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Thread: Parker Knoll armchair woodstain removal

  1. #1
    Master Omegary's Avatar
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    Parker Knoll armchair woodstain removal

    The wife has inherited a couple of Parker-Knoll armchairs which are a nice shape and have been reupholstered at quite some expense by the looks of it. The issue is they're mahogany brown, probably stained like that from new. I think the wood is teak and you can see the woods natural colour in places where it's worn, which is much more aesthetically appealing.

    One of the chairs in question.



    And the worn arm revealing the wood under the stain.



    And finally the P-K markings.



    Oh and another Parker-Knoll chair we already have in a much more appealing wood, to my eyes anyway.



    So is there a way to remove the mahogany wood stain without resorting to harsh chemicals and potentially ruining the fabric? The stain on the worn section flakes off pretty easily with my fingernail. I'm guessing sanding is an option but I don't want to potentially ruin the chairs by removing too much material or softening the edges. If anyone has any ideas or experience of restoring chairs I'm all ears.

    Cheers,
    Gary
    Last edited by Omegary; 4th July 2021 at 15:37.

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    Master thieuster's Avatar
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    Beautiful chairs!

    It's worth checking if you can clean them first with natural soap. Over the years, wood will get dirty (contact with the human skin). A natural soft soap (and not soaking wet!!) will clean off a lot of the dirt and reveal the original colour. Only after that, decide if you want to proceed with removing the stain/lacque.

    When you decide to sand the wood: use the finest sanding material you can find! And give it a try on the underside first, making sure that you get the result you want.

    Or, fork out some money and have it done by a proper furniture restorer. For me, these chairs are worth their money.

    Menno

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    Grand Master jwg663's Avatar
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    According to the table here -

    https://www.retrowow.co.uk/retro_sty...ker_knoll.html

    - your chairs are the 'Ringwood' model from approx. 1965.
    ______

    ​Jim.

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    Master thieuster's Avatar
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    Parker Knoll armchair woodstain removal

    As a big fan of the Mid Century Modern design, I would love to see the restored result!

    Menno



    Every piece of furniture on the pic is at least 50 yrs old!
    Last edited by thieuster; 4th July 2021 at 16:56.

  5. #5
    Master sweets's Avatar
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    They used coloured varnish on these, so you need to get a cabinet makers scraper Gary. I am restoring some similar chairs at present using the same thing, although it is easier for me as the upholstery on mine was horrid and is already in the bin.
    They are not usually teak, more like beech. G plan and many scandi makers used teak, PK less so

  6. #6
    Master Omegary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwg663 View Post
    According to the table here -

    https://www.retrowow.co.uk/retro_sty...ker_knoll.html

    - your chairs are the 'Ringwood' model from approx. 1965.
    That's a great resource, many thanks. Even better I now have a birth year chair!

    Quote Originally Posted by thieuster View Post
    As a big fan of the Mid Century Modern design, I would love to see the restored result!

    Menno



    Every piece of furniture on the pic is at least 50 yrs old!
    Our tastes our remarkable similar Menno. I'm in awe of your new home and I love your posts about Elvis and Louis. Got to say I'm very envious of your workshop too!

    Quote Originally Posted by sweets View Post
    They used coloured varnish on these, so you need to get a cabinet makers scraper Gary. I am restoring some similar chairs at present using the same thing, although it is easier for me as the upholstery on mine was horrid and is already in the bin.
    They are not usually teak, more like beech. G plan and many scandi makers used teak, PK less so
    Thanks Dave, I was hoping you'd see this thread. I wasn't sure about the wood so teak was a best guess really. I know the Parker-Knoll we already have is beach. Any recommendations for a good cabinet makers scraper and are they easy enough for a simpleton like me to use?

    Cheers,
    Gary

  7. #7
    Master thieuster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omegary View Post
    That's a great resource, many thanks. Even better I now have a birth year chair!



    Our tastes our remarkable similar Menno. I'm in awe of your new home and I love your posts about Elvis and Louis. Got to say I'm very envious of your workshop too!



    Thanks Dave, I was hoping you'd see this thread. I wasn't sure about the wood so teak was a best guess really. I know the Parker-Knoll we already have is beach. Any recommendations for a good cabinet makers scraper and are they easy enough for a simpleton like me to use?

    Cheers,
    Gary
    Here's an idea: when you want to try a scraper, go to the/a flee market and buy a chair with this sort of wood. The non-design chairs are cheap as chips. You can give it a try on that chair! Or, better: buy something like this!

    https://picclick.co.uk/Parker-Knoll-...752404019.html and start experimenting!

    When you search for PK 973/4, a ton of info appears. This is an inspiring one too: https://florrieandbill.wordpress.com...4-restoration/
    Last edited by thieuster; 4th July 2021 at 18:45.

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    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwg663 View Post
    According to the table here -

    https://www.retrowow.co.uk/retro_sty...ker_knoll.html

    - your chairs are the 'Ringwood' model from approx. 1965.
    Thanks for that - I've just discovered that I own a Froxfield. It used to be in the office of my old boss (somebody I had an enormous amount of respect for) and I picked it up in a staff sealed-bid auction for £8.
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

  9. #9
    Grand Master jwg663's Avatar
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    You'll be interested in this PDF of promotional material -

    PARKER KNOLL BOOK OF COMFORT 1963-64
    ______

    ​Jim.

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    Grand Master number2's Avatar
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    In the last couple of year's G-plan and Parker Knoll have become another interest of mine along with Ekornes chairs.
    "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."

  11. #11
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    Lovely chairs Gary! I’m no professional, but the last time I had to do something similar I used biostrip to get the varnish off, and wire wool. Biostrip isn’t as fast as a chemical stripper, but at least it doesn’t kill you and you can use it inside. You have to slap it on and leave it for 10-15 minutes (as I remember it), then use a plastic scraper, then repeat until you get down to the wood, then use wire wool along the grain to scrape the last of it out and get the surface smooth. Then you can re-varnish with something subtle that doesn’t darken it. Obviously you’d need to remove the cushions or do a very good job of protecting them. It’s a time consuming task but I got good results…. Eventually!

  12. #12
    Grand Master hogthrob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omegary View Post
    Any recommendations for a good cabinet makers scraper and are they easy enough for a simpleton like me to use?
    https://www.axminstertools.com/hand-...binet-scrapers




    These might also be useful:

    https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...abinet+scraper

    https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...abinet+scraper

  13. #13
    Master mr noble's Avatar
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    The wood can certainly be brought back up to however you’d like it. To do it properly, the fabric ought to all be taken off again, but a good local furniture medic could to the parts as they are.

    However, as has been stated, a good wood cleaner and polish might make enough difference to make you happy. Some patina is a good thing!


    On another note….are you sure this chair is a PK? Looks more like an Ercol design to me. Maybe PK were copying Ercol at that time?



  14. #14
    Master Omegary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thieuster View Post
    Here's an idea: when you want to try a scraper, go to the/a flee market and buy a chair with this sort of wood. The non-design chairs are cheap as chips. You can give it a try on that chair! Or, better: buy something like this!

    https://picclick.co.uk/Parker-Knoll-...752404019.html and start experimenting!

    When you search for PK 973/4, a ton of info appears. This is an inspiring one too: https://florrieandbill.wordpress.com...4-restoration/
    Good idea Menno but I don't really have the space for yet another chair unfortunately. I'm struggling to find space for the latest two, let alone buying another to experiment with. Plus the likely hood is the seat fabric will have to be removed to have full access to the frame, so I might entrust them to a professional, we'll see.

    Quote Originally Posted by jwg663 View Post
    You'll be interested in this PDF of promotional material -

    PARKER KNOLL BOOK OF COMFORT 1963-64
    Thanks for the link. I actually have an original Parker-Knoll catalogue from Jan 1961. The other chair is a Malvern (917) from 1960, but purchased a bit later and I think the catalogue came with it. C-B's Froxfield would have set the original owner back £16 and five shillings as an 'own cover'. Alternatively cover type P would have been £20 and 15 shillings. Quite a sum in 1961!

    Quote Originally Posted by Itsguy View Post
    Lovely chairs Gary! I’m no professional, but the last time I had to do something similar I used biostrip to get the varnish off, and wire wool. Biostrip isn’t as fast as a chemical stripper, but at least it doesn’t kill you and you can use it inside. You have to slap it on and leave it for 10-15 minutes (as I remember it), then use a plastic scraper, then repeat until you get down to the wood, then use wire wool along the grain to scrape the last of it out and get the surface smooth. Then you can re-varnish with something subtle that doesn’t darken it. Obviously you’d need to remove the cushions or do a very good job of protecting them. It’s a time consuming task but I got good results…. Eventually!
    Thanks. Unfortunately the fabric for the chair back is attached to the frame on both examples so I don't think any form of stripper without damaging the material. I've restored a few bits of furniture before but the close proximity of the fabric is a real concern for me with these chairs. As I mentioned they've both been professionally reupholstered fairly recently and although the fabric wouldn't have been my first choice, it's very neutral and can be brightened up with a colourful throw or cushion.

    Many thanks for the links hogthrob. I'll do some research if getting the professionally restored looks prohibitively expensive.

    Quote Originally Posted by mr noble View Post
    The wood can certainly be brought back up to however you’d like it. To do it properly, the fabric ought to all be taken off again, but a good local furniture medic could to the parts as they are.

    However, as has been stated, a good wood cleaner and polish might make enough difference to make you happy. Some patina is a good thing!


    On another note….are you sure this chair is a PK? Looks more like an Ercol design to me. Maybe PK were copying Ercol at that time?


    Thanks Mr N, I think you're right with regards to removing the fabric, so I might bite the bullet and get them restored professionally. And yes our existing chair is definitely a P-K, it's another from 1965 and is called an Abinger (964). It might well have been inspired by an Ercol design though.

    Cheers,
    Gary

  15. #15
    Master
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    Lovely looking chairs - I really like mid-20th century stuff too. Be interested to see how they turn out and also why approach you use.

    I have a couple of old Tetrad chairs that I keep meaning to do something with and this might inspire me to get on with it!

  16. #16
    Master sweets's Avatar
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    I recommend the Veritas scrapers Gary. I have the basic 3 shape set (along with a few old ones bought from Bristol Design, the best used tool shop I've ever seen, rather expensively only 300m from my house).
    You will also need a file and a burnisher, to remove and then re-apply the scraping edge, if you decide to have a go, as scrapers can dull quite quickly.
    And bear in mind, like planing, you always want to smooth down the grain, rather than pick it up, so do not just have at it, look at the grain direction and plan your attack.
    If you go with the grain, you can achieve a finish better than a sanded finish at 300 grit or do. Perfectly good enough to re-apply some food for the wood or a surface finish.
    Personally, for stuff like this I much prefer to use a waxed finish, as the chair remains unsealed and will slowly develop a lovely patina of wear and use.
    I think you might try using strolling roll (the self adhesive carpet protector that builders use) stuck onto your upholstered sections whilst you make a mess with the scraper.
    D

  17. #17
    Master sweets's Avatar
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    I might add that I am sure you will find the restoration of this finish a very rewarding activity.
    Go for it.

  18. #18
    Grand Master hogthrob's Avatar
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    I read somewhere that a lot of Parker Knoll furniture is stained beech, and it appears that might be the case with your chair, looking at these two pictures






    As they say, try stripping an unobtusive area first.


    Have you considered what you are going to refinish the chairs with?

  19. #19
    Master Omegary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweets View Post
    I might add that I am sure you will find the restoration of this finish a very rewarding activity.
    Go for it.
    Thanks Dave, I find working with wood very therapeutic, even just the smell relaxes me. Any recommendations for a good natural wax at all?

    Quote Originally Posted by hogthrob View Post
    I read somewhere that a lot of Parker Knoll furniture is stained beech, and it appears that might be the case with your chair, looking at these two pictures






    As they say, try stripping an unobtusive area first.


    Have you considered what you are going to refinish the chairs with?
    Thanks hogstrob. I'll probably go for a waxed natural finish. Seems daft varnishing when I've spent ages removing the old stuff.

    Cheers,
    Gary

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