I ♥ reupholstery class: sanding and staining

I love reupholstery class – at least, I’m coming back around. I spent several weeks carrying this chair a mile back and forth between my apartment and class, so that I could get the sanding and staining done on the woodwork. That’s been quite the pain, and taken much longer than I expected, so I haven’t been unequivocally in love with the project for a few weeks!

Now I’m back on track, and I figured I’d show the work on the springs, and then the sanding and staining pictures.

imageThe springs are sewn with thick thread to the jute webbing, which is attached in a woven pattern. Looking at this from underneath, the second set of webbing should overlap in the center to be on top. That makes for a more stable foundation to attach the springs to.

imageThe webbing attached first with staples (that’s an  air pressurized staple gun I’m using!) at one end, then you use a stretcher to pull the webbing taut, and then staple the other end. Finally it’s secured with two nails at either side of the folded over webbing. I didn’t take a picture after that and the springs being sewn on, but I’ll do that for the next post.

imageThen the fun part! Actually it’s really confusing, and a little hard. But this is the part of the process where you both get to see exactly how much knowledge and work goes into upholstery, and the start of a real seat shape to the chair. The jute rope is tied to the springs in a very specific combination of different knots at different points, to stabilize the chair seat and prevent the springs from moving too much towards each other and potentially squeak. This also controls the height and shape of the seat. I feel like a rookie boy-scout learning these new-to-me knots!


imageWhat has taken up most of my time has actually been sanding and staining the woodwork on the chair. First I used a straight edge knife to shave off as much old lacquer and stain as possible. And there was a lot! There are a lot of nooks and crannies in the profiled woodwork, so I also used a chemical lacquer and paint-remover. I suspect it didn’t work optimally because of the old age of the varnish, or maybe the too-cold basement I was working in. Either way, I had to do several rounds of scraping, varnish-be-gone goo, more scraping, and goo, then a good sanding to get the wood prepared for staining.

imageThe goo covered in aluminum foil so it wouldn’t dry out while waiting for it to work.

chair_sanding_fullAnd this is what it looked like after all that varnish was removed! Before, and…..

chair_stain_full…after! I used an oil based stain. I considered a lacquer based stain, but I didn’t want a shiny and hard finish on the woodwork like a varnish would provide. The oil based stain and finishing oil can be applied with a rag instead of a brush, and I like that aspect of it. The oil brings out the woodwork beautifully too!


chair_stain_detailI used a brush to get all into the little crevices of the cut out profiles, trying really hard not to get dark brown stain on the parts I meant to keep natural wood-colored, since it would be hard to remove it again. It took a whole lot of work, very much so worth it now, and I’m so happy to be on the after-side of fixing up the wood!

2 thoughts on “I ♥ reupholstery class: sanding and staining”

    1. Thank you! Yes, it looks much better now – updated and uniform! The chair is solid, but was most definitely showing years of use, so it’s fun to make it look good again! I love learning practical handcrafts like these, so it is a treat – most of the time. ;)

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