The purpose of this [article] is to show, step by step, how to re-upholster chairs and couches. The tools listed are the minimum equipment.
A pair of shears, gimp hammer (i.e., a small hammer and tack puller combined), webbing stretcher, a long darning needle and a curved upholstery needle.
The stretcher may be made by driving nails into a piece of wood, filing off the heads, and sharpening each end. If no stretcher is available, use this simple device: Take a board about 1/2 X 4 X 10 inches. Wrap the loose end of the webbing around the narrow way of the board so that the board is to the underside. Use this as a lever, bracing the board against the frame to stretch the webbing tight.
Remove the gimp, outer and inner covering, and padding, being careful not to mar the wood. If the springs and webbing are in good condition and in position, they need not be removed. If not, dismantle the chair down to the frame. Pull out all tacks left around the seat, and glue any loose joints. If the chair needs refinishing, this should be done before the work of rebuilding is commenced.
Use three and one-half inch webbing. The average sized chair seat has two rows of webbing running from side to side, and two or three rows from front to back.
Turn the chair upside down and work on the underside. Locate the strips of webbing to give ample support to the springs. If three strips are to be used from front to back, place the center one first.
Use the uncut roll of webbing. Fold the loose end over about one inch and tack with four or five 10 oz. tacks near the middle of the rail. Use the webbing stretcher to pull the webbing across tightly, and fasten with two or three tacks. Cut the webbing one inch longer, fold it back over the tacked portion, and fasten it down with two more.
Proceed in like manner with all the strips, interlacing.
1 From Upholstering Old Chairs and Couches. University of New Hampshire Extension Service, 1928.
Use four, five or six springs according to the size of the seat. If the old ones are in good condition, they may be used. Arrange on lapped parts of the webbing with bent ends of springs up in such a manner as to give good support and good shape. A two and a half or a three-inch space is left between the outer edge of the springs and the rail.
With stitching twine sew the lower round of the springs to the webbing in three or four places, making a close loop over the bottom coil on top of the webbing and a long stitch from one point of fastening to the other on the underside. Make the end secure. A darning needle can be used quite satisfactorily for this sewing.
For tying use spring twine, jute No. 60. The cords should be about one and three-fourths times the width across the seat.
Wrap the end of the twine around a 10 oz. tack, and drive the tack into the top edge of the frame in a line with the center of the spring. Push the spring down firmly so the outer edge is about one inch lower than the inner edge. Hold the twine and spring in position with the left hand. With the right hand pass the free end of the twine down inside the coil, up on the left side of the fastened end, down inside the coil again, up on the right side of the fastened end, and through the loop formed. Pull the twine tight. This makes the clove-hitch knot which holds the spring securely even if the twine across the open end of the spring wears through.
Stretch the twine across the top of the spring to the opposite side. The knot is the same as used before, but in making it the twine goes over the outside of the top coil first and then up on the inside. This procedure places the knots in a position to stand the wear best.
See that the second spring stands equi-distant from the first at the top and bottom. Proceed as with the first spring. To fasten the end of the twine drive a tack partly into the rail opposite the first one, wrap the twine once and a half around it, pull the spring into position, tighten the twine, and drive the tack in securely. Be careful not to drive it down so tightly as to cut the cord. A second tack close to the other across the twine will make the fastening more secure.
The springs must be tied to the frame with one twine from front to back, one from side to side, and two diagonals. The last twine should be tied to all others crossing in the center of the top of the springs. This prevents wear from rubbing. When the tying is complete the seat should give a slightly rounded effect with the bodies of the springs standing erect.