UPHOLSTERY TOOLS

As with any skilled piece of work, there are tools that make the entire task that little bit easier to accomplish. In upholstery, there are essential and other tools that can be used on most items of furniture. The basics uses of the tools are relatively simple, having said that they can take many years to master. Repairing or creating upholstery requires skill, however, one must first acquire a rudimentary understanding of the tools and of furniture design and how it is made and assembled. The following are standard good practice when working on upholstery and furniture, guides that will help keep your upholstery in good condition for many years.

When working with tools, or items that have sharp edges, as is the case with upholstery, there are countless things such as staples, tacks, sharp tools and wood that can cause you physical harm. A first aid kit is therefore essential when committing to such work. If you sustain a cut when working with fabric, stop immediately, clean the wound and cover it with a plaster, no matter how tiny the cut is there is a chance it could bleed onto the fabric and stain it.

Round off sharp edges

When working with furniture frames the sides which face the inner sides of the skeleton are likely to have sharp edges. It is ideal when the covers are removed from the frame to take time to soften sharp edges, or round them off using emery cloth or a rasp. By doing this you will help prevent the covering fabric from damage such as cuts or nicks.

Measuring fabric

When measuring upholstery during furniture repair or creating a new piece, it can difficult to get the measurements rights for the covering fabric. The following detail will help with that process:

The width measurement: Ensure you measure the width of the fabric at its widest point, then add a few inches (2-3) on each side to allow for any unexpected folds or creases that may reduce its size when fitted.

The height measurement: Ensure you measure at the highest point of the fabric, then add a further four inches to the overall height.

Marking Fabric

It is of fundamental importance that great care has to be taken when marking fabric for cutting or other for further detailed work or purposes. Ink can be difficult to remove so you must take care what you use. If you accidentally apply a mark in the wrong area of the fabric you may well find it impossible to remove without causing damage to the fabric itself.

Never use felt tip markers to mark any type fabric. With fabric essentially being porous, the ink may well bleed through the material.

Never use an ink Pen for the same reason as above.

Carpenter's pencil or tailors chalk is useful on fabrics and material.

Cutting fabric

When laying out a piece of fabric to cut, always square up the ends of the material, using a square measure, it makes for easier and more accurate measuring.

Align and attach the fabric

Care must be taken to lay the piece of fabric being used to cover the furniture, over the frame and centre it. Ensure that each edge that not only reach but is sufficient in material length to overlap by about two inches. Once this has been done, the fabric can then be anchored to the frame.

Anchor The Fabric

With the fabric laid out in the desired position over the frame it can be stapled in place. Don't use too many staples in this process. It is highly recommended that one of the following application patterns be used when carrying out this task.

Cross: This is the most popular of all anchoring patterns. Mark the centre of all four sides of both the fabric and the furniture. Always start at the centre and attach the fabric of two opposite sides. Replicate this on the other two opposite sides of the frame/fabric. Continue to staple the fabric onto the frame in a cross pattern, pulling it out at each corner as you do so.

T pattern: For this you must staple across the top of the fabric, then begin to staple the centre of the bottom area forming a T shape with the stapling.

V pattern: First add a staple to top right hand side of the material, and then add another to the top left. Finally add a staple in the centre at the bottom of the fabric.

The curved IB principle: Start by centring the top and bottom of the material on the frame. Starting from the centre, pull the fabric snug and alternate between pulling it at the top and bottom. Always ensure that the horizontal weave of the fabric remains the same height on either side.

Forming channels: When creating channel backs, the top of the channel must be cut wider than the bottom so the pattern remains the same height on each channel across and around the back.

Vertical and Horizontal: Symmetry, on most pieces of furniture the right and left sides should be a direct reflection or mirror images of each other.

Basic Upholstery Tools

The following is the required minimum tools that will be necessary to competently complete a repair to or completely upholster a piece of furniture.

Hammer

Without doubt, the most used tool an upholsterer will use is the hammer. Bespoke upholstery hammers are made for this craft. There are three types of hammer that are regularly used:

(a) Ringed shaft upholsterers hammer: This is a well designed and altogether more balanced hammer for use in upholstery. It has a round ringed shaft, hence its name.

(b) Head of cabriole: The 'cabriole' has a small head and is used mainly on show wood furniture. It's shape allows tacking into wood to take place without causing bruising or damage to the surrounding wood. It can also be used for 'gimping', which is the final fixing of braid or gimp using gimp pins.

(c) Pear shaped handle or shaft. This has a hardened steel tipped driving face and square-cut steel head. The ringed shaft and the pear shaped hammers are both commonly referred to as tack hammers, whereas the head of cabriole has a more defined and specific use.

Cutting tools

Cutting tools consist of scissors and knives. It is an area where the upholsterer should always purchase or procure a high quality product. A good pair of scissors can be re-sharpened and provide a lifetime of service if well looked after. There are a number of designs and a variety of choices available to the upholsterer. The main two being the type that has a square end to one of its blades the second type has typically pointed ends to both its blades, these are more expensive in price but offer and ideal solution for cutting loose covers.

A sharp bladed knife is most useful for trimming off once the cover has been tacked into position, especially when tougher fabrics or hides and leather cloths require trimming. A craft knife represents a good option, if its blades are blunt, they can easily be changed and replaced with new ones. Whichever straight bladed knife is used, it is essential that is kept very sharp to prevent hacking cuts being made which can cause irreparable damage to the fabric.

Heavy-Duty Sharp Scissors: These will usually come with blades of 9 -10 inches, they are ideal for cutting fabric.

Other useful tools

Pliers: A standard set of pliers which come in sizes of 6" to 10"inches. They can help withdraw stubborn staples from the frame.

Ripping-out tools

A ripping chisel is used in conjunction with a wooden mallet to prepare a furniture frame for any sort of repair. The upholsterer will place the chisel end against the tack, giving it a couple of blows to dislodge and remove it. This action will always occur going with the grain of the wood. Should the upholsterer go against the grain of the wood then damage will occur, such as cracking or chipping of the woodwork.

Ripping Chisel: This tool is a useful aid when removing the old fabric from a frame, it does what it s name implies, rips into the material.

Essential yet basic tools

Screwdrivers: These are essential in piece of work. The most popular screw today is the cross head, the screwdriver to remove these is known as a Philips. In older items of furniture, straight slot screws were more commonly used, these require a straight slotted screwdriver for removal.

Needles and stitching tools

If any item can be regarded as a necessity in an upholsterers tool box then needles and stitching tools are high on the agenda. These consist of mattress or stitching needles which measure between 8 and 16 inches in length. The needles are different because they have double-pointed ends, and the eye is situated roughly an inch from the opposite end of the needle. Like most needles they are round and column like in shape.

One exception to this is the bayonet point needle that is triangular in shape for approximately two third of its length. This needle is stout by comparison to others, and it can be used a regulator (see below). It 's real purpose is its ability through design to stitch built-up stuffed edges.

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.

Curved Needles: If you intend to hand sew or stitch the fabric then you will require a 4 inch and a 6 inch curved needle to sew fabric joints together.

Button needle: These are made in sizes of 10 inches to 16 inches and help add buttons to stuffed fabric or furniture.

Regulator: A regulator is a tool that is used for trimming or regulating the stuffing content and moving it to the required area beneath its hessian or material covering. In form it has the appearance of an extra-thick needle, it has a point at one end, while the opposite end is flattened, this makes it more comfortable to use and helps with leverage against the palm of the hand during use. A further tool that is used for realigning or adjusting stuffing is known as the stuffing iron. Made of metal it has a fork-like end, it is more commonly used in America.

Seam ripper: A small tool, it is used for unpicking stitches.

Foam saw: Used to cut foam for stuffing or padding.

Tape measure: Ideally this will be of a size to keep in a pocket since it will be regularly called into use.

Wood clamps: Of all sizes and are used to prevent harsh marking of wood when it clamped or held together.

Upholstery tack hammer: In modern day upholstery the upholsterer will use an air pressured staple gun to quickly attach fabric to a frame, however, the inside frames of furniture can be tight, and such a tool will not achieve the job. A tack hammer is useful for getting into such tight, hard to reach spaces.

Health and personal safety is a fundamental basic necessity when committing to any type of work using tools. Safety glasses should be worn to protect the eyes, removing staples or tacks from wood can be dangerous

Web strainers

One of the greatest concerns to the amateur upholsterer is how to stretch the furniture webbing tight. The answer is by use of a web strainer or web stretcher. These tools come in two different forms, both essentially doing the same thing. Web stretchers are made of hardwood, and in their most simplistic form are a piece of wood. This has a premade groove at one end, this then fits over the edge of the frame that is about to be webbed. Once in place the webbing is brought over the top and beneath the grooved end. Holding it firmly, the webbing is strainer or stretcher is levered down until the required tautness of the webbing is achieved. A separate version of this comes from America, where it is more common in practice. The stretcher has several spikes at the levering end thus negating the need to pass the webbing beneath the grooved end. The downside to this is that the spikes when put under pressure, can damage and weaken the webbing.

The most popular type of web strainer has the slot in the main body of the wood along with a piece of dowelling is attached. With the strainer handle held in an upright position the webbing is fed double through the preformed slot in the wood in the form of a loop. The dowelling is placed through the loop to hold it in place, pressure is applied in the same down manner until the webbing is sufficiently tight. This is commonly known as the lever-type strainer. A further less complicated method of web stretching is achieved by passing the webbing over the lever and allowing it to hang, the leverage is taken up in the same manner, with the recessed end held tightly against the frame and downward pressure is then applied. Another purpose built stretcher that can be used are web or hide pincers. This have the same conventional pincer movement, though web or hide pincers have wide serrated jaws that can clamp hold of short ends of webbing or hides and pull on them to add strain.

Webbing pliers: These are used when stretching canvas or webbing that has been cut to size.

Needle nose pliers: Commonly used to pull fabric through small and tight fitting areas.

Duck bill pliers: These are useful and can be used for pulling fabric evenly or accessing and pulling it through tight spaces.

Hard Plastic Mallet: Ideal and strong enough to hammer into place tacking strips.

Rulers: As with a tape measure, a good quality straight edged ruler is essential for measuring.

Carpenter's framing square: This is used when squaring up and marking fabric prior to cutting.

Masking Tape: Can be used to identify different upholstery products and parts mark the name on the tape and fix it to the item.

Fine steel wool: For cleansing and distressing wood , it is not suitable for use on any fabric material.

Old English Scratch Cover Polish: Used for filling and covering over small or slight scratches and polishing the area.

Carpenter's yellow wood glue: Wood glue is an ideal bonding agent for wood.

A healthy assortment of nails and screws of all sizes

Button Molds: The general sizes of button molds is - 22, 30, 36, 45, 60.

Disinfectant spray: This can be useful for killing off insects that might be present inside older pieces of furniture and fabric.

Machinery required for the workshop includes a heavy duty sewing machine and a carding machine. The latter is used for `teasing' and cleaning various stuffing 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.

Sewing machine

Walking-foot sewing machine: Ideal for quilting. It feeds the layers of fabric and batting through the machine while quilting.

Power Tools

Not all are necessary, however, one of each tool is recommended so in most instances it is a case of either/or...

Upholstery air pressured staple gun

Upholstery quality electric stapler

Heavy duty electric stapler

Heavy duty hand stapler

Air Ripping Chisel

Air nozzle

Electric drill

Steamer : This can be used to steam the wrinkles or folds out of fabric. It can also shrink certain types of fabric to make it a tighter, more snug fit.

Skill saw

Jig saw: A variable speed model is require

Hot glue gun: Some fabrics can be glued into place so a hot glue gun offers a sensible alternative to stapling or tacking. This action is only recommended for small areas of fabric.

Vacuum cleaner: The obvious use of this to keep an area clean, especially the floor where the upholsterer will be, or is working. It prevents contamination of the fabric or material.

The ragtackers bag

Upholstery is all about skill precision and patience. The upholsterer will generally work alone, so it would be useful to have several pairs of hands, which he has not. Creativity is a must, so the experienced upholsterer will wear on his person on top of his apron, a purpose made bag made from material that consists a number of sections. These sections will hold different size tacks and the bag is therefore known as ragtackers bag. Tacks are taken from the bag as required and held as the upholsterer sees fit, before being held in place and tapped into place with the tacking hammer. In days gone by the tacks would be held in the mouth of the upholsterer, passed through to his lips and removed by hand and into position. Apprentices of the craft would first learn that all tacks had to be cleaned and sharpened. Amazingly there are no recorded instances of injury from this bygone method of handling tacks while tacking down!

Today, modern hammers are produced with magnetic heads that can hold a tack in place and allow it to be manoeuvred into position, thus rendering the unsafe and dangerous method of holding them in the mouth as obsolete. For any number of health and safety and common sense and practical reasons it is strongly recommended that tacks are not placed in the mouth for any reason. The safest and best option is to purchase a tacking hammer with a magnetic head.

As with any skilled piece of work, there are tools that make the entire task that little bit easier to accomplish. In upholstery, there are essential and other tools that can be used on most items of furniture. The basics uses of the tools are relatively simple, having said that they can take many years to master. Repairing or creating upholstery requires skill, however, one must first acquire a rudimentary understanding of the tools and of furniture design and how it is made and assembled. The following are standard good practice when working on upholstery and furniture, guides that will help keep your upholstery in good condition for many years.

When working with tools, or items that have sharp edges, as is the case with upholstery, there are countless things such as staples, tacks, sharp tools and wood that can cause you physical harm. A first aid kit is therefore essential when committing to such work. If you sustain a cut when working with fabric, stop immediately, clean the wound and cover it with a plaster, no matter how tiny the cut is there is a chance it could bleed onto the fabric and stain it.

Round off sharp edges

When working with furniture frames the sides which face the inner sides of the skeleton are likely to have sharp edges. It is ideal when the covers are removed from the frame to take time to soften sharp edges, or round them off using emery cloth or a rasp. By doing this you will help prevent the covering fabric from damage such as cuts or nicks.

Measuring fabric

When measuring upholstery during furniture repair or creating a new piece, it can difficult to get the measurements rights for the covering fabric. The following detail will help with that process:

The width measurement: Ensure you measure the width of the fabric at its widest point, then add a few inches (2-3) on each side to allow for any unexpected folds or creases that may reduce its size when fitted.

The height measurement: Ensure you measure at the highest point of the fabric, then add a further four inches to the overall height.

Marking Fabric

It is of fundamental importance that great care has to be taken when marking fabric for cutting or other for further detailed work or purposes. Ink can be difficult to remove so you must take care what you use. If you accidentally apply a mark in the wrong area of the fabric you may well find it impossible to remove without causing damage to the fabric itself.

Never use felt tip markers to mark any type fabric. With fabric essentially being porous, the ink may well bleed through the material.

Never use an ink Pen for the same reason as above.

Carpenter's pencil or tailors chalk is useful on fabrics and material.

Cutting fabric

When laying out a piece of fabric to cut, always square up the ends of the material, using a square measure, it makes for easier and more accurate measuring.

Align and attach the fabric

Care must be taken to lay the piece of fabric being used to cover the furniture, over the frame and centre it. Ensure that each edge that not only reach but is sufficient in material length to overlap by about two inches. Once this has been done, the fabric can then be anchored to the frame.

Anchor The Fabric

With the fabric laid out in the desired position over the frame it can be stapled in place. Don't use too many staples in this process. It is highly recommended that one of the following application patterns be used when carrying out this task.

Cross: This is the most popular of all anchoring patterns. Mark the centre of all four sides of both the fabric and the furniture. Always start at the centre and attach the fabric of two opposite sides. Replicate this on the other two opposite sides of the frame/fabric. Continue to staple the fabric onto the frame in a cross pattern, pulling it out at each corner as you do so.

T pattern: For this you must staple across the top of the fabric, then begin to staple the centre of the bottom area forming a T shape with the stapling.

V pattern: First add a staple to top right hand side of the material, and then add another to the top left. Finally add a staple in the centre at the bottom of the fabric.

The curved IB principle: Start by centring the top and bottom of the material on the frame. Starting from the centre, pull the fabric snug and alternate between pulling it at the top and bottom. Always ensure that the horizontal weave of the fabric remains the same height on either side.

Forming channels: When creating channel backs, the top of the channel must be cut wider than the bottom so the pattern remains the same height on each channel across and around the back.

Vertical and Horizontal: Symmetry, on most pieces of furniture the right and left sides should be a direct reflection or mirror images of each other.

Basic Upholstery Tools

The following is the required minimum tools that will be necessary to competently complete a repair to or completely upholster a piece of furniture.

Hammer

Without doubt, the most used tool an upholsterer will use is the hammer. Bespoke upholstery hammers are made for this craft. There are three types of hammer that are regularly used:

(a) Ringed shaft upholsterers hammer: This is a well designed and altogether more balanced hammer for use in upholstery. It has a round ringed shaft, hence its name.

(b) Head of cabriole: The 'cabriole' has a small head and is used mainly on show wood furniture. It's shape allows tacking into wood to take place without causing bruising or damage to the surrounding wood. It can also be used for 'gimping', which is the final fixing of braid or gimp using gimp pins.

(c) Pear shaped handle or shaft. This has a hardened steel tipped driving face and square-cut steel head. The ringed shaft and the pear shaped hammers are both commonly referred to as tack hammers, whereas the head of cabriole has a more defined and specific use.

Cutting tools

Cutting tools consist of scissors and knives. It is an area where the upholsterer should always purchase or procure a high quality product. A good pair of scissors can be re-sharpened and provide a lifetime of service if well looked after. There are a number of designs and a variety of choices available to the upholsterer. The main two being the type that has a square end to one of its blades the second type has typically pointed ends to both its blades, these are more expensive in price but offer and ideal solution for cutting loose covers.

A sharp bladed knife is most useful for trimming off once the cover has been tacked into position, especially when tougher fabrics or hides and leather cloths require trimming. A craft knife represents a good option, if its blades are blunt, they can easily be changed and replaced with new ones. Whichever straight bladed knife is used, it is essential that is kept very sharp to prevent hacking cuts being made which can cause irreparable damage to the fabric.

Heavy-Duty Sharp Scissors: These will usually come with blades of 9 -10 inches, they are ideal for cutting fabric.

Other useful tools

Pliers: A standard set of pliers which come in sizes of 6" to 10"inches. They can help withdraw stubborn staples from the frame.

Ripping-out tools

A ripping chisel is used in conjunction with a wooden mallet to prepare a furniture frame for any sort of repair. The upholsterer will place the chisel end against the tack, giving it a couple of blows to dislodge and remove it. This action will always occur going with the grain of the wood. Should the upholsterer go against the grain of the wood then damage will occur, such as cracking or chipping of the woodwork.

Ripping Chisel: This tool is a useful aid when removing the old fabric from a frame, it does what it s name implies, rips into the material.

Essential yet basic tools

Screwdrivers: These are essential in piece of work. The most popular screw today is the cross head, the screwdriver to remove these is known as a Philips. In older items of furniture, straight slot screws were more commonly used, these require a straight slotted screwdriver for removal.

Needles and stitching tools

If any item can be regarded as a necessity in an upholsterers tool box then needles and stitching tools are high on the agenda. These consist of mattress or stitching needles which measure between 8 and 16 inches in length. The needles are different because they have double-pointed ends, and the eye is situated roughly an inch from the opposite end of the needle. Like most needles they are round and column like in shape.

One exception to this is the bayonet point needle that is triangular in shape for approximately two third of its length. This needle is stout by comparison to others, and it can be used a regulator (see below). It 's real purpose is its ability through design to stitch built-up stuffed edges.

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.

Curved Needles: If you intend to hand sew or stitch the fabric then you will require a 4 inch and a 6 inch curved needle to sew fabric joints together.

Button needle: These are made in sizes of 10 inches to 16 inches and help add buttons to stuffed fabric or furniture.

Regulator: A regulator is a tool that is used for trimming or regulating the stuffing content and moving it to the required area beneath its hessian or material covering. In form it has the appearance of an extra-thick needle, it has a point at one end, while the opposite end is flattened, this makes it more comfortable to use and helps with leverage against the palm of the hand during use. A further tool that is used for realigning or adjusting stuffing is known as the stuffing iron. Made of metal it has a fork-like end, it is more commonly used in America.

Seam ripper: A small tool, it is used for unpicking stitches.

Foam saw: Used to cut foam for stuffing or padding.

Tape measure: Ideally this will be of a size to keep in a pocket since it will be regularly called into use.

Wood clamps: Of all sizes and are used to prevent harsh marking of wood when it clamped or held together.

Upholstery tack hammer: In modern day upholstery the upholsterer will use an air pressured staple gun to quickly attach fabric to a frame, however, the inside frames of furniture can be tight, and such a tool will not achieve the job. A tack hammer is useful for getting into such tight, hard to reach spaces.

Health and personal safety is a fundamental basic necessity when committing to any type of work using tools. Safety glasses should be worn to protect the eyes, removing staples or tacks from wood can be dangerous

Web strainers

One of the greatest concerns to the amateur upholsterer is how to stretch the furniture webbing tight. The answer is by use of a web strainer or web stretcher. These tools come in two different forms, both essentially doing the same thing. Web stretchers are made of hardwood, and in their most simplistic form are a piece of wood. This has a premade groove at one end, this then fits over the edge of the frame that is about to be webbed. Once in place the webbing is brought over the top and beneath the grooved end. Holding it firmly, the webbing is strainer or stretcher is levered down until the required tautness of the webbing is achieved. A separate version of this comes from America, where it is more common in practice. The stretcher has several spikes at the levering end thus negating the need to pass the webbing beneath the grooved end. The downside to this is that the spikes when put under pressure, can damage and weaken the webbing.

The most popular type of web strainer has the slot in the main body of the wood along with a piece of dowelling is attached. With the strainer handle held in an upright position the webbing is fed double through the preformed slot in the wood in the form of a loop. The dowelling is placed through the loop to hold it in place, pressure is applied in the same down manner until the webbing is sufficiently tight. This is commonly known as the lever-type strainer. A further less complicated method of web stretching is achieved by passing the webbing over the lever and allowing it to hang, the leverage is taken up in the same manner, with the recessed end held tightly against the frame and downward pressure is then applied. Another purpose built stretcher that can be used are web or hide pincers. This have the same conventional pincer movement, though web or hide pincers have wide serrated jaws that can clamp hold of short ends of webbing or hides and pull on them to add strain.

Webbing pliers: These are used when stretching canvas or webbing that has been cut to size.

Needle nose pliers: Commonly used to pull fabric through small and tight fitting areas.

Duck bill pliers: These are useful and can be used for pulling fabric evenly or accessing and pulling it through tight spaces.

Hard Plastic Mallet: Ideal and strong enough to hammer into place tacking strips.

Rulers: As with a tape measure, a good quality straight edged ruler is essential for measuring.

Carpenter's framing square: This is used when squaring up and marking fabric prior to cutting.

Masking Tape: Can be used to identify different upholstery products and parts mark the name on the tape and fix it to the item.

Fine steel wool: For cleansing and distressing wood , it is not suitable for use on any fabric material.

Old English Scratch Cover Polish: Used for filling and covering over small or slight scratches and polishing the area.

Carpenter's yellow wood glue: Wood glue is an ideal bonding agent for wood.

A healthy assortment of nails and screws of all sizes

Button Molds: The general sizes of button molds is - 22, 30, 36, 45, 60.

Disinfectant spray: This can be useful for killing off insects that might be present inside older pieces of furniture and fabric.

Machinery required for the workshop includes a heavy duty sewing machine and a carding machine. The latter is used for `teasing' and cleaning various stuffing 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.

Sewing machine

Walking-foot sewing machine: Ideal for quilting. It feeds the layers of fabric and batting through the machine while quilting.

Power Tools

Not all are necessary, however, one of each tool is recommended so in most instances it is a case of either/or...

Upholstery air pressured staple gun

Upholstery quality electric stapler

Heavy duty electric stapler

Heavy duty hand stapler

Air Ripping Chisel

Air nozzle

Electric drill

Steamer : This can be used to steam the wrinkles or folds out of fabric. It can also shrink certain types of fabric to make it a tighter, more snug fit.

Skill saw

Jig saw: A variable speed model is require

Hot glue gun: Some fabrics can be glued into place so a hot glue gun offers a sensible alternative to stapling or tacking. This action is only recommended for small areas of fabric.

Vacuum cleaner: The obvious use of this to keep an area clean, especially the floor where the upholsterer will be, or is working. It prevents contamination of the fabric or material.

The ragtackers bag

Upholstery is all about skill precision and patience. The upholsterer will generally work alone, so it would be useful to have several pairs of hands, which he has not. Creativity is a must, so the experienced upholsterer will wear on his person on top of his apron, a purpose made bag made from material that consists a number of sections. These sections will hold different size tacks and the bag is therefore known as ragtackers bag. Tacks are taken from the bag as required and held as the upholsterer sees fit, before being held in place and tapped into place with the tacking hammer. In days gone by the tacks would be held in the mouth of the upholsterer, passed through to his lips and removed by hand and into position. Apprentices of the craft would first learn that all tacks had to be cleaned and sharpened. Amazingly there are no recorded instances of injury from this bygone method of handling tacks while tacking down!

Today, modern hammers are produced with magnetic heads that can hold a tack in place and allow it to be manoeuvred into position, thus rendering the unsafe and dangerous method of holding them in the mouth as obsolete. For any number of health and safety and common sense and practical reasons it is strongly recommended that tacks are not placed in the mouth for any reason. The safest and best option is to purchase a tacking hammer with a magnetic head.