Restoring vintage furniture is a hobby of mine. I especially love collecting chairs designed by architects. These MCM parchment fiberglass shell chairs by husband-and-wife team, Ray & Charles Eames refinished spectacularly after many cycles of sanding and coating with marine solvent. The original steel bases were replaced with wooden dowel bases. Instructions Below.


I typically find decently priced vintage furniture on Ebay or Etsy. It can take years to collect a matched set, so obsession is key! As an investment, note that refurbished original vintage shell chairs increase in value, so it’s not only fun, but profitable to restore, sell and start a new project in a new color to enjoy for a while!

In a small circular motion, sand the surface with the sponge. The result should be a uniformly dull appearance. Fiberglass is self-healing so the sanding should remove minor surface scratches. Rinse surface and allow to dry overnight. Apply a thin coat of Penetrol with a microfiber cloth and allow to dry. I recommend three coats.

black shell side chairs with dowel base
refinished above vintage condition shells
top and bottom of shell seats
new dowel base screws to each shell
set of four chairs at dining table

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