How to: Restore 1950s hoop chairs designed by John Hauser

February 13, 2013

QI would like to find someone in the area who can make replacement wood seat supports for two circular chairs. The friend who gave them to me called them olive chairs.

The chairs were originally painted green and the seats were red. The back piece of wood is lightly curved, but the seat bottom appears to be flat. However, the chairs were outside for a long time and the wood is rotten, so it is a little hard to tell.

I plan to make seat cushions myself and repaint the chairs. I do have experience with this.

Falls Church


A reader’s broken circular chair. (Reader photo)

AYour chairs look very much like the hoop chair by a Canadian designer, John Hauser, from 1955. Do a Google image search with the names of the chair and the designer and you’ll see that both the seat and the backrest are curved. However, you’ll also find a few pictures showing flat pieces. Perhaps those are replacement parts, or perhaps these chairs were less expensive mimics of Hauser’s design.

One way to find woodworkers who do specialized work is to check with stores that sell woodworking machinery and supplies, such as Rockler (www.rockler.com) or Woodcraft. The Woodcraft store in Springfield (703-912-6727; www.woodcraft.com) recommends Hossein Golkar of Green Tree Carpentry in Woodbridge (703-407-1766; Golkar_H@yahoo.com).

Golkar looked at pictures of your chair, the Hauser model and the similar chair with a flat seat and a flat back. He said he could make replacement parts in either style if you bring the chairs to his shop. He estimated the cost at around $80 per chair if you want flat parts or $300 per chair for curved parts.

On the original Hauser and flat-style chairs, the wooden parts are covered with padding and upholstery. There are no separate cushions.

H&A Fine Woodworking in Alexandria (703-822-0006 or 703-499-0944; hawoodworking.com) is another option, although their estimates for replacement parts were higher. For a single chair, curved pieces would cost $550, and flat pieces would be $160. In either case, if you decided to have them do the upholstery, the charge would be $275 to $575, depending on the material you select.

We are frustrated with a scratched stainless backing we have behind our 1940s vintage stove. The stainless steel is wrapped onto the cabinets on each side of the stove and goes from the top edge of the exhaust fan down to the floor behind the stove.

How do we remove the scratches? They are not deep. We are not comfortable doing it ourselves if it requires a professional sander. Are there products that work or can you recommend who does this type of work?

Alexandria

It’s fairly easy to rub out scratches on stainless steel, provided you’re dealing with bare metal and a brushed surface. Don’t try it on stainless covered with a clear coat finish or polished to a mirror sheen, though, or you’ll just make it look worse.

Stainless steel appliances often have a clear coating, which ads translate as clean-free or fingerprint-free surfaces. Sinks and stoves usually are uncoated. If your stove surround was fabricated by a local shop, you can just call to check. Otherwise, use a handy checklist for identifying a clear coat on the Web site of Scratch-B-Gone, www.scratch-b-gone.net.

To rub out the scratches, use an abrasive pad, wet-dry sandpaper with a sanding block, or even a green scrub pad like you’d use for pots. (It produces a finish very similar to the No. 4 brushed finish on many appliances.) Or, for more money, you can buy a stainless steel scratch-removal kit with detailed directions and a polish that might make the job go faster.

If you opt for sandpaper or abrasive pads, get several grits, from super-fine (600 or 400 grit) down to fine (240). The lower the grit, the coarser the abrasive. Begin in an area that will be hidden by the stove so you can practice and determine how much pressure to apply. Dampen the surface with water or mineral oil and begin sanding with the finest abrasive you have. Go in the direction of the brush marks on the metal, not in circles. Don’t sand back and forth, either; go in one direction only. After a few minutes, if you can still see the scratch, switch to coarser grit. If you can’t make headway with that, go to something even coarser.

Once you determine the grit that works, go over the entire surface with that so everything blends in. You can stop then or go over everything with finer and finer grits, depending on the look you want. Wipe the sanding debris off the surface and polish with a soft cloth, or use a stainless steel polish.

However, if there is only one small scratch that requires a fairly coarse grit, you may be able to save time by purchasing a kit with a polish that helps sanded areas blend in. Then you can rub out the scratch with whatever grit you need and go over just that area with finer and finer grits. Kits also include detailed instructions. Scratch-B-Gone Stainless Steel Scratch Repair Kit, which sells for about $35, is one popular product.

If your efforts to remove the scratches don’t work, call a metal fabrication shop and ask if you can hire someone to go to your house and resurface the metal.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com. Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in February, such as exploring renovation tax credits.

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