Home DIY Tools and Tips for Upholstery

Tools and Tips for Upholstery


Feeling creative? Want to start a new hobby? Why not give upholstery a go? Upholstery is a way to explore your artistic side in combination with your “handyman” skills, whilst also saving yourself some money in the process.

Sounds good? Here’s a guide to get you started…

What Is Upholstery?

Upholstery refers to adding things like padding, fabric, or leather, as well as springs and webbing to furniture. Usually, chairs and sofas are the most popular items to upholster.

Technically, you’ll see upholstery everywhere, from your own home to places like restaurants. It can also refer to seat covering in vehicles like cars and boats.

The Tools You’ll Need

Essential tools and accessories involved in upholstery include things like needles, staples, pins, nails, plus the tools to apply them with such as hammers, etc. Many upholstery specialist stores will sell a beginner kit with some essentials to get you started, so try purchasing one of those if you don’t want to purchase everything separately.

Here’s a list of tools you’ll need and what you’ll use them for…

Magnetic Hammer

An ordinary hammer can do the trick, but spending a bit more on a magnetic hammer can make tasks much easier.

The magnet will allow you to attach nails before hammering them in, meaning you can have a free hand, instead of having to hold the nail steady with one hand and have the hammer in the other.

It’s also useful as it will reduce the likelihood of dropping nails all over the place – and risk accidentally stepping on them later.

Staple Gun

Astaple gun is used to attach fabric covers onto the wooden frame of the furniture. There are various types of staple gun that you can buy, from light handheld to pneumatic heavy duty. The type you will need may vary depending on the upholstery job you are performing.

It may be an idea to start out with upholstery by using a cheaper, lightweight staple gun. Once you know that you actually enjoy upholstery and want to continue the hobby long term, you can buy yourself a better, more expensive one and start moving onto bigger projects too.

Either way, make sure you use caution with these kinds of tools. It may be wise to invest in some safety gear, perhaps some gloves and protective eyewear at the very least.

Tack Claw

Tack claws are handy for removing old tacks safely without causing damage to the surrounding area. Mistakes and readjustments are bound to happen for any project, so a good tack claw is an essential item for corrections too.

Upholstery Nails

Nails used in upholstery can be decorative as well as functional. You can have simple, small, dome shaped brass nails that come in colours like gold and bronze, but you can also have intricate, patterned designs, such as nails that look like butterflies.

Upholstery specialists will stock a range of different types of nails to choose from, so you’ll be able to find the colour and shape that matches with the overall look of the furniture you’re working on.

A sample board of nails, featuring a collection of different types may be available to purchase from an upholstery retailer. This will be great if you’re trying to decide or figure out what nail design is best to use for your project.

Nails can also be used in other areas of interior design, perhaps if you’re creating a frame or need to hang something up.


Along with staples and nails, you’ll also need some needles of varying types to help with certain tasks like stitching together fabric covering.

Some fabrics are tougher, thicker and heavier than others, so suitable tools like bigger needles and heavy duty fabric scissors will be needed for those, whilst thinner materials will need a lighter touch. Using the wrong tool for the wrong job will either be ineffective or damaging.

There are also curved needles which will make some trickier jobs easier, giving you the ability to carry on stitching areas where a straight needle wouldn’t reach or be too awkward to use.

What Can You Upholster?

Perhaps you’ve got an old sofa or chair that’s seen better days? Upholstery usually revolves around furniture but if you’re just starting out, you can try something simple instead, such as creating a new cushion. Once you’re feeling more confident, you can then move onto longer, more complex projects.

Start Your New Hobby Today

With these tools and an idea for your first project, all you’ll need is some time and perhaps a little bit of patience until you become an expert. So don’t wait any longer, dive into the world of upholstery today.


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