Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Weekend Project Complete. I Finally Got The Hardoy Butterfly Chair Frames Primed And Painted Sunday. Status: Before And After Satiny Black.


Any of my neighbors who might have been awake at 2am last night might think I'm a little weird.  Who spray paints chair frames hanging from a tree in their front yard...at 2am?  This guy.  That's who!  Hey, it was warm...and well, they were already hanging there from the primer spraying earlier during the day.


As you might recall, I purchased this pair of vintage Hardoy "Butterfly" chairs from the South

County antique mall
for a song just a couple of weeks ago.  Nothing about them was mint but

the frames were solid and the slings still serviceable.  One of the frames was covered in surface

rust and the other was badly painted with shiny black paint.


One of the chairs had duct tape wrapped around the lower "knees" of the chair.  Dunno why.

This was the same frame that had the surface rust so I unwound the tape and broke out the

3M paint stripper wheel and drill.  I took it mostly down to bare metal and left the painted

one as is, less cleaning it with some Goof Off so that the primer would have a clean surface

to adhere to.


After spending about an hour and a half (maybe longer) stripping the paint and rust off the one

frame and cleaning up the other I got out the rattle can of primer and hung the frames from the

tree in the front yard.  I almost ran out of primer as I had used this can on another project, but

I had just enough.  I left the frames hanging in the tree to dry.  Then, like I said above, at about

2am I decided to go ahead and give the frames a shot of the rattle can Satin Black.  I missed a

few spots in the dark but this was just the first coat.


The initial coat was good enough for me to get these pics shot this morning.  Much better pics

than my first attempt a few weeks ago.  After shooting the pics I removed the slings and gave

the frames another shot, hitting the spots that I missed last night.  They'll get another couple of

thin layers before I'm done.  They won't be as durable as if they had been powder coated but

I've got some other steel items that I've painted like this that have been sitting out in the elements

for many seasons and are still looking good.  It's the "feet" that worry me most though.  These

will be skidded on concrete every time they get moved and that will wear right through the paint

no matter how many layers I give them.


These are gonna look great when I'm done.  I'm on the fence about flipping them.  I so totally

don't need any more patio furniture and I actually have another set of Knoll style Hardoy

Butterfly chairs but that works both way with me since I like to have "sets"!  I'm pretty sure I'll

be offering these to the public shortly.  Next project is the bases of those Coral Barstools,

again in Satiny Black!


  1. I don't know a lot about butterfly chairs, so I'm curious to know one thing. How did they keep the paint on the feet from scraping off when the chairs were first made?

    1. Hi Nick K. I think that some had clip on pads but most had a tube of rubber or maybe vinyl
      that the manufacturer must have put on before welding the rod together. So I guess we're stuck with looking for some sort of clip on feet.

  2. I don't think I've been out working at that hour, but I definetely work late into the evening a lot of nights. I cover the store 5 days a week so jumping into projects when I get home is a given. I always have a project happening...chairs look great!

    1. Hi A Mod. Since I have a "normal" job I too have to mess with these projects when I can. I just won't be doing anything noisy at that crazy hour!

    2. I too try not to bug the neighbors after about ten or so. They are outdoor types and I'm sure they already hate my sander and/or compressor running non-stop when I'm working although when asked, they never complain. Super nice people and I think they appreciate I need to make a living...

  3. I don't know if they all had them, but I have a set of chairs with little plastic feet that snap on the bottom. Some are missing on mine and would like to find some more. I have run into some hairpin legs with the same style feet. I purchased a cheap set of hairpin legs once just for the feet. They work, but the diameter of the clip is smaller. Just an idea, but you could do the same. I have also thought about some black gorilla tape on the bottom to protect the floor.

    1. Hi B2R. I know exactly what you are talking about! I have two sets of those glides. I tried to quickly find them online but came up short. I'm sure they are still out there. I'll keep looking. I bet there sitting right down the street at True Value Hardware.

  4. I always have this dire fear im going to go through one of those. Haha thats not to say im fat, but I think I saw it in a katherine hepburn movie once, where she went to sit down in a butterfly chair (near a pool if I recall) and as soon as she planted in is *SHWOOP* into the pool! They do look very nice though.

    1. Hi Mick. Well, if anybody can fall through a butterfly chair with grace and style it would be Kate! I wonder what movie that was? I love seeing vintage modern furniture and whatnot in old black and white movies. I saw a set of Paul Frankl rattan sunroom furniture in a black and white movie recently. Love Paul Frankl's designs.

  5. Perhaps try some black or clear tubing cut along one side and slipped over the metal for protection.

    1. Hi John. I thought about that but getting it to conform to the curve of the "foot" AND stay on might prove problematic. There are some small plastic feet out there designed to clip onto steel tube chair bases
      but I'd have to drill a tiny hole to "locate" them on the foot of the chair. I'm not averse to this possibility.

  6. I bought a table with hairpin legs, that came with plastic clips on the bottom. I have no idea where you buy them! They're little round disks that have a slot, and just pop on. I also have a metal frame chair that has tiny rubber cylinders that slide over the metal. Again, I don't know if you can get them from a furniture repair/refinisher or not. Really cute chairs!

  7. My boss found some of these vintage metal butterfly chairs in a set with some similar round metal chair frames, and says she knew them as a child as "hugs and kisses chairs" since they look like X's and O's. She's trying to figure out how to find or make covers for the round chairs. Any idea what they might be actually called, or where to find covers? Thank you!

    1. I have a set from my grandparents, and of course, they need covers! They called them the kiss and hug chairs, too :)
      I have not been successful in finding anybody that makes the covers for the circle chair. Seems I remember a canvas cover with grommets to pull a small rope through to secure. Any new info on this post?

  8. Hi. I just aquired a Hardoy Butterflly chair from a local Estate. I have never seen a cover quite like it. Looks like a wool tapestry rug my Granmother had in her livingroom. Wondering if anyone has ever come acorss one like this. Floral pattern. Not my taste, but very well made. Has the very thick iron hairpin legs. Would love to have a modern or leather cover instead. Pristine condition. Are these rare?

  9. http://anexosolanadelmar.blogspot.com/2010/12/hagala-usted-mismo.html

  10. I grew up with these chairs and have 8 of them now. I have also been searching for some kind of rubber protection for the legs. The ones from my childhood had tube-like rubber protectors but I can't find them anywhere now. Has anyone had any luck?

  11. Anyone had success in getting these chairs not to wobble? Apparently if the legs aren't even it increases wear on the covers.

  12. nice find! i thought about flipping these for a while bc for the longest time they were just going unused outdoors. but then we brought them in and they're my favorite chairs yet.