The adventures continue…I feel like I should be saying, “Captain’s log: Day 3,569. Today the crew and I…”
With the chair repaired (still so excited I was able to make that repair) and the exposed wood painted, its about getting the foundation and structure back to the actual chair part. The last thing you want is to have a guest sit down in your creation and have them fall right through. And it has happened in some commercially made chairs I have owned, though the guilty will remain nameless.
Which brings me to a quick point I have come to realize more and more as I go through this process. Commercial and craftsman are two very different things. Commercial is made to be mass produced and as inexpensively as possible with parts that are known for their obsolescence. Frankly, they are not the antiques that last for 100s of years, rather if you can get them to last 5 to 10 years you are lucky. Sadly, many are priced as if they are made to last a lifetime.
Craftsman, which is what I am learning, doesn’t cut corners or compromise the integrity of the chair. For example, many commercial chairs are made with a metal flexible type spring called no sags. These are awesome and save time from traditional springs that have to be tied down every which a way. However, commercial just leaves them. So when your son climbs into the chair and presses his knee into it, the no sag can break because only one is taking all of his weight.
Craftsman ties the no sags together with sturdy twine and an upholsterer’s knot. Then they secure the no sags and twine to a burlap base that is stapled and sewn together. This creates a foundation that now bears all the weight and the weight is evenly distributed. In the end, no busted springs. In fact that is the start of my foundation adventure of upholstery.
Twine and No Sags
The adventure continued with a trip to Disneyland…in my head…equipped with Mickey Mouse ears and a song similar to Its a Small World After All. You know, the song that gets stuck in your head and you start singing three days later and having dreams about? Yep, just like that.
The first trick I learned was to make sure you know how to put your tack in. Tacks actually have a little leader edge that helps control the way the tack goes in when hitting it at an angle. This allows you to hit the tack in really difficult and tight areas.
To secure the no sags, you first create places to secure the twine. This is accomplished by tacking in two tacks, with the grain, nailed in about 1/2 inch apart and angled from each other. That way you don’t split the grain of the wood. You do this so you have about 6 secure points between the springs and the twine and on each side. Six on one side and six in the same spots on the other.
Next, you create some Mickey ears on the tacks to secure the twine (hammer tacks in to hold) and begin tying the twine to the springs/no sags with the upholsterer’s knot.
Repeat after me: Over, Under, Around Through. Again. Again. Again. and for good measure about 32 plus more times depending on the project. Yes you do really start dreaming about it. One lady in our class was even sleep talking and her husband woke her up saying, “You just keep repeating: Over, Under, Around and Through?”
This creates a surface tension area for your, well, booty. Measure from the largest point front to back and add four inches (two for the back and two for the front). Measure from the largest point side to side and add four inches (again, two for each side). Cut out your burlap and position it so it is centered with 2 inches all around. In fact, pretty safe to assume any fabric needs two inches on all sides. Tack it in place, pull taunt and secure with staples. Fold excess over and secure with staples again.
Hand Sewing Your Seat to Your Seat
So the piece moves as one the burlap has to be secured to the no sags. To do so, take one really super duper long piece of waxed thread and secure the burlap to the no sags every 1 1/2 spring. We used chalk to mark where these were and I must admit, that was a valuable time saving and mind saving help. When you are done sewing your burlap to the no sags, your seat is now secure and ready for foundation to continue! Think webbing, and not spiders.
Its starting to become an almost chair! See you next post!