New chair finishing operation offers efficiency, safety
October 5, 2018 | 4:16 pm CDT

These chairs were made to last, and to look good.

Vision Furniture, a manufacturer and importer of wooden Chiavari chairs, has completed a wooden furniture refinishing operation in Philadelphia outfitted by Global Finishing Solutions. This project was two years in the making and is one of the only domestic facilities of its kind specializing in the refurbishing of Chiavari ballroom chairs.

The new 2,100 square foot paint refinishing workshop is in the Wissinoming neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia. It filters approximately 99.84 percent of paint particulates and makes it possible for Vision to refinish up to 500 Chiavari chairs per day.

Vision Furniture invested in this refinishing and chair repair workshop to refinish their own large rental inventory of wooden Chiavari chairs, create new furniture concepts for special event rentals in Philadelphia, and expand their business and create new jobs by offering custom paint and refinishing services to other local event rental companies.

“This paint facility makes it possible for us to not only touch up the rental inventory but also take on refurbishment projects from companies who have purchased Vision Furniture brand Chiavari chairs over the past 15 years,” said Anthony Tokarchyk, president and owner of Vision Furniture.

“Also, the business thrives on the ability to create new products for event rentals, like the champagne mirror tables and reclaimed wood farm tables, and the new workshop allows us to do just that.”

The paint studio features a large, four-station painting area complete with air-supplied respirators from Allegro Industries and Fuji HVLP spray guns, an expansive filtered drying room and a ventilated paint mixing room. The custom equipment was outfitted by Grapek Bates Finishing and manufactured by Global Finishing Solutions.

Vision Furniture employs approximately 20 full time people and 30 part-time workers depending on the season. They operate out of about 40,000 square feet of warehouse space and the finishing workshop is about 2,100 square feet.

Special event chair

The Chiavari chair was created by Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi in Chiavari, Italy, more than 200 years ago. The original style of the chair was petite, lightweight, elegant, durable and made from cherry, maple or other Italian hardwoods. The Chiavari style chair is commonly used in the wedding and special event industry.

Chiavari is a commercial style of chair, not a brand, so there is a lot of quality variation across the market. Vision Furniture Chiavari chairs are made from acacia wood, free from cracks, worm holes or other imperfections that could undermine the structural integrity of the chair. The wood is then turned on industrial lathes to achieve the classic faux bamboo look that is indicative of the Chiavari style. The wood is then steam bent and dried to an 8 percent moisture content before assembly.

Today, the assembly process is done entirely by hand at the Chinese factory using a classic mortise and tenon technique much like what is used on the original Italian Chiavari chair. They use a quality plywood seat with a special hardware system that makes a robust chair for commercial use in a busy ballroom environment.

“Wood is a great material to make a commercial chair,” Anthony Tokarchyk said. “When made properly, a quality wood chair can last indefinitely with proper maintenance and care. Quality wood chairs can often be seen in libraries and other public settings for decades. Many times, when we test modern plastic and metal versions of the Chiavari chairs, they fail product testing and are mostly built to sell at the cheapest price rather than longevity and reliability.”

At the Philadelphia location the business has evolved over the years from designing furniture to building, contracting and finishing furniture. They also make custom cushions, and have a sewing room and metal fabrication studio.

New finish shop include an expansive filtered drying room and a ventilated paint mixing room. Custom equipment was outfitted by Grapek Bates Finishing and manufactured by Global Finishing Solutions.

Finishing operation

In the new finishing operation, Vision Furniture primarily uses pre-catalyzed nitrocellulose lacquers. They create colors using color concentrates and metallic pigments for the metallic chair colors.

They made sure that the finishing operation domestically is consistent with the factory finishes in China so that
the chair frames can be repaired and maintained consistently. They are also offering refurbishment programs for customers that may have owned the chairs for many years but want Vision to service any loose chair joints and bring the finish back to life.

Global Finish Solutions and Grapek Bates set up the 14-foot open face spray booth, 20-foot open face drying room, paint mix room, and 2,000,000 BTU air makeup unit custom made for Vision.

The Fuji HVLP spray guns with the two-quart pressure pots reportedly provide plenty of volume to get the job done. The guns are also said to be easy to service and long lasting. The setup includes four HVLP systems which can be turned off and on so four workers can paint at one time, if needed. The two-quart pressure pot modification allows them to paint larger volumes of chairs without the fatigue of holding the one-quart pressure at the bottom of the gun.

The painting booth is a 14-foot wide open face spray booth that is equipped with a GFS Constaflow system that has proven to be effective and helps to maintain consistent airflow through the booth. As the filters clog with overspray the GFS Constaflow speeds up the fan to keep the airflow constant. This was a very helpful upgrade.

The large 20 x 27 foot drying room is important to the business and worker safety. As products are painted, they go immediately into the open face drying room. This room keeps constant air flow across the off-gassing products and keeps the work spaces vapor free.

Vision has a large 2,000,000 BTU air makeup unit that keeps the 2,100 square foot workshop fed with clean filtered air and keeps the room at constant pressure. Otherwise, they would be depleting the entire warehouse of air. Vision also invested in a system from Allegro Safety that sends clean air to the painters who wear full face masks. This ensures eye and respiratory safety with clean air.

For the future, Vision Furniture is always conceiving new special events furniture and décor ideas. They are working on building a collection of faux boxwood topiary walls using steel, wood and plastic.

White Chiavari bar stools are touched up. The painting booth is a 14-foot wide open face spray booth that is equipped with a GFS Constaflow system.


Process of refinishing chair frames

At this time, a lot of the finishing at Vision Furniture is geared towards refurnishing chair frames and the process includes:

- Degreasing the old finish using a solvent such as naptha or mineral spirits
- Orbital and hand sanding with dust collection to prepare the surfaces for painting
- Applying stains where needed to color match
- Running the full frame through the painting booth
- Painted chairs then
goes into the drying room to cure


Vision Furniture

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Product: Chairs, mirror tables, wood farm tables

Employees: 20

Plant size: 40,000 square feet

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About the author
Karl Forth

Karl D. Forth is online editor for CCI Media. He also writes news and feature stories in FDMC Magazine, in addition to newsletters and custom publishing projects. He is also involved in event organization, and compiles the annual FDM 300 list of industry leaders. He can be reached at