Friday, January 23, 2009
A cautionary tale of an old rusty chair
This post will most likely be of no interest to anyone, but you get it anyway. I have a love of old metal mid century office furniture. I've been collecting and hording it for years. I picked up this little metal and green vinyl chair probably 5 years ago at an antique store in Atlanta. It wasn't in the best of shape. It was left out in the weather and had, what looked like, a family of cats living on it and God knows what else. I bought it for $15 bucks if memory serves.

I finally got a bug up my butt last weekend to refinish it. I figured it would take a couple days at most. It actually looked like it was in descent enough shape, but the seat cushion had obviously deteriorated because it created a dust cloud if you patted it, and it sounded like potato chips if you sat on it. Foam and the elements don't go together too well. Especially when the foam is 50 to 60 years old.

I started by taking photos so I could remember how to reassemble it. As soon as I started to take off the vinyl I knew it would be a big job. Moisture had made its way into the padding under the vinyl. Everyplace there was padding, there was rust. A lot of it. The padding for the seat had completely turned to dust. My wife and I scrapped the metal and sanded off as much rust as possible. Yes, I pulled my wife into this job... that's the kinda guy I am and she's a great help.

This is where things turned south. When you scrape deteriorated foam rubber, sand rust, and then spray paint... wear a mask. Don't be a dumbass like myself and think you'll be ok.

So we scrapped, sanded, and painted the metal. It took a couple days when you figure in the time for the multiple layers of primer and paint to dry. I even polished the casters and cleaned the bearings in them. They ended up looking like new! Then it hit. I felt it in my throat and nose. Not to get too graphic here, but lets just say there was a lovely burnt orange color coming from my nose. Then I got sick and the chair had to go on hold. I had what felt like the flu. I'm thinking whatever I sucked in got infected. That was a week ago and I'm finally somewhat over whatever it was.

We were finally able to put it together and reupholster the beast today. The chair was almost the death of me, but I think it turned out pretty good! So what did we all learn from this? Wear a mask and don't be an idiot like me!

Click on the image below for a better look at the process...

posted by Tony Shasteen @ 6:48 PM  
  • At 6:32 AM, Blogger Jim Clark said…

    The finished product looks great, man. I also found a lot of interest in looking up the reasons for your symptoms: inhaling toxic mold spores from the padding, rust particles linked to being a catalyst for tuberculosis, the infamous "rust lung", rustothelioma, lacerations of the aveoli causing the burnt mucus color... Okay I made most of that up. But the chair looks great. I am glad your garage has a little more room now.

  • At 6:53 PM, Blogger Tony Shasteen said…

    Thanks! I'm pretty proud of it. The garage has room for MORE old chairs now! Time for another trip to the Goodwill!

  • At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Tony you got sick cause you were probably breathing in asbestos... lol! Good job anyway!-Jessica

  • At 8:42 PM, Blogger Tony Shasteen said…

    Jessica, you're probably right! Uhhhg, I'm going out like Steve McQueen, with a lung full of asbestos!

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Name: Tony Shasteen
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