Adding upholstery to your wood work.

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Forum topic by MarkTheFiddler posted 06-04-2013 03:21 AM 1789 views 2 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2358 days

06-04-2013 03:21 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tip upholstery

Howdy Lumberjocks,

I recently saw an episode of woodsmithshop that involved a little upholstery and cushions. I think it’s a wonderful show. I just saw them make the exact same mistake that most wood workers make. Many if you have made the same mistakes because you are thinking like woodworkers.

Here is the common mistake. Padding is cut to precise dimensions for the finished product. That is a mistake.

When the fabric or cushion cover is wrapped around the padding, it swims. It’s loose and it shifts easily. I have seen masterpieces of wood working with upholstery that will look wadded up and rumpled after a few sittings all the time.

If I may be so bold, I’d like to offer a few simple tips to keep the cushions and upholstery looking crisp and tailored for years.

Seat cushions: foam is cut 1 inch thicker, wider and and deeper than the cover. That is for a cushion designed to seat one person. If it’s a double wide cushion you can add an extra half inch. Triple seat can use and extra inch on the width.

Dining room chairs: don’t bevel the foam unless it is super stiff cheap foam’ the foam will compress when you pull the fabric tight. The bevel will show up on its own.

Additional: if you wrap your cushions in bonded Dacron, use upholstery spray glue to attach it to the foam. This will prevent a bunch of gathering and shifting.

Best of luck my friends. I hope this post makes a difference to one of you.

By the way, if you have already stuffed you cushions, you can use the upholstery spray glue to glue an extra inch of foam to the front and sides. Add a layer of Dacron to top and bottom to fill out the thickness.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

7 replies so far

View J's profile


48 posts in 2316 days

#1 posted 06-04-2013 04:58 AM

Mark -¬†you were so kind as to offer me these tips (through the HomeRefurbers sister site) and the window seat cushions that I made turned out great. Thanks very much for sharing. You should add a link to your Youtube upholstery tutorials as well – I am geared towards visual learning and think some other LJ’s might find your videos clear up the mysteries of upholstery.

View GrandpaLen's profile


1651 posts in 2442 days

#2 posted 06-04-2013 02:51 PM


As an artisan who has mastered the softer side of furniture design, you have brought to LumberJocks a breath of ‘fresh air’ in the designs of your recent woodworking offerings.

Your ‘Refinished Trunk with upholstered insets’,, caught my eye and made me realize that there is an accent element the we as woodworkers should consider more often.

Your ‘Cocktail table for Martha’s Hideaway’,, design is a wooden version of the Quilt Block patterns my mother has quilted for decades.

Your current Coffee Table build could well be a Quilted design and I am looking forward to it’s posting upon completion.

You’ve brought a crossover perception to woodworking that is quite intriguing, for me at least.

I certainly hope the LJs here will take advantage of your knowledge of upholstering and add you as a ‘Go To’ for advise, as J did in the post above.

Best Regards. – Grandpa Len.

Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3817 days

#3 posted 06-04-2013 02:58 PM

I have found that taking a seat frame into the local
upholstery supply store, they offer great advice
on what foam and strapping to get and have a
giant band saw (knife actually) for cutting foam.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5781 posts in 2983 days

#4 posted 03-27-2014 01:16 AM

I took a class from a leather worker with 30 years of experience and compiled my thoughts here…
He had some great information, and I was able to complete my Morris chair cushions in a day and a half.
I admire good upholstery work just as I do quality woodworking.

Thanks for posting.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2262 days

#5 posted 03-27-2014 01:39 AM

I’m curious…. how difficult is it to add simple upholstery to a project. Say I want to put a cushion on a chair seat. I considered just getting some kind of fabric, stuffing some batting in it, and stapling the fabric to the underside of the seat.

Can it be that simple?

View neverenougftackle's profile


195 posts in 2016 days

#6 posted 03-28-2014 10:48 PM

Glad I read this, as I am about to re-due 6 dinning room chairs. The cushions have gone flat,,,Thank you, Mark.

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2358 days

#7 posted 03-30-2014 01:27 AM

Howdy! Thanks for the compliments. I’m glad my posts have helped someone!

Purrmaster, it really can be that simple!

For the seat, 2 inches of high density foam at a medium to above firmness will keep you tail end from feeling the wood underneath. Staple down about 3 inches at the center front and back. Work gradually to the corners. Leave about 3 inches to the corner loose. Work the sides the same as you did the front and back. Inspect your work often.

As you approach the corners you are pulling the fabric just a tighter than before. It will give a nice clean rounded appearance.

Last thought. Allow the foam to overlap the edges by 1/2 inch. You down want the foam to staple to the back side and cause bulk. Give it a go and post to this thread if you have questions.

I believe you’ll feel like a pro when you are done.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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