MODERN DIY'S


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It seems that everyone and their dog is trying is get their hands on vintage Eames, Herman Miller, and Knoll just to name a few. So with my slim budget I have to find the busted, stained and decrepit pieces in hopes to rejuvenate them. This pair of Eames DCM chairs were purchased at different times so they are not a matching pair and they have both had some poorly done back surgery. Click “READ MORE” to see step by step on how I brought these chairs back to life.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
The one on the right already had the clear coat sanded off. The clear coat on the left one was already flaking off.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
The shock mounts on both chairs were hard and cracked.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
I disassembled the chairs and focused on the frames. I read somewhere that vinegar and tin foil worked wonders on chrome. It worked really well as the frames came out pretty new looking.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
Next was to remove the cracked hard shock mounts. It was fairly simple, get a chisel or something similar and tap it with a hammer close to the wood and they just popped right off.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
The mounts on the back are recessed into the wood a bit so I took a Dremel tool and cleaned out the area.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
Now that the shock mounts were all removed I obviously had to replace them. I found specialkproducts, a seller on eBay that has after market shock mounts. They have a package just for these chairs that have the smaller screw mount on the bottom.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the shock mounts from specialkproducts. The instructions were very simple and I had no problems mounting them to the chair. One trick I learned in the mounting processes with making sure the mounts line up with the holes in the metal frame is to screw the unmounted/unglued mounts to the metal frame first, set the seat or back on, then trace with a pencil, they should line up perfect when you actually glue the mounts on.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
I had to sand the old clear coat off the one chair as is was flaking off anyway. I love the look of old worn wood but I came to the decision that these needed to be refinished.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
The old wood was very thirsty.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
Another picture of the mounts. I added the washers in the front to raise it just a hair so that the end of the center bar did not make contact with the wood seat.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
The bolts I used to remount the backs were from my local big box store. I really did not like that they looked sooo shiny and new. I spray painted the heads with brown paint and then sanded them down, this left a darker color around the raise number and markings on the top of the bolts. I then rubbed a dark brown shoe polish on them. Sorry the picture isn’t to detailed on this.

The finished chairs:

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture
What do you think? I think they turned out pretty nice.

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture

eames dcm lcm lcw dcw herman miller modern chair furniture

Links for the shock mounts:
http://myworld.ebay.com/specialkproducts/
http://stores.ebay.com/specialkproducts



 


  • megan

    those are amazing! nice work.
    i always shy away from major jobs (major for me!) like this. but you made it look so easy.

    thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.modfrugal.com ModFruGal

    Gorgeous! You did an excellent job…good call on the washers. What did you use to refinish them…tung oil and a clear coat?

  • http://www.allwhitedesign.com Yoav

    nice job!

  • Tyler

    ModFruGal, I sanded them down to the wood and simply used an oil based clear coat poly that I already had.

  • Sunshine Raye

    aw yes, a completed project… that’s what i love about it =)

  • Lloyd Alter

    Thank you so much for posting this; I have four eames chairs is the basement with broken shocks. You have solved my problem!

  • Tyler

    Lloyd, I’m glad this helps. These chairs need to be used! But not too much :)

  • AmyR

    Can you explain a little more on the tin foil and vinegar? Did you just rub it on there? They look amazing!!

  • Tyler

    AmyR, just wipe or spray the vinegar on then scrub the frame with a bunched up piece of tin foil. It will start to turn black don’t get alarmed. Get a clean damp cloth and wipe the black stuff off. It really does work well.

  • http://www.themodernhome.com/ Beth

    You did a great job. They look fantastic!

  • Tyler

    Thanks Beth!

  • http://ourmodernmess.blogspot.com/ Eric

    Those look great. You should share your work on the chairs with this site. http://chairfag.com/ They would love this.

  • Tyler

    Thanks Eric, email sent

  • http://www.the-brick-house.com the brick house

    Looks great!!! Good job. Restoring these chairs is not so hard, and the results are amazing.

    I’ve been looking for a DCM pair for a long time. Color me jealous.

  • http://deedee914.blogspot.com Dee

    Tyler you give me hope that I’ll still be able to find pieces I can afford and save myself. Thanks so much.

  • http://www.duofiberworks.com Laura

    Thanks so much for this post! Friends and I just got 18 of these chairs today for $1.00 each (!!!)at a college surplus auction. We were playing it auction-cool, but freaking out on the inside… Anyway, they need a bit of work, so glad I found your restoration instructions. Very inspiring. Modern on a budget is possible!

  • Tyler

    Laura, wow a buck – nice work!

  • Katie

    I love the glossy finish on the chairs- nice work!

  • shane

    what type of glue was used?

  • Tyler

    shane, it was a two part epoxy that came with the kit from specialkproducts

  • shane

    I see…great, I have an architect friend in town who practiced in the 50′s and 60′s and used these for a lot of his projects. He has quite a few of them laying around that are broken and he has told me he could never figure out how to fix them. This will be great.

  • Tim Phillips

    Picked up a very cool 1960′s butter dish at an Estate Sale. Wanted to try out the foil & vinegar trick. Fabulous shine. Thanks for passing on the tip Tyler.

  • thomas Francis Jones

    Nice job. I know you put a lot of work into the project. Great work UNTIL you bore holes through the back seat of the chair and totally destroyed the authenticity of the chair. Perhaps you can find a DIY site that will help you to restore the chairs to their original design without the unsightly bolt running through the back.We all make mistakes. I repaired an Eames LCM chair with epoxy on the mounts and have had people up to 300 lbs sit in it with no problem. There is a reason the chair made history, the design is original design is sound. I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m sure you’ll except my criticism in the manner it is intended, otherwise you wouldn’t have put these pictures up for the world to see. Thomas F Jones, San Francisco

  • Tyler

    Thomas F Jones, as you can see in the first picture the holes were already in the chairs when I bought them. I would have never “bored” holes in these chairs.

  • thomas Francis Jones

    Tyler, an apology is not as good unless it’s given in front of the same audience the wrong was committed:
    I had thought that I posted another commit right after the offending one stating that “of course the holes may have already been there” or something to that effect but know that I’ve come to beg forgiveness I don’t see it. I react sometimes before I consider. I found your item by searching photos on Google. There happened to be a photo (unrelated to yours) that showed a sanded back with no holes. You might be able to see it know. I realized my mistake after I wrote the post explaining that I realized I the holes could have been there. I am not to proud or embarrassed to admit I was wrong. The work you did was flawless and the chairs are beautiful. I could “ring the neck” (I say with a bit of levity) as I’m sure you could, of the person who bored the holes. Of course they probably didn’t know what they were doing. I should also say that I was helped by the links you shared for the bushings as I’m sure many other people have done. Thank you and please except my humble apologies. Thomas F Jones
    - Show quoted text -
    – Thomas F Jones, as you can see in the first picture the holes were already in the chairs when I bought them. I would have never “bored” holes in these chairs.Have a great day! Thomas

  • Tyler

    Thomas F Jones

    No worries, I think we are all guilty at some point of “I react sometimes before I consider”

  • http://christopherandrewculley.com Christopher Andrwe Culley

    Wonderful restoration. I have a DCM in a very similar condition; if it was in better shape I would want to keep it historically accurate, but since it’s already been modified I want to do a bit of a fun restoration/modification. My only question is the bolts – are they functional? As in, do they actually connect to the shockmounts? Or are they just there because the front had already been drilled and you needed to cover up the hole?

    With my DCM I wanted to do a similar process except paint the frame red and fill the bolt holes in the back with red something, maybe wax. What do you think?

  • Tyler

    Christopher, yes the bolts thread through the mount and there is a nut on the back side of the mount. I have seen some people counter sink the bolts/screws on the front then fill them with something to hide the head of the bolt/screw. If your chair was already messed with, have fun with it. I took a look at some of your chairs, nice work!

  • http://christopherandrewculley.com Christopher Andrew Culley

    Thanks! :) I just found your site – it’s wonderful!

  • carol dickason

    O if only someone could help me with the proper glue for the shockmounts. My lovely chair has been repaired once with some glue that didn’t hold and now I have to clean out the old glue….but how? And what is the epoxy brand to use to reglue? My chair is one of six and it has been without its back for a year now.

  • Tyler

    Carol, the proper glue can be purchased from the same people that I got the mounts from. The glue kit is $13.99 on eBay.

    Put this number in the search box of eBay 320636066919

  • carol dickason

    I so appreciate this information. Now to clean out the old glue. You used a dremel tool which I do not have. Is there an alternative or do I need to buy the dremel tool?

  • Tyler

    Carol, you can use just about anything to chip, dig or sand the old glue out.

  • carol dickason

    Thanks, I am off to the hardware store now. I am so pleased that my chair will finally be repaired and take its rightful place at the table. The table I believe might be a Paul Frankl. It has combed wood and Brown-Saltman Southgate, Calif. 1250 stenciled on the underside. My next research project is to try to find out if it is real.

  • Tyler

    carol here is a little info on Brown-Saltman

    http://plastolux.com/modern-furniture-danish-brown-saltman.html

  • Jay F

    Hi, great job on the chairs! I found this post after picking up one of these chairs and trying to figure out how to best refinish it. I’ve had some experience refinishing other vintage items but never something like molded plywood. I was wondering if you could go into a little more detail as to how you sanded off the old coat, i.e types of sanding materials, power tools, etc. I may be over thinking my methods and I was hoping you could point me in the right direction. Thanks!

  • Tyler

    Jay, I simply used my hand held sander and some medium to fine sand paper. Visually it was pretty easy to see when you had all of the clear coat off. Don’t go too nuts with the sanding or you will sand down into the ply portion of the wood. It is very easy to sand down too far on the edges if you hold your sander at the wrong angle.

    Hope this helps!

  • Rob K

    Hey Tyler – these chairs are stunning. I am about to embark on a DCM re-con, but, like many before me, wanted to ask for some details about your tactics… for the chrome shine, is it tin foil or Aluminum foil? The reason I ask is because in the UK tin foil is actually made of Aluminium (as we spell it), but has a name that’s left over from a previous incarnation. I also wondered if you could be more specific about the oil based clear coat poly. Is that polyurethane? & if so, is it from any old hardware store? Is it furniture specific? Essentially I want to make sure I slap on the right stuff! I am very inspired. Thank you.

  • Tyler

    Rob K, yes I am pretty sure it is aluminum foil and any polyurethane should work fine. You could also just use some protective oil like teak for a natural finish.

  • http://Mattlumpkin.com Matt Lumpkin

    Tyler,
    Nice work. I love seeing something renewed and given new life.

    I have a 2005 dcm chair that the back detached from at some point in the past. When I acquired it the back had already been lost. Do you have any tips on finding a replacement back?

    Thanks.

  • Tyler

    Matt, thanks for the kind words. Your best bet on finding a replacement back is ebay. I see them quite frequently.

  • Brad

    I have a dozen of these in my attic, but was so irritated because they, too, already have holes drilled in the backs. Yours look so good I may not mind now.

  • Tyler

    Brad, a little work and they can still look great.

  • Derek

    I just got a vintage LCM with the holes drilled through. Do you think there is a way to fill the holes back in with something and restore it?

  • Tyler

    Derek, once the holes are there it is pretty hard to “restore it”. I have seen people sink the screws into the wood a little then cover the heads of the screws with some type of filler.

  • Derek

    alrighty. i think i will end up selling my LCM then and get one without the holes just cause it kinda bothers me. if you know anyone in the market for a vintage LCM, i have one available!

  • Alyssa

    The chairs look gorgeous, especially the shine. You inspired me to fix my Eames and I just put on my first coat of poly. How many coats and sandings did you do to get the shine so perfect? Thanks!

  • Tyler

    Alyssa, two coats, fine sanding between the coats.

  • Hera

    Beautiful job!
    I found what I thought was a DCW copy on the street the other night. After posting pics on DesignAddict and not hearing anything immediately, I went ahead and used my sheet sander on the seat. I feel very bad now, as some people replied to the post saying they think it’s the real deal and don’t sand it. How much did you sand? I cringe to see the reply….I think I may have messed it up really bad.

  • Hera

    Just read your posts above re: sanding. When you say hand held sander, do you mean manual or power? I used a power sander. And what worries me is that as the finish came off, so did the color! Did I go too far? Or does that mean it’s a stain??
    Sorry for all the questions. I don’t want to ruin it further and so I’m wondering if I need to put a stain in it. It looks like it need some kind of conditioning as there are minute spaces in the wood. Not cracks, just too porous.

  • Tyler

    Hera, I went over to the DA forum to take a look at your pictures. I am no expert but I am pretty sure these chairs were not stained except for the early red and black ones. The only thing you should worry about is sanding down past the first layer of wood veneer. I did use a small hand held sander and sanded until all of the clear coat was off. I probably wouldn’t have sanded your chair either, sorry I know that is not what you wanted to hear. My DCMs were not that old and already had the backs drilled through so value had already been compromised.

    Did you sand past the first layer of veneer?

    If you wanted, you could send a picture of what you have done so far on the sanding, it is hard to see what you are taking about without pics.

    I would post some more pics on DA to verify authenticity before I did anything else

    Sorry if this isn’t much help

  • Hera

    :(
    Well, I’m sad. But I still don’t think it’s real. Unless the dimensions did vary in the older ones.
    However, even if original, the back is drilled through and the the 11 screw holes on the seat have different screws, a messed up, crazy looking handmade mount and someone used huge globs of some kind of weird glue in two of the screw holes. WHich is my original post on DA said they were dilapidated and in need of lots of work.
    I read quite a few posts on the web prior to sanding, and concluded that, even if original, the fact that the shock mount had been screwed on from the back of the spine apparently meant it was already compromised from a collector’s standpoint. Knowing that, i figured it was worth trying to make look nice, as I love MCM furniture and would just appreciate having some for everyday use. Plus, I recently bought an awesome but dilapidated MCM daybed (another big project)and was hoping to find a chair for cheap. No better price than free!
    So even if I totally screwed up, I’m happy to have such a nice chair. Or at least, will be nice looking soon, I hope.
    FYI- I only sanded to get the shiny layer off, and as soon as the shiny layer is removed, the color is gone. Since I’m using 220 grit and didn’t sand that long, that would lead me to believe it was stained and more support for theory it’s not original. On the other hand, I tried a small area with Restor-a-Finish (no color) and it did nothing, so maybe there was no finish. It just seems odd it’s so shiny but the wood is so dry/cracked even with the coating.
    I’ll take some pics. Where do I send them?

  • Tyler

    Hera, tyler(at)plastolux(dot)com

  • Hera

    Hi,
    Thanks. I actually posted the pics on DA. Here’s a link to the photobucket album:

    http://s1293.photobucket.com/albums/b584/usillyrabbitu/

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  • kidjedi

    So, I think it’s been covered, but for the record, if you are doing this, don’t put the bolt through the front of the chair. The bolt should go through the back (t-shaped part of frame) and into the shockmount. Then fill the holes in the chair back (the wood part) with a wood filler. You will still see where the holes were, but you won’t have shiny, obvious metal in the chair back (and poking you in the back).


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