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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Picked up these chairs from my grandmas house after she died. I don't know much about them other than they sat in her basement for as long as I recall. Label on the back is Johnson Chair Co, Chicago. No idea how old they are.

One captians and 7 armless.

I'm in the process of stripping and sanding. Now I need to pick out a stain for them. Wife wants dark.

As these pieces are quality builds and will be around a long time still I want to get the absolute best color I can, so I plan on doing tests on an oak board. I am 90% certain I am dealing with white oak but want to confirm as much as I can before I start doing samples(hate to do samples on the wrong white if it is red).

Showed the pics to one bud who used to work in a shop and he said quarter sawed white oak. What say you?







 

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It's possible it might be white oak, definitely some quarter sawn in it. For what you are doing it doesn't make that much difference. Whether it is red or white oak the two woods will stain an finish the same way. I have a chair at my place right now that has red oak, white oak and ash mixed together. Unless you just looked it over real good you wouldn't know the difference. My guess on the age of your chairs are that they are 1950's. You might google the company and see when they were in business.
 

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It looks like white oak to me too. The finish had the grain filled also. Did that come out when you stripped it? I would encourage you to use a filler again with a dark stain.

Al

Friends don't let friends use stamped metal tools sold at clothing stores.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm not sure if the filler came out with stripping.

How do I tell? Never worked with grain filler before, where does a guy get it if indeed I either stripped or sanded the old filler out?

My Google searching to find out company info always ends up with links leading to stuff about Ford and Johnson Co but they don't have much info about any possible name changes, etc.
 

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I'm not sure if the filler came out with stripping.

How do I tell? Never worked with grain filler before, where does a guy get it if indeed I either stripped or sanded the old filler out?

My Google searching to find out company info always ends up with links leading to stuff about Ford and Johnson Co but they don't have much info about any possible name changes, etc.
Normally oak isn't grain filled but there is no reason you can't do it though. Sherwin Williams makes a good grain filler but it comes in a natural color. They can tint it for you to the color of wood stain you are using.
 

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As steve said, some of the pieces are definitely quarter sawn. It appears that most is rift sawn. Either way, they are fine looking, sturdy chairs. I'm guessing, out of some governmental office.
One of my favorite methods to darken oak is to apply Watco Dark Walnut. A couple coats should darken it quite a bit. After it cures well, usually 3-5 days, a few coats of a good varnish will have them looking just like they came out of the factory...except for the color.
 

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Steve Neul said:
Normally oak isn't grain filled but there is no reason you can't do it though. Sherwin Williams makes a good grain filler but it comes in a natural color. They can tint it for you to the color of wood stain you are using.
Oh come on Steve. Oak is wrongly finished without grain filler. While its not used in fine furniture much. When it is it's filled. Staining is dreadful without it.

Al

Friends don't let friends use stamped metal tools sold at clothing stores.
 

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where's my table saw?
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I didnt use no grain filler on these

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f9/what-chairs-these-39917/

I mixed my own stain from several premixed Min Wax stains. Red Oak and Red Chestnut mostly, if I remember. Fast dry satin poly by Min Wax also as the top coat.
The Murphy Chair company was originally out of Detroit and influenced by Stickley.
The Johnson Chair company out of Chicago, was an older company and you have to dig around the net for more info. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_long_did_Johnson_Chair_Company_Chicago_remain_in_business
http://images.search.yahoo.com/imag...4opdkrk&.crumb=3P7FAnr.dNR&fr=ytff1-tyc-inbox
A dark Oak finish would not be typical, just my opinion.

Definitely quarter sawn white Oak.
 

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Have you Googled the Johnson Chair Co? Seems they went out of business in 1913.

Al

Friends don't let friends use stamped metal tools sold at clothing stores.
 

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woodnthings said:
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f9/what-chairs-these-39917/

I mixed my own stain from several premixed Min Wax stains. Red Oak and Red Chestnut mostly, if I remember. Fast dry satin poly by Min Wax also as the top coat.
The Murphy Chair company was originally out of Detroit and influenced by Stickley Bros.

A dark Oak finish would not be typical, just my opinion.

Definitely quarter sawn white Oak.
I find most times I stain I need to mix a few together for the shade I want too. I'm not very good a staining either. I just don't do it much.

Al

Friends don't let friends use stamped metal tools sold at clothing stores.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So I could go either way it seems on filler. I've done an oak table and dresser without filling and didn't have issues applying or with the final look.

I know dark isn't the normal look for this style/age of chair but the wife wants dark so dark it is.

I've done many google searchs but never gotten much on the company.

Possible they came out of some government joint. My grandparents lived in DC starting in the late 50s.

Better call my dad up and see if he can recall where the chairs came from and when.
 

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The Johnson Chair Company produced furniture until the mid 70's, from what I remember. Oak can be grain filled or not. Without filling, there is a look and feel to the wood showing off its grain. Any of the Oaks I've used were very easy to stain and finish. They take well to oil base stains and dye stains.

I would use an NGR alcohol base stain (methanol). It can be darkened with re-application of stain.





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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
woodnthings, those chairs look great. What are the odds you recall the ratios you used of those two stains?
 

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where's my table saw?
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thanks for the compliment!

woodnthings, those chairs look great. What are the odds you recall the ratios you used of those two stains?
It was a matter of trial; and error and when you add a little, stir a little, no not enough.... you lose track of any ratios....however
after looking at my stain collection in the shop I've come up with 2 colors, Red Chestnut and English Chestnut that I believe will be close right out of the Min Wax can. I've made "sample" sticks of the stain, but then forgot to label which project had which stain on it...quilt rack, Murphy chairs....I donno? The Mission style stain I like best is more red than brown, for example.



 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quick update with some pics.

Got 4 stripped and sanded down finally.

Yesterday I was able to stain 2. Man chairs are way more work than tables!

Took for ever trying to get a stain picked out. Wife wanted "dark". Made her a sample board of all my stains, she didn't like em. Bought a can of Varathane Kona she liked. Sample it and she said nope.

Yesterday we went to Sherwin Williams and finally picked out a color. Some sort of Chestnut. Put a small sample on the bottom of a chair...NOPE no way no how. 16 dollar mistake.

So I grabbed the dark stains from the draw to do some test spots. Started with the Kona and hit a winner.

Don't think it was the color she had in her mind, but they look good IMO. Kinda have the old church pew color to them.









2 left to stain and then on to poly.
 

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The chairs look good. For future reference if you have a stain that is too dark but the right tone you can thin it with solvents and make it lighter. If it were me before you go any further I would try to make a new slat for that one chair that has one missing on the back. I know you don't want to take the chair apart to insert it but you could dowel it into the top rail and put a screw up from the bottom to hold it.
 
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