Refurbishing Danish Teak Retro Table Lamps from the G Plan Era

Refurbishing Danish Teak Retro Table Lamps from the G Plan Era

Teak Retro Table Lamps and Household Objects

The G Plan Era was the start of the worlds love affair with modernist teak furniture and household items. In Britain this era started in the mid-1950s and ran well into the 1970s. As a child I can remember every adult relative having pieces of modern teak design. The idea started in Denmark and quickly spread across the world. During this period all types of household items were produced in teak with new modernist styles and daring space age inspired designs; Spun Fiberglass Rocket lamps with teak legs, teak candlesticks, salt and pepper sets, salad bowls, table ware and a magnificent and wide range of wonderful abstract teak wall mirrors.

Retro Teak PlanterA 1960s Teak Planter with Dansette legs

Retro Teak LightingDanish 1960s Teak Candlesticks

retro teak lightingA 1970s Teak and Mosaic Table Lamp


During the 1970s teak lighting was also really popular with teak and glass ceiling lights being widespread and of course wonderful teak retro table lamps.

I remember the time when teak went out of fashion, pieces of furniture and lighting disappeared from my relatives homes and during this period many fabulous old teak items were lost forever.

Luckily over the last 25 years or so this mid-century period of design has once again become popular with many specialist retailers and on line dealers specialising in mid century teak furniture and accessories so there is now a good choice of items for those of us who want to own a piece of the G Plan era.

A project to bring back to life an original and outstanding Danish Teak table lamp that dates from the mid-1960s period

This great looking old lamp was purchased from a house clearance contact who had put it to one side for me. It was in a sorry state and had a few issues but it has a great space age design and is made from a piece of substantial teak with a lovely dark grain.

Retro Teak LightingThe table lamp as found.

Retro Teak LightingThe teak carried many signs of life and age.

The first task was to assess the lamp parts. The lamp was stripped and laid out for assessment. Having had a good look at the lamp parts it was clear that the lamp needed quite a few hours work to bring it back to a usable state.

The major issues – Small dents and scratches to the teak – Tarnish and staining to the brass lamp base – An overhaul of the wiring was needed – Cleaning of the teak.

The lamp parts laid out.

Being from the 1960s the lamp has spent much of its life in a home where smoking was an everyday occurrence. Smoking has the potential to ruin a wooden lamp, if a wooden lamp is not sealed or varnished the smoke can enter the grain of the wood and over time can become so deeply embedded that the tobacco smell can never be removed meaning that the lamp is lost forever (unless you like the smell of tobacco that is)

Luckily this lamp has a coat of thick and heavy varnish which meant that the teak underneath was saved from the effects of the cigarette smoke.

The first thing to do was to remove the tobacco from the outside of the lamp, I have found that spray-on household foaming cleaners are ideal for this task, I use a product called “Cillet Bang” which draws the dirt and tobacco away from the lamp, when you use these foaming sprays you can actually see the tobacco being drawn out.

Vintage Teak LightingYears of Tobacco being drawn out of the lamps varnish.

After drying the old stained varnish was removed by gentle use of medium and fine wire wool, this has to carried out with some care as teak is a beautiful wood but it will dent and mark in areas of lighter and wider grain.

Retro Teak LightingThe lamp with its stained and marked varnish removed ready for its final polishing.


The teak and brass base were then smoothed back and polished using finer grades of wire wool, at this stage the lamp is ready for its finishing process and assembly.

The teak on this lamp is of a nice dark shade, the teak was cleaned and nourished using “Liquid Gold” treatment oil which does a great job of cleaning and nourishing the wood before the finial finish is applied. For this lamp I chose a dark finishing wax which complimented the dark grain of the teak.

With the lamp assembled it was time for a rewire. Being from a period where standards were different it is important to smooth out any sharp edges on the wiring route and to make sure that you install cable protection and stays. On this old lamp cable sheathing was used on the cable entry and a heavy cable tie was used as a stay to prevent wire pull during use.

Fit modern cable protection and stays to any lamp restoration.

When finished the lamp was given a third and final coat of wax. Old marks from manufacture and small dents and signs of use are visible but these are not significant and are part of this great looking lamps history. With any old lamp restoration it is worth remembering the age of the item, in the case of this lamp = half a century!

Vintage Teak retro table lampThe finished lamp with the old teak glowing and showing great colour and depth.

Here is the final finished lamp. It has a great shape that really makes the most of the beautiful teak it is made from, I think this is one of the best examples I have ever owned in terms of shape and design. If you fancy a bit of historical mid-century teak lighting then why not look on line and in your local flea markets and vintage centres. Mid-century teak lighting can still be found for very reasonable prices due to the designs being unappreciated by many dealers.

I hope you like it.

Materials –

Medium and Fine wire wool. Liquid Gold cleaning oil. Dark Wax. Metal polish. Earthed Wiring. Earthed Brass bulb holder. Cable ties. Protective sheathing

Time Spent on the lamp – 3 Hours and 30 Minutes.

I often have a number of Vintage and Retro Teak items for sale in my eBay shop here – Hertfordshire Lighting and Design

If you have a lighting project in mind and need some help or advice please ask and I will do my very best to help.

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