Upholsterers use a number of tools that are highly specialized and unique to the trade. In this post we’d like to share with you a few of our favorite tools that we use on a daily basis.
First, Max, the love of our lives … our favorite pneumatic staple gun. What makes Max so special to us is not only the fact he is our best performing staple gun, he is also one of only three guns of this model being used in the U.S. right now. He is a prototype from the Japanese based Max Corporation that we are helping test in our studio. Sure we have other guns, but the Max is quieter, has less kick and more consistent stapling with less jams the all the others.
One of the other three Max guns is being used at a commercial upholstery studio in Tennessee and the third just arrived brand-spanking-new to Spruce last week. That’s right, we have Max’s brother, so now we have two! Our favorite Max rep, Alex, who regularly stops by to give him check-ups, brought us a second prototype to test. We are very thankful, as we really needed another gun.
Another great tool Alex, our Max rep, brought us is the Steel Flex air hose. This light-weight hose doesn’t get tangled up like the other fatter hoses (those of you who regularly use compressed air will know what we are taking about – a major pain in the workshop). I misheard Alex when he brought us this hose and thought he said “eel” instead of “steel” so this shiny blue baby is now affectionately called “The Eel” around the shop.
A more low tech tool Amanda and Lizzie made for the shop that is used everyday is our custom welt cord stick. This ruler measures the perfect strip of fabric that will have an exact 1/2″ seam allowance once the welt cord is sewn in. Sewing welt cord to fabric is an exact science and the correct seam allowance is needed to make cushions look just right.
As any seamstress would know, seam allowance is a very important factor when sewing and our mini seam allowance ruler is something our favorite seamstress, Lizzie, can’t live without. Also, we have all fallen in love with our new fancy new seam ripper – this will tear stuff up!
We also use some items that are common in households, or restaurants, like our electric knife. Some use this kitchen tool for slicing bread or meat, which is why we all call it “The Turkey Cutter” in the shop. However, we don’t use this baby for food. This thing cuts through foam like a warm knife through butter!
When it comes to wood refinishing one of our go-to items is the red sponge mounted sandpaper in a fine grit for smoothing out any unevenness or scratches in wood before staining or paining. Think of it as Microdermabrasion for wood!
After a little sanding, the best way to bring life and color back into old wood is definitely Restore-a-Finish. It comes in a variety of different wood colors so you can always find the perfect, natural match for your furniture.
Here you can see this magic product at work on the Cleopatra’s Love Seat
All wood furniture, we have found, could benefit from a rub down with Natchez before it leaves the shop. This all-natural product brings back shine and warmth to any wood piece. Older woods drink it up – like an upholsterer at beer-thirty!
The finishing touch before a piece leaves the workshop and goes up to the showroom for customer pick up is a compressed-air hose down. Things can get pretty dusty back in the shop and to make sure everything is in pristine condition when it leaves, we use this handy air hose attachment to clean off the fabric. It’s like reverse vacuuming!
These are by no means all the tools you need for upholstery, but just a few that I chose to geek out over because of our love for their unique purpose in our work lives. Thanks tools … see you tomorrow.