Sunday, July 10, 2011

You've Got to Know When to Fold 'Em - Aluminum Lawnchair Goodness!

How do I love thee folding aluminum lawn chairs? Let me count the ways....

One of my very first posts here touched on my odd fascination with vintage folding aluminum lawn chairs.  That was in the dark ages when I had no followers and no comments AT ALL.  I'm guessing many of you haven't looked back that far.  So this is sort of a summer re-run.  But if you read through to the end, I think you'll see a couple chairs you're really going to like.

Aluminum folding chairs are great because they're light weight, portable, aluminum, customizable, restorable with only a few basic tools, and well, they were a part of the landscape wherever you were in the 1950s - 1970s.  (My parents had several with redwood slats instead of nylon webbing.)  These chairs tend to be cheap and plentiful, and as far as I know, no one has written a collectibles book on them.

So how many of these babies do I have?  Well, let's not focus on the numbers because, if SWMBO actually knew the number she might have me committed.  So, how about I just share pictures of some of my favorites?

These three matching chairs came out of an estate sale last year.

They're in great shape, with original webbing, and they remain sturdy.  I think I paid $10 for all three.

Several of my chairs were restoration projects.

This one was my first - as you can see, I rescued it from the trash pile.  It's easy to replace the webbing on these, especially if the webbing is attached with screws.  Even if some screws are missing, just take one and find some replacements at the hardware store.  You can still find the webbing kits, especially on that online auction site.

It helps to have a power screwdriver but it's not necessary.  A knife or pair of scissors and an awl or something with a sharp point to make a hold in the webbing is about all you need.  Take some photos of the chair so you can see how the webbing was interwoven, but it's really not rocket science.

It helps to stretch the webbing as tight as you can.  Cut it just a little long and fold the ends to to a point.

Screw one end into the chair, then stretch the other end, fold it, line it up and punch a hole, insert the screw and attach the second end to the chair.

Once you get the hang of it you can do one of these small chairs in about an hour or less.  If you really want to go to the trouble, you can use some fine steel wool and some aluminum polish and shine the metal up before attaching any webbing.

For this first project chair, I did spend some time shining it up.  Here's the end result.

Here are some others that I've repaired.  I like the two-tone look of these.  Notice how they're similar but there are many varieties of bends in the tubing and shapes on the armrests.

I've bought the webbing in lots and I still have a pretty good selection, but lately I haven't found any chairs to repair.

So I promised up front that you would see a couple chairs you might really like.  Time to deliver:

Look closely at these.  Check out this original webbing.  Do you see it?  The starburst pattern?!?!  Is that cool, or what?

I nabbed this pair of chairs off ebay several years ago because they're so unique.  Check it out, even the armrests have the pattern.


  1. Love aluminum lawn chairs! They're so much classier (and lighter to carry!) than those awful fold-into-a-bag chairs.

  2. I have a few of them myself.. Not as many as you though. lol I love them and plan on continuing my collection. But that starburst one you have.. TAKES THE CAKE! I love it... ITS FUNKY!

  3. That's quite a collection. I don't think I've ever seen a starburst patterned chair like that before either.

  4. Oh my gosh. Remember how many times we, or a family or friend, crashed and burned sitting in those chairs, or the lounge chairs of the same webbing type? We always had these when we were growing up. :)

  5. Oh yeah, any vintage collector worth their metal (as in aluminum!) should own a pair of these! In all their vintage finger pinching glory! I have a bunch of them myself, usually found for free or crazy cheap at estate sales. I have a couple that have that wide radius bend in the tubing on the bottom legs...if you lean over to far to the left or right, they will rock on the ground and drop you! Hahahah! Its funny to see my friends struggle for balance in those! The starburst pair you have are truly one-of-a-kind...I've never seen any THAT COOL!

  6. I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves these! Have you seen the "crafty" versions where it looks like someone has macrame'd the seat and back? I saw one that would match our vintage trailer perfectly but there was only one- and we'd need two for Retro Roadhusband and me!