"It's a completely impractical process for a chair.
Unless you want a chair that lasts forever."
-Gregg Buchbinder, Owner

Step by step x 77

In 1944, our story starts with recycled aluminum - a wartime necessity - and a unique 77-step process engineered for a specific assignment - a chair to withstand the US Navy. Life on a ship is tough. Salt water. Salt air. The occasional torpedo blast. Survival will require a very resilient material. 77 steps turn ordinary scrap aluminum extraordinarily strong. This labor intense process is our heritage, our DNA and still what we do at our factory every day

How we make them:

Humble beginnings

This is our starting point - sheets and tubes of recycled aluminum. Which we cut, bend, form, weld, heat treat, hand brush and anodize in an elaborate 77-step process. Recycled aluminum is a smart material - it's lightweight, non-corrosive, fire resistant, anti-bacterial, endlessly recyclable and has a low carbon footprint. In its natural form, aluminum is soft and malleable. Perfect for us to shape into furniture. Which we then turn extraordinarily strong through an elaborate heat treating process. Engineering, chemistry and elbow grease in perfect harmony.

Good form

We start with zero temper (soft) aluminum, which takes more work, but is what enables those smooth curves and soft angles for comfort. The cut pieces of aluminum sheets and tubes are formed into chair frames, seat pans and chair legs. If you look at the chair legs of our iconic 1006 Navy chair, you'll see that the front legs are tapered and rounded on the outside. Each leg is formed from sheet aluminum and welded together, before it's welded to the seat. The seat pan, with its distinctive curved shape, is also stamped from flat sheet aluminum.

Bright spark

Every chair leg, every seat pan and every frame is welded together into a one-piece entity. We don't use any hardware or fasteners for our all-aluminum chairs and stools. The uniform, monolithic construction is part of what makes Emeco chairs extraordinarily strong.

The daily grind

After welding, every weld is ground perfectly smooth and flush, to create a streamlined silhouette. Grinding down welds requires meticulous attention. If you don't apply enough pressure, the surface will appear bumpy. Grind too hard and the weld is compromised. How the welds have been ground is one of the signs of handcraft that each Emeco chair carries. Another sign, unique to our 1006 Navy chair, are the three weld beads that each welder leaves at the top of the bars in the chair back. The craftsman's signature, unique to each chair, and never ground down.

Hot stuff

Our proprietary heat treatment process is where the soft, malleable aluminum turns super strong. First, the chair is submerged in a 960° salt bath, which hardens the aluminum from the soft 0 temper to T4. The chair is then quenched in a cold bath. Finally, the chair is baked in a special oven overnight, which takes the aluminum from T4 to T6, three times harder than steel. This process is part of the secret behind the unique strength and long lifespan of our furniture.

A perfect finish

Our signature finish is hand brushed, clear anodized. First, we brush each part of the aluminum in the direction of the aluminum grain. Then, the product is anodized, an electrolytic process that transforms the surface from aluminum to aluminum oxide - a super hard wearing, scratch resistant, outdoor approved finish that is next to the hardness of a diamond. The chair is submerged in our anodization tanks, where an electric current runs.

A sparkling result

Our hand polished finish is something extra. It takes us eight additional hours per chair to produce a sparkling finish. Every product is polished three times. First, we polish all individual parts, such as chair legs. Then we polish assembled parts that have been welded together. Finally, we polish the whole product, every little curve. The gleaming result is like a piece of jewelry to sit on. We're sure you agree it's time well spent.