When I’m out scouring for diamonds in the rough, one of the first things I do is take a look under the hood, or seat in this case. Coil springs are to chairs as horsepower is to engines, and while you could make it to work in a golf cart, wouldn’t you rather arrive in a Ferrari?
This month on Upholstery Basics, we’ll be completing lap one of our coil spring Grand Prix. Over the next three lessons, we’ll accumulate the tips and tricks needed to rejuvenate coil seats and transform them from lumpy to comfy. Put on your goggles, and let’s tackle some coil-spring tying! — Amanda
See the full how-to after the jump . . .
- staple remover
- air compressor and air hose
- 1/2” long staples
- jute webbing
- webbing stretcher
- ten 12 oz. upholstery tacks
- magnetic tack hammer
- Klinch-It tool and fasteners
- button needle and button twine (can be substituted for Klinch-It)
- spring twine
Don’t forget to check out Upholstery Basics: Tool Time to learn more about the tools we’re using today.
1. Make sure your chair is stripped to the frame and all fabric, padding, staples and tacks are removed. While you’re taking your piece apart, put your coil springs aside for later. It may also be useful to take notes on how the coil springs were arranged in the seat.
2. Turn your chair upside down and plan out where and how many webbing strips you can fit on the bottom of your seat without overlapping. The more strips you have, the stronger the seat will be.
3. Staple the webbing to the middle of one side of the chair, leaving a few extra inches beyond the staples. Do your best to attach the webbing to the middle of the frame where the wood is strongest.
4. Fold over the excess webbing and staple again.
5. Bring the webbing past the frame on the opposite side and around the teeth of the webbing stretcher. The rubber part of the webbing stretcher should be resting against the frame with the handle angled up at about 30 degrees.
6. Once you have the webbing and stretcher in the right position, slowly bring the handle down until the webbing is taut and staple. The webbing should be tight enough to barely flex when you push on it.
7. Cut the webbing off of the roll, fold over the excess and staple again.
8. Repeat these steps until you’ve stapled all of your vertical strips. Then do an alternating basket-weave as you attach the horizontal strips.
9. Reinforce the webbing by putting three upholstery tacks in every strip with a magnetic tack hammer. The magnetic side taps the tack in place, and the other side hammers it down.
10. Decide how to lay out your springs. The springs should be evenly spaced around the seat for maximum support, and placing them in rows and columns will make spring tying easier.
11. Look at the end of the spring. If it’s bent, place that side up, and orient the springs so the end is in the same position on every one.
12. Once you’ve decided where to place the springs, attach them to the webbing with a Klinch-It tool or use a button needle and button twine to tie them to the webbing. If you are using a Klinch-It, refer to the instruction manual for how to operate your tool. Every spring should be attached in three areas.
13. Place two tacks, half-way in, at the end of every vertical and horizontal row of springs.
14. Now we’ll attach spring twine to the tacks at the back and left sides of the chair. Measure a piece of twine that is twice the length of the row plus 15 inches. Fold the spring twine in half, and place the middle in between a pair of tacks. Then loop the twine around each tack.
15. Pull the twine tightly around the tacks and hammer down all the way. Repeat this for the rest of the tacks at the back and left sides of the chair.
The goal with spring tying is to shape the seat and connect all the springs together so they move as one unit. As you’re learning how to tie springs, you may find you’ll need to retie the springs several times to get them in the appropriate position and tight enough so they don’t feel bouncy when you sit on them. Don’t worry — practice makes perfect, and you’ll soon be tying springs in your sleep.
16. With the first strand of spring twine on every row, start with a knot on the second rung from the top. This helps create the domed shape we’re looking for on a tight seat. Starting with the back spring on the middle vertical row, pull the first strand of spring twine under the second rung and tie a single knot around it as you hold it tightly in position.
17. Move on to the other side of the same spring, and tie a knot around the top rung.
18. Continue tying a single knot on the top of both sides of each spring. When you reach the last side of the last spring, drop down to the second rung again.
19. Once all the springs are tied together in that row, wrap the spring twine around the closest tack, pull out any slack and hammer down. Staple down the loose end of the spring twine for extra security.
20. For the second strand in each row, repeat these steps but remain on the top rung all the way across.
21. Repeat steps 16 through 20 until all of the vertical rows are tied. Then tie the horizontal rows.
22. Repeat steps 13 through 20 for diagonal rows that go across all springs in both directions. When you’re finished, there should be a slight curved shape to your seat, and none of your springs should move independently.
I think I’ll stop for now before our engines overheat. Meet me back here next month as we pad our seat and get ready for fabric.