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Cherner Chair Neck Repair  

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mark737
(@mark737)
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Joined: 2025 years ago
Posts: 777
22/08/2022 5:20 pm  

I just picked up a couple of early Cherners with the narrow neck/waist and one of them has a good deal of flex due to delamination and will surely break if anyone leans back on it.  What do you think would be the best way to reinforce the neck on it?  I can syringe glue into the areas that are partially separated and clamp, but I don't think this is going to be enough.  Any ideas on getting glue further into the plywood?  Would drilling some small holes help or make things worse.  Should I consider some sort of metal reinforcement?  Any ideas are appreciated.    

1661181609-Chern1.jpg
1661181635-Chern2.jpg

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Herringbone
(@herringbone)
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Joined: 2025 years ago
Posts: 990
24/08/2022 3:16 pm  

@tktoo2 ??? Plywood questions should better be answered by woodworkers. 

"People buy a chair, and they don't really care who designed it." (Arne Jacobsen)


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tktoo2
(@tktoo2)
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24/08/2022 3:40 pm  

@herringbone, @mark737, Yes, I've been mulling this one since I first read it yesterday morning. I do have thoughts though none that are particularly helpful at this point, unfortunately.

It's a complicated job as Mark is well aware. So many elements to weigh here.  

Promise to check in if suddenly struck by anything insightful...


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mark737
(@mark737)
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Posts: 777
24/08/2022 6:11 pm  

@tktoo2 @herringbone  Thanks for the replies.  It seems like you'd have to pry open the layers somehow to properly re-glue them and I can't think of a way to do that without causing major damage.  I'm thinking maybe some kind of bent steel plate reinforcement might be the only solution, using something like this and machine screws.  Not a very elegant fix but this chair was essentially free and won't get much use.   I'll hold off for now in case anyone has some better ideas.   Plenty of other projects to work on.         

1661357494-Steel.jpg

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tktoo2
(@tktoo2)
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24/08/2022 7:03 pm  

@mark737, Funny, but I've only ever seen 2 of these in the wild and both had failed in similar fashion!

That narrow "neck" can be subjected to great forces in use, one side in compression and the other in traction. When they fail, they tend to do so suddenly and catastrophically resulting in complex fractures and/or delamination (ask many vintage Eames Lounge owners).

Maybe ask on a wooden boat forum (or a local boat repair yard) about the possibility/practicality of infusing epoxy and vacuum-bagging it?


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mark737
(@mark737)
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24/08/2022 7:24 pm  

@tktoo2  Thanks, I'll see if there are any wooden boat yards in the area.  Yes, the narrow neck version was designed in the late 50's when the average American was 30 pounds lighter than today.   Plycraft eventually modified the neck from the original 2" to a more robust 3".  


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(@deleted)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 968
25/08/2022 7:05 pm  

You could probably find examples in better condition for equal or less than the cost, time and effort you are willing to spend just to save these chairs.  You could probably just modify these chairs by getting rid of the back and shaping the seats to be used as stools.  If you do an excellent repair work, be careful though that you don't hand these to someone who might try to resell these as "prototypes".

The Cherner chairs as I recall, was developed using the modified tooling/molds used by Plycraft to make the short lived Pretzel chairs by George Nelson for Herman Miller.  When the Pretzel chair was discontinued, Norman Cherner was hired to design a chair that would reuse the Pretzel chair tooling.  There are many online articles out there that talks about the controversy between Plycraft & Norman Cherner that's worth checking out.

1661447121-GN-Pretzel-Chair.jpg

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mark737
(@mark737)
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26/08/2022 6:14 pm  

@minimoma Prices on these have gone up a lot in the past few years, with good examples selling in the $300-$400 range.  And yes, the story is that Herman Miller hired Plycraft to make the Nelson chairs but discontinued them around 57 due to cost and breakage.  Plycraft hired Cherner to design a new "pretzel" chair they produced later without proper credit or royalty payments, so he sued in 61 and won.  His sons started the Cherner Chair Company in 99 and produce his original designs and those of son Benjamin. 

Vitra produced a limited edition of 1000 Nelson Pretzel chairs in 2008.  This set is up for auction next month in Germany with a starting bid of €6,000.  

1661530487-Vitra.jpg

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(@deleted)
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27/08/2022 8:16 am  

I should give credit to John Pile as the designer of the Pretzel chairs who also designed other pieces while at George Nelson and Associates.


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mark737
(@mark737)
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27/08/2022 6:44 pm  

Interesting.  There's a good summary of the chair and the Plycraft association on the George Nelson Foundation website here:  http://www.georgenelsonfoundation.org/george-nelson/works/brentwood-or-laminated-chair-pretzel-chair-57.html


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