How to Save a Broken Arne Jacobsen Chair From the Trash Heap





Introduction: How to Save a Broken Arne Jacobsen Chair From the Trash Heap

About: I am an artist, educator, tinkerer, and repurposer, err, recycler.

The college where I work has several of these wonderful Model 3107 plywood chairs designed by Arne Jacobsen. Our local symphony orchestra uses them when they perform in our campus theatre. When the chairs are not in use, they are usually stowed away for safekeeping. But recently, a few have somehow found their way into a classroom or two where they have come to a bad end. A couple of weeks ago I saw one broken in half and lying on a pile of trash bags. Well, I couldn't let it be tossed away, so I grabbed it to see if I could somehow save it.

Step 1: Assessing the Damage

I removed the frame from the seat of the chair. The tubular frame is attached to the chair seat with three screws and the screw plate is covered with a plastic cap. Easy stuff to do. The frame looked pretty good but as you can see the plywood edge is pretty ragged.

Step 2: Repairing the Damage

First thing I did was to glue the plywood, where it had started to split, back together. I used Elmer's Wood Glue. I wedged the splits open with a scraper and forced glue into the seams. Then I clamped the whole thing together and let it set for 24 hours.

Step 3: Cutting a Curved Back

Next, I decided to trim up the edge. I traced the existing curves of the chair seat onto a sheet of paper and modified it until it looked good. I transferred the curve onto the front and back of the chair. The front so that I could see what it would look like and the back because I would need to cut the curve from the underside of the seat. I used a jigsaw for this part. Sorry, no shots of the cutting.

Step 4: Completing the Repair

For this step, I used a wood filler and decided to work with a water-based product from Ace Hardware. There are many wood fillers on the market and probably any of them would have been fine. The first layer was pretty thick so I waited a full 24 hours before applying a second layer. I also applied filler to other nicks and scratches on the seat. After the second layer was dry (about 4 more hours) I was able to sand it down.

Step 5: Painting and Putting It All Back Together

I used a brush-on primer to seal the wood filler. In addition to the familiar stained finish, Jacobsen chairs come in a variety of bright colors. I decided to paint mine Sun Yellow. I used a Krylon indoor/outdoor spray paint. It took two cans to fully cover the top and underside of the chair.

Step 6: The Arne Jacobsen Stool!

In my living room.



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    Plywood might be able to be relaminated, say by taking a single ply of new wood and regluing, but I don't know if it would work. And for price of repair you could probably buy a new chair.

    Good luck with your oroject.

    Hi, Nice job. I am glad I found this job

    I have chair like this one and the wood is damaged at the bend ....any suggestions on how to fix the wood so I can keep it as it is ? I appreciate any suggestions or help

    See pictures


    beautiful job! thank you for saving the chair.that's recycling at it's best!

    This chair looks fantastic--I wonder how someone managed to break that poor chair in half? Great instructable!

    Something catch my interest in this post, it was Arne.
    Just a beautiful work you´ve done here to save this chair, go and look for a complete set of Arne Stools now.

    Nice job saving that chair.

    You can also use auto body filler, such as Bondo for repairs to wood that you are going to paint. It may even be less expensive than the plastic wood filler you used.

    1 reply

    I had originally thought of using Bondo -
    If for some reason the wood filler looses its bond, I'll definitely try it.

    Nice! I like the "smooth" look of the chair.

     You definitely did that beautiful chair justice! And the yellow color is perfect. :D

    1 reply

    I love the chair and I love the yellow color too.

    This is a beautiful piece - congrats!  I like how you maintained the original lines and ended up with something that looks like it was meant to be a stool. 

    1 reply

    It seems too nice to sit on! ;-)

     Oh, and also, change your first picture to the final stool (first picture last step). Its a much better picture for showing off your project with.

    1 reply

    This is great, I just love using reclaimed materials. Good work :)

    Great work saving this chair! It a nice stool, the yellow completes it for sure.

    To think most people would just walk past and see nothing but trash.