.??

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