This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
These are few in number and inexpensive to buy. The hammers used by upholsterers are peculiar. Fig. 727 shows the ordinary form, while Fig. 728 represents that known as Benwell's. Figs. 729-730 illustrate a couple of very useful light hammers of American design. The pincers employed for straining canvas are shown in Fig. 731. In addition will be required rule and tape measures, heavy and light scissors, screws and screwdriver, round needles of assorted sizes, double-pointed needles (6, 8,10,12, and 14 in. long), ripping chisel, bradawl, and mallet.
Among stuffing materials, horsehair continues to hold the first place, ranging in price from 7d. to 2s. a lb., 18d being a good average quality. It is bought in the "rope," and teazed out, preferably by hand, as the machines invented for the purpose are said to injure the quality and reduce the length of the staple. The poorest grades are suitable for rolls and very inferior work; that costing about 10d. a lb. is adapted for the last stuffing of ordinary hair-covered furniture; while only the best kind should be put into mattresses.
Horsehair when used alone has a tendency to manifest a crispness or harshness to the touch, and for this reason it is usual to overlay it with a little wadding, placed soft side downwards, which also prevents the ends of the hairs protruding in time through the covering of the furniture. This wadding costs about 1s. 6d. a dozen.
Feathers are popular for filling beds, being warmer and lighter. Prices range from 6d. to 2s. 6d. a lb, but the lowest prices are not by any means always the cheapest, as the better qualities are more elastic and consequently may be used in smaller quantities with equally good or better results. Flocks, costing 3d, to 10d. a lb., are used as cheaper substitutes for feathers in second-rate mattresses, beds, and pillows. Various vegetable fibres are used for first stuffing in furniture, among the most generally used being alfa, Spanish moss, Algerian fibre, Mexican fibre, and coconut fibre.
Leather coverings are of 2 kinds, morocco (goat skin) and roan (sheep skin). The former runs in sizes of 25 to 35 in. wide, and is far the better in point of wear and keeping its colour. Roans run larger (30 to 38 in. wide), but only cost about half as much as moroccos. Being softer they are easier to work, but are apt to be torn by buttons when these are used, and generally speaking they are only fit for the outside backs of chairs and such positions, where they do not actually get any wear and tear. Among the various other materials employed as coverings, the principal are: American leather cloth, made about 45 in. wide; Utrecht velvet, 24 in.; damasks, reps, and tapestries, 50 in.; cretonne, 30 to 36 in.; silk plush, 24 in.
Some of the most useful twines for upholstering are made by the "West of England Twine Works. For tying down springs, sewing, buttoning, and stitching, select No. 28 3-cord mattress twine; and for lashing down springs, No. 360 laid cord.