Monday, 30 May 2011

Ercol Model 252 Fleur de Lys Easy Chair

Sometimes free is just too expensive. I was looking for a couple of light finish 203s but someone responded to the wanted ad on our works virtual notice board offering a pair of dark 252s gratis. Well gift horses and all that. Surely it wouldn't be too much work to sand off the dark and refinish in oil? How wrong can you be? I had had a bad experience with dip and strip which had made a mess of one of the "family heirloom" utility chairs so resolved to do it the hard way. After many hours one is sanded ready for treatment. Some power tools were used but it is down to old fashioned elbow grease in the end. I think I have found a specialist stripper who can do the second one without damage so will report on their services in due course.

Whilst it is tempting to change a less popular dark piece to the natural wood finish more in fashion now there are pitfalls. In some places stain finds its way into an area of open grain and just won't sand out. Also I suspect that beech components with knots or coloured grain were sent to the dark finish production line to hide the wood imperfections. I'd say that an invisible refinishing job is impossible to achieve but it's not important if you just want furniture to use.

I wouldn't try and do such an intricate piece again, but if something free and tempting came along....


  1. Did you manage to try out your "specialist Stripper"? Where they able to get it looking as good as the one in your pictures. I am looking at buying some second hand ercol furniture on ebay and the darker stuff is so much cheaper. Many thanks

  2. Hi Anthony,
    I've just stumbled apron your great blog,
    I'm in the process of restoring a set of 6 365 Quaker chairs in dark stain, striping back to refinish in a clear matt oil.
    I've tired a couple of paint/varnish strippers with mixed results and also tried scraping, with much better results. Up to now I've used a Stanley knife blade as my scraper sand paper and steelwool, I'm now waiting for a set of professional scrappers from Woodsmith Experience
    I have also just bought a 203 3 piece suite (2 chairs and a 3 seater sofa) but in dark stain that need a full bear wood restoration, so I will have my work cutout.

    Thanks once again for a great Blog, looking forward to future blogs.