The following tools are used during the different phases of the upholstery process.
Stripping Down and Frame Inspection
Mallets are sometimes used during the stripping down process to aid in staple removal. When an upholsterer is unable to remove a staple with a staple puller alone, they will use the mallet to hit the end of the tool for extra force. When using a mallet for this, be sure to move your hand out of the way ahead of time and lean away from the staple, as it could come flying at you upon removal.
Upholsterers use tack pullers to remove any tacks that are holding fabric in place, at which point they can discard the old fabric and inspect the layers underneath.
Staples are also used to hold upholstery fabric in place, and staple pullers serve to remove them so that stripping down can take place. Just insert the two prongs at the end under the staple and press down on the the handle to pull it out. When upholsterers need extra force to remove a staple, or when they want to remove an entire row of staples at one time, they may use a mallet to knock the end of the staple puller. For that reason, staple pullers are sometimes called “staple knockers.”
Side cutters are used for cutting wire and removing staples, especially when the staples are located in narrow channels and staple pullers will not work. The head of side cutters is specially designed for easy viewing, gripping, and pulling.
Flat Nose Pliers
Flat nose pliers allow upholsterers to straighten bent wire, which is necessary for removing old springs when stripping down a piece of furniture.
Ripping hammers are double-edged at specific angles to aid in the stripping of old fabric and staples.
Spring Clip Pliers
Spring clip pliers are used to connect seat wire to springs.
Pulling pliers are used to remove staples. The angle of the pliers’ nose is designed to make inserting underneath the staple, taking hold of it, and removing it easy even in narrow spaces.
Tack hammers are used to secure webbing in place with tacks. The magnetized split end of the hammer allows you to hold the tack before hammering it.
Webbing stretchers give upholsterers the leverage to catch webbing close to the furniture’s frame. This tool can be used to attach new webbing or to tighten existing webbing.
Staple guns are used for stapling webbing in place.
Spring End Former
Spring end formers are used to bend, or “form,” the end of a spring so that it does not come out of the spring clip when mounted on the furniture’s frame. For more complex bends, you can mount the spring end former in a vise.
Klinch-its have eliminated the time-consuming process of sewing springs to the webbing by allowing upholsterers to fasten them with sturdy steel clips instead. Just fill the klinch-it magazine with two strips of fasteners, hold the tool upright, place the nozzle over the spring, press down until the fastener’s prongs pierce the webbing, and squeeze the lever.
A spring stretcher is a tool with a lever that allows you to position sinuous springs. Attach the spring to one side of the frame, place the tool’s hook on the second-to-last loop on the other end of the spring, and use the lever to slowly pull it into position.
Upholsterers use wire cutters to cut springs to the appropriate length.
Stuffing and Padding
Spray adhesives are used to bond foam, stuffing, or padding to other surfaces or materials.
A filler bazooka helps fill pillows, pillow backs, cushions, mattresses, and mattress pads efficiently without the mess. Just position the back end of the blower above the container of filling and the front end into the item that’s being filled. The tool works with shredded foam, kapok, styrofoam pellets, down, and other loose filling materials.
Upholstery regulators serve to smooth out any irregularities in the various layers of stuffing before the top cover is applied. Like needles, upholstery regulators come in different lengths and gauges.
Top Cover and Finishing
Upholsterers use scissors to cut the top cover fabric to size.
A staple gun is used to staple the top cover over the stuffing and padding.
Hot Glue Gun
Upholsterers sometimes use a hot glue gun to attach the final trim or welting detail.
Seam stretchers help upholsterers stretch seams out and smooth out any wrinkles before blind stitching. This tool can also be used as a caliper to cut large circles and sew blind stitches.
Curved Needle Kit
Curved needles are used for slip-stitching cushions, attaching outer fabric sections, seat work, box edges, and edge rolls.
Decorative Nail Gun
Upholsterers use decorative nail guns to quickly apply decorative nails to furniture. Place a handful of decorative nails in the nail gun’s hopper to avoid frequent reloading.
After applying the top cover, upholsterers use the sharp end of an upholstery regulator to properly shape a cushion by poking through the fabric, repositioning filling or foam, and pushing it into corners or curves. The flat end of the upholstery regulator is used for finishing pleats or corners and tucking fabric under metal tack strips.
Like with the webbing, a tack hammer is used to hammer tacks that will hold the top cover in place.
Upholsterers use a button press to cut fabric and cover buttons, custom-making them for each upholstery project. The button press can be bolted to a table for added stability. Button die cutters are necessary for the use of a button press.
Button Die Cutters
Button die cutters are used with a button press to cut fabric to cover buttons. They come in a variety of sizes to create the appropriate size of fabric for the buttons being used.
At this point in the upholstery process, upholsterers use a mallet to cut holes in fabric, in tandem with a belt punch. The mallet serves to tap the belt punch and add force to cut through the fabric.
Tufting needles make it easy for upholsterers to add or replace buttons on upholstered furniture.
Button needles are used for button tufting, to create depressions in a cushion.
Upholsterers use belt punches to cut circles in fabric to an exact diameter to make buttons in a button press. The fabric should be placed on a cutting pad, and a wooden mallet or rawhide hammer (not a steel hammer) should be used to tap the belt punch.