Renovating the upholstery of chairs, sofas, and settees, is a task which can be undertaken very satisfactorily by the home mechanic. It should be noted, however, that this section does not deal with the extensive repairs to the frame and upholstery, which are best left to a skilled craftsman.
Equipment. A hammer, screwdriver or old chisel, pincers, an upholsterer's needle, and an appliance for stretching the new webbing tightly, are all the tools required. The necessary materials are burlap and springs, if replacement is necessary, webbing, a ball of good twine, and a package of 1/2-inch tacks. If a regular upholsterer's needle cannot be procured, a packing needle, will do. Buy the very best quality webbing you can get, as the success of the work will largely depend upon its strength and durability. The twine should be real upholsterer's twine, and its life is lengthened if drawn across a lump of beeswax before use. The beeswax not only protects the twine from deterioration but discourages rust where the knots secure the springs.
For purposes of instruction, it is assumed that the article to be repaired is an ordinary settee, but the method of repair is applicable as well to easy chairs and other upholstered furniture.
Repairs. The first operation is the removal of the canvas or burlap cover on the underside. Turn the settee upside down, supporting the center of the seat on a chair. Pull out the tacks holding the burlap in place, and remove it completely. If it is still strong and undamaged, lay it aside to be used again; but if it is faulty, measure it carefully for replacement.
To remove tacks from burlap and webbing, hold an old screwdriver or old chisel against the head of the tack and give it one or two sharp blows with the hammer. Be careful to sweep up all the tacks later, as they are dangerous to the worker when kneeling at the settee during later stage's of the work.
The webbing, with the springs attached, is now exposed. Unless only one or two springs are to be repaired or replaced, it is advisable to replace the whole of the webbing. Release the tacks holding the webbing to the frame of the settee and cut loose the twine securing the springs. Take careful note of the method used by the upholsterer to tie the springs in place.
Next, turn the settee back to its normal position, release the top cover along the front of the settee and turn it back, complete with the stuffing. It will be necessary, of course, to first remove the covered studs, brass head nails, or. other ornamental fixing, together with any binding employed. Lay aside specimens of all these for -use when selecting replacement patterns.
The released springs should now be examined for wear and distortion. Take an old spring to the upholsterer's supply house when ordering new ones. It may be necessary to buy a size of spring different from the original to allow for the results of long compression of the remaining springs.
At this stage, it is best to examine the joints of the frame for any looseness or weakness. Ordinarily, the joints may be repaired with glue and screws. A point to remember here is that when regluing any joint, the old glue must first be completely removed or failure will result.
When the frame is satisfactory, cut a strip of new burlap or canvas about 5 or 6 inches wide and as long as the front of the frame. Double back about 1 inch of this and attach it firmly to the top member of the front frame with tacks. Tack loosely a length of twine close to the tacked edge of the strip of canvas, to act both as a guide and a support to the stuffing for the rolled edge (of the canvas). Take the old stuffing, if you are _going to reuse it, and beat it with a stick to loosen it and give an even texture; then form it into a roll by tucking it around the twine fastened at the edge. Turn back the canvas strip over the rolled stuffing and firmly fix it to the top member of the front frame.
Turn the settee bottom up to facilitate putting in new springs. Remember, also, to strengthen the old springs where necessary. The new springs should be secured exactly on the site of the old ones which they replace, and securely stitched. Note that in all good work the springs are not only strongly secured to the canvas underside of the top cover but are also tied to each other to prevent any chance of slipping. Examine all springs which are to remain and restich firmly wherever necessary.
The new webbing may now be fixed in place. Double back 1 to 2 inches of, the webbing, and secure it by three or four tacks to the site of the old cross strip. Attach the webbing first with two tacks through a single thickness, cut off about 2 inches beyond the width of the settee, and turn back and fasten the overhang with two or three more tacks.
Continue this process until all the cross strips are in place. Fix in place the lengthwise strips. Note that they are threaded alternately over and under the cross strips.
Use ornamental nails to secure the edge of the cover. When the canvas or burlap is fastened over the springs and webbing on the underside, the work is complete.
When repairing the springs in upholstered chairs, stitch them. You will usually find that an odd number of springs, most often five or seven, have been used originally. If you need extra furniture, it is worthwhile to buy the pieces secondhand and spend a few leisure hours putting them into good repair.