Monthly Archives: August 2015

Kafka Lounge – Part 3

Part 3 brings us the wood.

First off, the solid teak legs.

Danish Oiled Teak 1950's Legs
Before, During & After!

All pretty self explanatory! From the top left we have a comparison between a sanded teak leg to one with the original finish which I’ll use a guide for when it comes ‘colour matching’. Working clockwise we then have all 4 legs sanded. Due to only wanting to remove the original finish I didn’t have to go to harsh with the sandpaper. 240 grit was plenty enough to remove it, and then finish with a 400 grit which gave a great, super smooth finish.

Bottom left shows all 4 legs in my jig to apply the danish oil finish. This was after 1 coat, notice the matt finish, and how it will change to a higher gloss/sheen when more coats are applied. Also of note are the 2 distinctive shades of colour between the legs, with the longer legs (front) being darker. Bottom right shows the completed legs with 4 coats of Danish Oil applied. Very happy with the end result!

Retro Timber Coachwood Hand Rests
Ready for sanding.

With the legs now done and dusted, my attention turned indoors, and to the well worn hand rests. To remove what was left of the original shellac finish I used a cabinet style scraper. What you see above is the completed works.

240 grit sanding.
Much Better.

With a steady hand and some 240 grit sandpaper I got to work being ever so careful to avoid the vinyl upholstery. An hour later and a few sheets less of sandpaper and I was done. I was super impressed with the grain on the left side hand rest. I couldn’t see it before through the shellac, but it’s looking like there’s a bit of fiddleback in there. Will be great to see how it shows up under the Danish Oil! A quick hit with some 400 grit to wrap things up and we’re just about ready to apply the new finish.

Kafka ‘Freshen Up’ – Part 2

I’ll be moving reasonably quickly through the freshen up of the Kafka lounge, largely due to a major deadline looming (read wedding) in the next few weeks – I’m also a little ahead of where I’m posting about.

Repairing Mid Century Furniture
Tape & Vinyl Glue

So following on from the original clean, removing of stray paint and applying a conditioner to the vinyl we have now landed at the scratches and small tears to the original vinyl upholstery. The main one of note, is a small tear, approximately 15-20mm long x 2 – 3mm wide in the centre of the main cushion. What to do?

I did investigate the possibility of recovering the cushion, however to match the original colour and pattern of the vinyl was proving to be a difficult task, and to be honest probably more trouble than it was worth, so the decision was made to leave it as it, and just tidy up a few of the smaller nicks and scratches with some specific vinyl adhesive to stop them catching and going any further.

Once the adhesive was dry, I then moved onto removing the angular, tapered teak legs in preparation for refinishing. The legs were simply screwed into a threaded nut that ‘bites’ into the other side of the timber. Simple, yet effective.

With the legs removed I was faced with the dirty, well worn calico/cheesecloth cover to the underside of the lounge.

Killer 50's Retro Chair
Calico or Cheesecloth?

I had always been in two minds in regards to replacing it. Looking back now I wonder how that thought could of ever entered my mind! Being a little tired made for lite work in removing the bottom cover. With 60 years of dust settled on it, I also discovered that originally it looks like it was light blue in colour, perhaps to blend just that little better. With the replacement I don’t think I’ll worry with the colour, just a nice clean piece of calico/cheesecloth to cover the ‘internals’ of the lounge, which by the way are in great shape for their age! No sagging springs or visible damage. Score.

Teal Vinyl Australian Lounge

With the underside of the lounge now accessible, and a heap of old rusty staples looking at me square in the face (used to fix the calico cover) I got to work removing them all, one at a time. Not really necessary, and a lot of guys would just cover over the top, however my slightly obsessive compulsive nature wouldn’t let me do it. Much better in the long run I think.

Quick thing to note – It appears the slight angle on the front legs were achieved by using a small piece of masonite under the rear side of the front leg(s). Interesting.

Kafka ‘Freshen Up’ – Part 1

So I’m getting married in just over a month, and my fiancee and I decided  that – weather permitting, we would use this great teal/turquoise coloured 2 seater lounge designed and manufactured by Kafka as our ‘love seat’.

Being used solidly for the past 60 years has taken its toll (although small) on the lounge which is a little tired. Whats that mean? Well with time ticking away it’s time for a restoration, or perhaps more fitting,  a ‘freshen up’.

Kafka Lounge Mid Century
No, thats not a shadow!

First of all comes a good vacuum, especially down behind the attached seat cushion. Although a little tight to get into, plenty of dirt and dust was removed. Then, and perhaps the most notable part – washing the vinyl covering. Nothing other than some warm water, soap, and a soft sponge produced the amazing result you see in the top 2 images (left half after – right half before).

It’s crazy to think that that much dirt, grease and grime was there. The other side affect from giving the vinyl a thorough clean, was the overall feel. Before washing, the vinyl was hard to touch and stiff, yet after the wash it felt super soft and nice to touch again. It definitely revitalised the vinyl, and with a vinyl conditioner applied once dry, it will only continue to get better!

Next was the stray white paint brush mark! With the vinyl having a very fine textured pattern, I didn’t want to use anything abrasive to try and remove the paint in the grooves, so I ended up using a super fine sewing pin to very gentle pick the white paint out of the grooves. Super time consuming, however it worked quite well!

Mid Century Australian Lounge

As you can see from the above picture, the timber hand rests have seen better days. The tinted shellac has started to flake off in places (like most shellac finished from the era) while the angular legs are looking a little tired.

The combination of timbers here are interesting. The hand supports are manufactured out of coachwood, whilst the legs are teak. Coachwood is naturally a lighter coloured timber, hence why a darker/tinted shellac was used as the finish – to try and match the darker, solid teak legs. May pose some difficulties down the track but we’ll cross that bridge in time!

More updates next week!