Changing a Chair Seat from Plywood to Upholstery,Tools to Make
Changing a Chair Seat from
Plywood to Upholstery
Add an Upholstered Seat to a Chair
Lately, I’ve had a new obsession with upholstering chair
seats. Any of the chair plans on DbSC are adaptable to
upholstered seats and some of the plans are already written
for upholstered seats. I’m going to share an easy way to add
an upholstered seat to a chair plan.
For this example, I’m using the Anna Chair plan and have tiedyed the fabric for the seat. If the chair plan calls for the
aprons to be located 1/4″ back from the outside face of the
legs, the aprons will have to be flush with the outside faces
of the legs on all sides.
Completely constructed chair minus the seat
Elasbelt and webbing pliers
3/8″ narrow crown upholstery staples
1 yard of burlap
1 yard of upholstery fabric
1 – 2′ x 2′ piece of 2″ upholstery foam
1 yard of upholstery batting
3 yards of decorative gimp to cover the staples in the
Cut the pieces of the Elasbelt for the seat. Secure the
Elasbelt to the back framing piece using upholstery staples.
Stretch the opposite end with the webbing pliers and secure in
place with staples. For a how-to video, click here.
Cover the Elasbelt with burlap securing in place with staples.
Cut the 2″ foam to fit. (Sometimes, if the foam I have on hand
is too thick, I have to get creative – see photo!) Cover the
foam with the upholstery batting, then cut the fabric to fit.
Secure the fabric in place with staples notching and cutting
as needed. I like to press a 1/2″ hem in the raw edges of the
fabric before I staple it to the frame. The fabric should be
tight and stretched over the foam. I normally have a helper
(Matt – lucky guy!) smooth the fabric over so I can staple it
Cover the staples with gimp trim and a glue gun or decorative
That’s it! It is super-easy to add an upholstered seat to a
chair plan, and hopefully this tutorial makes it that much
easier! Have any questions? Leave a comment below!
Tools to Make Any Upholstery
A Guide of Must-Have Tools for DIY
I create a lot of plans that require upholstery in some form
or another. Upholstery is something that is really easy to do,
especially if you have the right tools and by “right tools”, I
don’t mean something crazy expensive, either. I’ve created a
guide of must-have tools for DIY upholstery that make it easy
to do and produce very professional results! I’ve created
links to the products I use (I am not affiliated in any way
with any of these companies) from my favorite upholstery
supply store to make shopping for these tools easier.
A Pneumatic Upholstery Stapler
I’ve always used a regular heavy-duty stapler for upholstery
applications – until I discovered this pneumatic upholstery
stapler. This bad boy shoots 22 gauge staples, which is
perfect for upholstery projects (unless you have to remove
them) and is very easy to use. It does require the use of a
compressor and a small 1 gallon compressor will be fine – they
can be found very inexpensively! Also, this stapler does not
have a safety like a brad nailer does. I found out the hard
A standard screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver will be your
best friend when removing old upholstery and parts. Any set
Elasbelt and Webbing Pliers
Though I am relatively new to Elasbelt, I am crazy in love
with it and will share a chair project using it later.
Elasbelt is heavy-duty elastic that is used as the seat or
back of the chair in place of springs. The webbing pliers are
used to stretch the Elasbelt before it is stapled to the seat
frame. The Elasbelt comes in two different types – one type
for the seat and one type for the back. This makes chairs much
more comfortable on the backside without having to mess with
A tack strip is a narrow strip of cardboard that helps keep a
straight line when nailing fabric to the frame. I use it to
create a firm edge with my fabric, especially if it is a type
that unravels easily. I fold the fabric over the strip then
secure the strip in place with staples, mainly on the
underside of the frame.
Though not pictured, duct tape will be your best friend
especially when building the furniture frame. Covering the
sharp edges of a wood furniture frame with duct tape will
soften them and keep them from wearing through the fabric.
Ply-Grip and Regulator Tool
Ply-Grip is something that is also fairly new to me and I love
it! It is a metal strip with teeth (very dangerous looking!)
that is stapled along an edge. The fabric is tucked into the
Ply-Grip with a regulator tool, then the Ply-Grip is tapped
with a hammer to close the teeth clamping the fabric in place.
It is mainly used on the back of a chair or sofa and
eliminates hand sewing.
Foam and Dacron
The foam is an obvious choice but not a lot of people know
what Dacron is… Dacron is a polyester batting that is used to
wrap the foam before the fabric is applied. It helps create a
smooth edge and professional results! I use Dacron in pillow
forms as well. I purchase my foam and Dacron on eBay. As a
side note, I have also successfully used foam mattress toppers
to pad arms and frames of furniture before upholstering. A
mattress topper is a very economical choice.
In the future, I’d like to be able to share upholstery
projects and how-to instruction, so I thought I’d start with
the guide of must-have tools for DIY upholstery. I will also
demonstrate the use of some of the tools in this post (except
for the screwdrivers – I’m sure you’ve got that covered!) I
hope this helps and if there are any questions, please leave a