Beginners Guide to My TOP 10 Upholstery Tools

If you're just starting out with upholstery, there are several essential tools that you will want to start collecting or have access to. I always suggest to shop your own garage first, because many of the items on this list you might already have on hand.

Here are my TOP 10 upholstery tools - what they are used for and what to look for when buying them.

  1. Upholstery Staple Gun: This is a crucial tool for any upholstery project. It's used to secure fabric and batting to the furniture frame. A pneumatic staple gun is highly recommended because it's more efficient and easier to use than a manual one.

  2. Upholstery Scissors: Upholstery scissors are specifically forged and designed to cut through thick fabrics like vinyl, leather, and canvas. A pair of high quality Upholstery Shears can cost between $40-$100 but can last a lifetime if properly maintained. 

  3. Drill & Driver Set: A drill and driver isn't necessary for most upholstery projects, but will come in handy for any screws that are holding one part to another. You will run into screws with most fining chairs, benches, footstools anything with a removable seat. They will also be used for repairing or tightening loose parts on furniture frames. 
  4. Staple Remover: Half of upholstery is removing the old fabric and layers. Having a high quality staple remover will make the process much easier. This tool is used to remove staples holding the layers to the furniture frame, but also for undoing areas that need adjustments.

  5. Tack Puller: A tack puller is used to remove tacks or decorative nail head easily without damaging the surrounding wood.

  6. Pliers: I suggest have a few different types of pliers on hand. A Slip Joint Plier, Long Nose Plier and my favorite a Dual Action Switchgrip Plier. They are all used during the Tear Down process.
  7. Tack Hammer: A tack hammer is a specialized upholstery tool that has a unique profile. Two slim steel heads with one end that is magnetic. It's used for many traditional upholstery techniques where tacks are used instead of staples, as well as used for setting decorative nail heads.

  8. Rubber Mallet: A rubber mallet is useful for tapping and pounding plyg rip and tack strip into place without damaging the fabric or furniture frame. In a pinch, it can also be used for setting decorative nail heads. Getting one made with white rubber (instead of black) minimizes the chances of any transfer marks damaging the fabric.

  9. Cutting Tools: You'll need a variety of cutting tools, including a rotary cutter, utility knife, and bread knife or even better a Turkey cutter. These tools are essential for cutting fabric, batting's and thick upholstery foam.

  10. Upholstery Thread & Hand Needles: Upholstery thread is thicker and stronger than regular sewing thread. It's designed to withstand the stress of upholstery work and is available in different colors. Most sewing machines will accept thicker threads as long as the upper and lower thread weights match and proper needles are used. There are several types of upholstery needles, but the most common ones are straight needles, curved needles and long tufting needles. 
    These are just a few of the most popular upholstery tools to start with. As you gain more experience, you may find that adding additional tools will help you save time and complete more complex projects.


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