Introduction: Upholster a Queen Anne Style Stool
Don't sit on it!
I had a job that I was putting off for years. It was a reproduction Queen Anne stool which was obviously in need of repair. The webbing was ripped, which made the seat concave and only the cover was preventing an embarrassing fall through. This project took me about 4 days, working a few hours in the evening while watching television. I sourced materials from a shop that sells remnants from factories etc. Total cost was around £20 because I had some materials left over from previous projects, but it wouldn't cost much more if you have basic tools.
I hope you enjoy the instructable! Please feel free to comment. Thanks!
This is nearly the half way point to the project. I wanted to show what was involved on the first page. The project is about getting to this point and then replacing new for old to finish the job.
Step 1: Tools
Here are the tools I used in this project.
Wire Snips (large)
Hammer (doesn't have to have a white end, only if you stir paint with it)
Cut Tacks 15mm (5/8")
Rotary Tool + fibre cutting disc + grinding disc + Safety Eyeware (I was so lucky I was wearing them)
Heavy Duty 8mm staples
This is a diagram of the tacking/stapling technique I used often in this project. It might be a good idea to refer back to this later when tacking or stapling is being attempted.
Step 2: Materials
The Materials I used were:
First Image -Purple velour
Second Image -Canvas
Third Image -Fibre Wrap
Fourth Image -Webbing (actually it was length of lifting strap that could handle 1600kg)
I reused one material, the sacking layer, because I thought it was not load bearing. See image later.
You'll get the first three items from a shop that sells off cuts and clothes making materials. The minimum size you can usually buy is 1metre x 2metres (1yard x 2yards) but you'll have loads left over for various other projects you might tackle. Canvas is very handy for making all sorts of bags: eg gym bags, kick/punch bags, are just a few ideas.
Step 3: Remove the Old Cover
The first thing to do is to take everything off the frame. First is the old cover. I reasoned that the cover was so old and tattered it didn't matter what I did to it, so in order to see the old tacks I quickly removed the cover, leaving the tacks in place, using the rotary tool's cutting disc. That took 5 minutes maximum and gave me better access to the old tacks.
This is the underside of the seat frame. It's covered in rusty old tacks. Oh joy that looks like fun to remove.
Step 4: Remove the Old Canvas Layer
I turn the seat frame up on its side to look at the canvas layer that was under the cover. The canvas layer is no problem to remove as it's literally falling off!
Hello! That looks like animal hair. Could it be horse?
I pull off the canvas layer and notice the black hair is attached to the sacking underneath by a thin string.
Step 5: Remove the Black Hair Layer
I decide that I'll use my rotary tool cutting disc to quickly slice through the string attaching the hair to the sacking layer.
Unfortunately, the disc shatters and a loose piece of string wraps round the rotating end of the tool creating an instant strimmer! I was so glad that I had safety eyeware on. That could have been nasty.
I've changed the tool to use a stronger fibre disc, which I prefer for safety reasons obviously. What are those breakable discs good for anyway? The rubbish bin maybe?
Step 6: Remove the Sacking Layer
Again another easy step as the sacking layer is literally falling off!
We're at last down to the webbing that's attached to the seat frame.
Step 7: Removing the Old Tacks
By far the most laborious step was the removal of the old tacks.
I used a large wire snip which proved very effective at removing the tacks that didn't snap in two. If a tack head came away leaving a nasty sharp I removed this with the rotating tool's fibre disk. There were only about a dozen tacks that snapped.
Tricky little customer. There were many that came out very easily and then others were unfortunately loosing their heads!
Next: on with the new materials at last!
Step 8: Add the New Webbing
I had to be careful to miss the bodies of old tacks that I tried to, but couldn't remove.
I folded the webbing over in the same manner as the original work and tacked it in place with 3-5 tacks. I stretched the webbing slightly before tacking. The sharp knife proved the only tool that could cut the webbing safely and quickly.
I crossed the webbing over and under as was the original method.
Next I had to make a decision about the sacking layer.
Step 9: Adding the Sacking Layer
As mentioned in the intro I felt the sacking layer was ok to go back on because it wasn't weight bearing, even though it was 75 years old! I guess it was used to stop the black hair falling through the webbing when you sat on the seat. There was no real use for the sacking layer because the fibre wrap stuffing would not fall through the webbing but I put it back anyway.
Sacking tacked on.
Next was the padding of the seat frame using fibre wrap.
Step 10: Pad the Seat
I like quick steps. Fold the fibre wrap to quadruple thickness and trim off the excess.
Next is a bit more tricky. Canvas layer to compress the padding to the right shape.
Step 11: Canvas Over the Top of the Padding
From a piece of my canvas, I'm cutting off roughly at first then exactly the shape of the old canvas layer. I want the new canvas to be exactly the same size as the old one.
Not sure if I recommend this technique at all.
What I'm doing is holding the canvas in place, stretched, while balancing a tack in between two fingers. I then lightly tap the tack with the hammer so it grips the wood, move my fingers out the way and hammer the tack home. Maybe I was lucky or sufficiently skilled but I never hit my fingers once and I put in about 60 tacks this way. How else could I have done this? I'm sure the professionals wouldn't do it this way.
The canvas layer is all tacked down ready for the purple velour covering.
Step 12: Cover the Seat Frame
As I have indicated in the photo I've used the old canvas layer as a template again (I could have used the seat frame too) and cut a similar shape but 25mm (1in) bigger than the template. Note that I've rounded the corners.
This is not as challenging as the canvas layer because you are not fighting against the springiness of the fibre wrap and so it's relatively easy to do. The only difference to technique here is I tacked one side and went to the opposite side and tacked there. I tacked all four sides in the middle before I started to work towards the corners, making sure that the cover material was sitting flat as I was hammering each tack in. It's the same opposite technique you would use when tightening the nuts on a car wheel for example.
This shows how I tacked the corners. I pinched the fabric together and folded a flap over the pinch and tacked that down.
Great, we're done covering the stool. Not quite, I don't like to see any evidence, so I'm going to put a canvas cover over the webbing to hide the underside.
Step 13: Canvas the Underside
I'm using the covered seat frame as a template. Again I could have easily just used the old canvas layer but I want to show off the new seat cover!
I want the underside canvas to be a similar shape to the seat frame but about 12mm (1/2in) bigger so I can tuck the excess under as I work.
You'll have noticed that I'm using the staple gun now. I've got a few reasons for this. Firstly this is not a weight bearing layer just cosmetic, and secondly using staples will mean that the seat frame sits more flat in its leg frame. Note that I've decided to work from the corners in here and stapled opposite corners as usual before stapling the middle of each side, also stapled alternating the sides. Please refer back to the tack/staple technique diagram in the first step, if I've not explained this well enough.
The underside is stapled in. I'm going to back track here because I realised that my first corner staples will have to be removed due to bad planning - because I didn't make sure that they were invisible inside the leg frame. See the next image to understand this.
How the underside looks when the seat frame is in place. All we need to do is turn the stool the right way up.
Step 14: The Finished Covered Stool
First Image and Second Image
Views of the finished work
Manufacturers identification. It says by appointment to the King. Wylie & Lochhead Ltd. 45 Buchanan St. Glasgow. I have enjoyed upholstering this beautiful piece of furniture, and I hope you've enjoyed this instructable. Thanks for looking!
7 years ago on Introduction
Thank you. Very helpful!
12 years ago on Introduction
Very nice. I question the use of a rotary tool on something like this. Yeah, I am also trying to find more than one use for my oscillating cutter too. A simple utility knife would have cut through all the fabric. A small cat's paw or similar tack/nail pulling tool would be the proper tool to dig out the tacks and a good pair of pliers.
Reply 12 years ago on Introduction
Thanks for your kind praise!
I thought people might have been more worried about me using a hammer on my fingers than the rotary cutter on the old cover material!
I'm like you. I'm always looking for a new use for the rotary tool. The more I use it the more skilled I become. Yes, I agree with you a utility knife would do the job well: I've used them for years making small wood carvings, so I'm more confident using blades than the rotary tool.
And, I agree that the cat's paw and pliers is a great choice. I've used those tools very successfully in the past.
Thanks for sharing your opinion!
Reply 12 years ago on Introduction
Ha, you learn that after nailing the tiny little brads into the hardboard used for backs of IKEA cabinets that you should just use a staple gun. Cool carving with the ball in the box and chain. I'm guessing you carved that from one long piece of wood without having to join the links?
Reply 12 years ago on Introduction
Hey that's a good tip thanks! It's too tempting to use what IKEA gives us.
Glad you like the classic. You guess right about the balls and chain, really enjoyed the bit where every part gets freedom to move :)