Any DIY home enthusiast should have available to them a good selection of upholstery tools. With the economic squeeze making everyone tighten their belts, repairing or refurbishing upholstery could save you an absolute fortune compared to dashing out and buying new chairs – just for the sake of a little time and creativity. Of course, it might be that you even have some particularly fine old chairs or even antique chairs, in which case you’ll be keen to do any re-upholstering on them yourself.
Unlikely Upholstery Tools
Depending on the exact way that the original furniture upholstery was fitted you might need to remove any original tacks or, in the case of more modern furniture, staples. Then, when re-upholstering the chairs you’ll need to fix the new material in place.
If the chairs were originally upholstered with staples, you haven’t got to go out and buy a staple gun if you haven’t already got one. Instead you can replace the staples with ordinary tacks, using your tacking or pin hammer.
A wooden mallet might seem a rather eccentric upholstery tool. However, they are incredibly useful when it comes to gently knocking out any glued joints or even the seat of a chair from its frame. Also, in conjunction with an old chisel, you can use the mallet to chop the heads off old tacks that are proving stubborn to draw out with the pincers.
Upholstery Tools for Cutting
A large pair of heavy duty scissors are essential for any job working with fabrics. Given the purpose to which they’re put, upholstery fabrics tend to be thick and heavy; therefore, do buy yourself the very best quality in scissors that you can afford. In the long run it will make cutting the fabric easier for you and result in neater cuts being made.
A sharp knife, like a Stanley knife, is also recommended for removing old fabric and cutting through very thick fabrics and webbing. Having a selection of old knives, of different shapes and sizes, in your upholstery tool kit is also to be recommended. These will be useful for a variety of things from sliding in between parts of the chair to lever them apart – to using an old carving knife to cut pieces of foam rubber.
Needles for Your Tool Kit
The bigger the selection of needles you have in your upholstery tool kit the better – as it means you’ll be less likely to find yourself half way through a job, then having to leave it whilst you go out to a DIY or needlecraft store to get the needle you need. Specialist needles you’ll definitely need are: darning, mattress, half-circle and sack needles.
It’s also a good idea to have some old knitting needles around, these are invaluable when it comes to holding a new hessian in place before tacking it on and are very useful for sending thread under a seat cover from one end to the other.
The different needles themselves are useful for jobs like repairing a tear on a seam along the edge of a chair cushion with the half-circle needle or using the mattress needle to replace decorative buttons.
Other Tools Worth Considering
Wire cutters and pliers – to repair or replace over-stretched or broken springs. A power drill with wood and metal bits – to drill new holes to attach new/replacement springs to a chair frame. Finally, not so much an option as an essential item – a tape measure.
Photo by Andrew Turner, Creative Commons Attribution License