These Lyon steel drafting stools are straight from the architecture school where I was an undergrad over a decade ago. Rusted and layered with spray paint, they were pretty well-worn even when I was in school. Recently, when the department underwent renovations, a friend picked these up for free when they were discarded during construction. We paid him $5 each for the trouble of scavenging them and then started looking into refinishing.
It was going to take hours to strip away the rust ourselves, and we weren't keen on the stinky naval jelly required to do so. To add insult to injury, we used the stools as "ladders" during a backyard shed building project, so they took an additional beating while awaiting their fix-up:
After some research, we decided to have the stools sandblasted to remove layers upon layers of spray paint and rust. If they were sound (and there were doubts), the same company would go ahead and powder coat them in a color of our choosing. Turns out, there was steel left under all of that rust after all!
The stools look like new at just over $50 each. The bright yellow RAL color we selected complements our walnut countertops and brings an extra dose of sunshine into our kitchen.
We were careful to instruct the sandblaster to use a light touch around the stool's stamped labels, as we love the Lyon imprint proudly boasting that the stools are from Aurora, Illinois.
Here's a look at how the infamous feet cleaned up. These were seriously rusted, and I had a contingency plan for coating them in rubber if the rust left behind only nubs of steel that would mar our floors. But the feet are now super smooth and glide over the floor just fine with no special pads.
I'm excited about the new life that sandblasting and powder coating can bring to old metal objects. So much so that I am now always on the lookout for sad, rusty furnishings that have great form under worn finishes. I'd highly recommend this route to anyone: just consult your phonebook for metal finishing, sandblasting, or powder coating companies. They often see more car body parts than furniture, but will likely delight in a change of pace.
(Images: Regina Yunghans)