Now that I learned how to restore the Eames fiberglass shell chairs, I decided to tackle another project. I was going to restore one of the two orange arm shells I purchased online a few years ago. I have been using one with a rocker base and the other with an Eiffel base. After the purchase, I used a fiberglass cleaner designed for boats to clean and polish them. They were not as shiny as I wanted them to be, so I decided to try the restoration method I learned from a website called “chairfag.com” to restore the fiberglass back to its original luster. It’s a really good website that walks you through an arm shell shock mount removal and fiberglass restoration with a lot of pictures. If you are planning to restore your shell chair, you should definitely check it out.
I set up a working area outside, since it requires a wet sanding. I pulled a garden hose and filled the bottom of my chair with water. Gearing up with a safety glasses, a mask and a pair of thick vinyl gloves, I started to sand the chair with a fine sanding block. With the garden hose, I wet the area as I sanded to prevent fiberglass dust from getting all over the place. There were some tiny paint spots on my chair I didn’t notice before. I got rid of them by sanding the chair as well.
Once I sanded the entire chair, I rinsed it with water and gave it a sponge bath with Oxyclean to remove the embedded dirt as much as possible. Then I let it air dry.
The next step was to coat the chair with a product called “Penetrol” that I picked up at Home Depot. To do this, I moved the working area to my porch. The porch was a perfect spot as it was well ventilated and had a minimum effect from the wind and dust. Penetrol is an oil paint conditioner that is also used to restore fiberglass. I first applied the coat to the bottom of the chair and let it set for a few hours. I then attached the base, flipped the chair over and applied Penetrol to the rest of the chair.
The chair is now shiny and looks much better than it was.
Disclaimer – this post is just to share my experience and not intended as a tutorial to restore your chair. If you are restoring your chair, I would recommend you research well before tackling your restoration project.