Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reupholstering Old {Beautiful} Chair -- Part 1

Tomorrow I hope to post about my daughter's Halloween costume (and have it done!) but for now I'm bringing you part 1 of the saga of reupholstering this most beautiful and comfortable chair to date.  I am going to try to do it as much "by the book" as I can, using real upholstering techniques and upholstery fabric (NO lightweight cotton fabrics, even though they are cute and trendy). 

Step 1 -- If you have an older piece of furniture upholstered with tacks, buy a tack remover!  It's all of about $3 (at Joann), but it is such a wonderful tool and saves so much time, effort and headache!  I've even used it to help pry up staples that were in too deep to use pliers. 


Step 2 --  Start removing tacks from the last piece to be put on the chair (usually the underside of the seat).  Actually on a chair like this it doesn't really matter where you start since the sections are not overlapping each other.  If I started on the seat or the back I would take off the gimp (or trim) first, then remove the tacks holding the fabric.


Note:  Be sure to take LOTS of pictures to help you remember how to put things back together again, and how to layer the pieces of fabric to get a nice, clean finish... 



...and the subtle folds that shape the fabric smoothly around corners and curves.


Horse hair stuffing -- a sign of quality
Step 3 -- Carefully remove the fabric (you may want to keep the pieces to use as patterns to cut your new fabric, although if you do, make sure add a little extra around the edges so the piece isn't too small and difficult to staple).  You can also keep the original stuffing (if it's not smelly or rotten) and use it again, with a fresh layer of Dacron (upholsterer's batting) on top.

Again, take lots of pictures of how things are put together
Step 4 -- If your chair has springs, make sure and take many detailed pictures of how the springs are tied.  This is very important for stability and strength in the seat.


Then remove the springs (and store them carefully so they don't get bent), and your chair should be...  Just a wooden frame!


Step 5 -- Repair any structural issues.  My chair was a little wobbly at the arms, both where they attached to the back and at the seat.  I used wood glue (I've heard Gorilla Wood Glue is great for this, I personally have not had good results Elmer's Wood Glue) and squirted it in the joints (being sure to wipe up any drips!), tied the arms together as a "clamp" to hold the arms where they should be while the glue dried.  I had to keep checking back as the glue dried because there always seemed to be a new drip somewhere.  Wipe them all up before they dry or else they will be a major pain to try and remove...  Not that I would know that from experience or anything... !

P.S. Wood glue soaks through newspaper... put down some plastic!
Keep checking back for part 2!


  1. I have 2 chairs out in my garage that I thought I'd just rip the old fabric off and slap on some new muslin and make slipcovers for but the ripping off part turned out a little more difficult than I expected. I'm definitely watching for part 2 and picking up a tack remover. Thanks for the tute. I need this one bad!

    p.s. Titebond is my first choice when it comes to wood glue, if that helps.

  2. I am in the midst of trying to do the same exact thing! My chair has been disassembled, wood has been stripped and now I've hit a wall with what to do next. Can't wait to see part 2 of this post!

  3. just started my first project like this too! boy did i wish someone warned me how much work it is!! That tack remover looks like a MUCH better tool than my mini screwdriver! LOL! Good luck to you cant wait to see the finished product!

  4. Great how-to!! you are so detailed. I actually just covered a scroll arm bench... cant wait to see the finished product! :) I am your new follower! you can check out my shenanigans over at

  5. I'm glad you went through the gluing part, I've never had to do that.

  6. I just bought a chair that I am thinking about redoing. Can't wait to see the rest of the tutorial. Thanks. Hugs, marty

  7. Oooh, can't wait for part 2. I've got a chair in my garage that I want to recover and I've have no idea how to do it!

    ~ The Speckled Dog

  8. Thank you all for the great comments! I love to see all the restoration/refinishing projects everyone is doing. I'll be checking out your chairs, too!

  9. i can't wait to see what becomes of it! i wish i could do uphosltery.

  10. I am nervous reading this... I have never been brave enough to try reupholstering. Thanks for linking up this project with Theme Party Thursday! I can't wait to hear the rest of the story...

  11. I found my way here through DIY Show Off and have been looking around. So glad I found this. I've done some reupholstery in the past and it's always a big job, but I enjoyed the tutorial enough to maybe tackle another project. I'm confused by your reference to the wood glue, however. There appears to be a word or some punctuation missing, as I can't tell if you used Gorilla Glue or Elmer's Wood Glue. Your post reads: I used wood glue (I've heard Gorilla Wood Glue is great for this, I personally have not had good results Elmer's Wood Glue).... Can you clarify? Thanks!!

  12. Oh, thanks for asking for clarification and I apologize for any confusion. I have used Elmer's wood glue in the past for other projects and it has not held up well. I've read on other blogs that Gorilla wood glue is good. I actually used Darice brand (found at my local craft store) since I was trying to find Gorilla but wasn't able to get it.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  13. ti seguo con molto piacere sei molto brava complimenti per quelo che fai buona serata lili


I love to read your comments, thank you for taking the time to visit my little corner of the world!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...