Topics: furniture upholstery, furniture
Compared with other trades like cabinet-making, plumbing, etc., the upholstery trade requires few tools.
Perhaps the most important one is the upholsterer’s hammer. Upholstery hammers are specially made for this specific craft. There are three types, the favorite one being that with the round ringed shaft.
These consist of scissors and knives, the former should be about nine or ten inches in length and of good quality. A first-class pair of scissors will last an upholsterer all his working life. Here again we have a choice of design. One type has a square end finish to one of its blades and the other type has a pointed end to both blades. The last-mentioned are particularly useful when cutting loose covers and usually are a little dearer to buy. A knife is an essential tool for “trimming off” after the cover has been tacked on - particularly for hides and leather cloths.
These consist of an upholsterer’s ripping chisel and a wooden mallet and are used to prepare the frame for a repair. The chisel end is placed against the tack and given one or two blows to remove same; always with the grain of the wood, otherwise you may crack or chip the wood-work.
Upholsterers’ needles and stitching tools
These are essential requirements. They consist of mattress or stitching needles and are from 8 to 16 in. in length. They have double-pointed ends with an eye about an inch from one end and are round in section. An exception is the one that is shaped triangularly for about a third of its length. This is called a bayonet point.
A ‘packing’ or ’spring’ needle and a half-circular needle will complete the stitching tools, a further addition being three or four dozen steel skewers. These are used to hold hessian or covers in position until they are stitched.
Machinery required for the workshop includes a heavy-duty sewing machine and a carding machine. The latter is used for ‘teasing’ and cleaning various stuffings from repair jobs. A cushion-filling machine is needed if a large volume of this work is done. Factory machines usually include mattress-making machines and a loose-seat machine, a fairly recent innovation.
A linen tack bag with three or four sections is required to hold the different sizes of tacks, and an upholsterer’s apron which has a capacious front pocket. This pocket is invaluable to the ‘ragtacker’. Tacks are held in the mouth and it is quite a shock when one first sees a handful of tin tacks thrown into the mouth. They are brought to the lips by teeth and tongue and taken by the thumb and forefinger of the hammer hand, still holding the hammer. Experience has proved that this is the fastest and most suitable method. The advent of the hammer with the magnetic head prompted some to alter their technique by placing the hammer head to the lips and carrying the tack to the job direct.
There is a combination that is essential for each man in the workshop. This is a pair of trestles and a bench. The trestles are of the usual variety but with a beading round the top. This is to prevent pieces of furniture with castors fixed from moving off. The bench is usually about 4 ft. square and is placed on the trestle tops for doing loose seats or cutting out, etc. The old-type Gladstone bag was a favorite for carrying the tools in, and a hair cushion tacked upon the wall near the bench took care of the needles and regulator. A tape measure is often found draped around this cushion ready to hand when needed.
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