Hi There!!! Bench project PART3 involves assembling the bench and stapling the upholstery fabric to the panels and frame. If you missed this bench project: FABRIC REMOVAL post click HERE! If you missed this bench project: REFINISHING+SEWING post click HERE! Now that I refinished the wood on the bench, and the fabric pieces have been cut and sewn, we can move on to stapling and assembling!! woohoo.
Here are the tools I used for the project:
TOOLS: air compressor, drill, covered mallet(soft cloth), tacking strip, pneumatic stapler, pneumatic brad gun
NOTE: If you don’t have an air compressor: I would recommend my favorite manual stapler…the “Power Shot”. Also, the pneumatic brad nail gun is not necessary either. I think manually hammering in the brad nails may be better anyway. See #5 on my reasoning why manually nailing brads may be better.
STAPLING AND ASSEMBLING:
- Staple each appropriate piece of fabric to any cushioned plywood panels. This bench has 6 plywood panels that slide in to sides of the bench. I decided to start upholstering the panels first. To staple the fabric pieces, I started in the middle of each section of panel and worked my way out to the corners. To do the corners I did more of a twisting motion. This really minimizes the look of a bulky edge and corner when it is seen from the front. The pattern had notches cut at each corner as well to minimize bulkiness.
- Put sewn back support fabric over the back support cushion. I tightly pulled the fabric over the cushioned back support like one would if a slipcover was being pulled over a chair. This was on a much tighter scale though. The blue tape pictured below was applied over the seam on the wrong side to strengthen it to prevent breaking since it will be under a lot of tension. I described how I strengthened the seam in my REFINISHING+SEWING post. If you missed it click HERE. At this point the fabric has been put on the back support and is ready to go. The back support still has to be screwed into the bench but not until the seat gets stapled…..which is step 3.
- staple seat fabric down: The seat fabric was the first to be stapled down. For any of the panels to go back into the bench the fabric had to be in place on the seat. I put an entire row of staples in the back of the bench (where the back support will get screwed in) to stabilize the fabric leaving about 2 inches left un-stapled in the corners.
On the other sides I started in the centers and worked my way to the corners. I pulled very tight. I slid my hand from the back of the seat to the front while pulling the fabric with the palm of my other hand. Anytime I used my fingers to pull it tight, it created a little bit of puckering that I thought would be noticeable. If you stick with your palm you don’t tend to get that. Once I figured out the position that looked good, I kept it taut but changed the position of my hand so that I could put the staples in. If I used my whole hand width to hold it while stapling (instead of holding with my fingers) I didn’t get any puckering. Check out the captions below….pics explain it all! Click on the gallery to enlarge pics.
- Staple corners of the seat:
Luckily, the pattern was cut a certain way that helps eliminate a lot of the bulk. The fabric edges just got folded over in the front corners. Because I started stapling in the midsections and moved out to the corners, the extra fabric could be folded, tucked or minimized at the corners in some way. Not all corners are done the same for every project. The front corners of this bench project were even different than the back corners because the back support gets screwed in eliminating the need for a folded edge. I would suggest taking pictures when removing fabric at tricky corners to remember how it had been done before.
- Slide side panels into the frame and nail in with brad nails. Slide the panels into the frame. Make sure all of the brad nails have been removed from the original upholstery beforehand because you don’t want to risk snagging the new fabric.
Once the panels were in place, I switched out my stapler for the brad gun to nail them into place. The angle of the brad gun was a little tricky. I was worried that if I missed, the nail was going to come out the wrong way and scratch the perfect refinishing job that I had just done. Ed is more comfortable with the nail gun with his woodworking so I called him up for his assistance. Next time though I will use brad nails that get hammered in. Apparently, the brad nails for the pneumatic gun have a T shaped head which tend to create a more noticeable spot on your panel after being nailed. This is something I learned when doing this project. Plus, next time, I can take my time and have more control nailing it in manually. I felt like if I missed, in one shot, I could screw it all up. I love the pneumatic air stapler because I can still correct mistakes, but with the brad air gun in this situation, no.
Luckily the bottom of these outer panels had not been stapled in yet to the frame at the bottom. We were able to minimize these marks by pushing a yardstick between the panel and the outer fabric and lifting the fabric away from the tight nails. That did relieve the tension and most of the marks. I was happy with the outcome in the end. But look at the pneumatic air gun brad nail vs. the manual brad nail. They have quite a different head. The T-shape on the pneumatic may cause more pull and catch on the fabric resulting in a stronger mark than if I were to use the manual brad nails. The manual brad nails have a smooth head and may not catch as strong. This is a theory but you know what …..I will confirm it at some point on another project. We have yet to see!!!!:)
I finally finished the panels by stapling the bottom edges of the panels into the frame on the floor of the bench. Articulating this is difficult…just look at the pic:
- Drill the back support into the seat.
Once the panels were in, we could move onto screwing in the back support. I didn’t get the best pics because it actually took both of us……me leaning on the top of the back support and Ed screwing it in. We were trying to be careful not to scratch the refinishing job as well. Then I think I may have taken this pic hanging over the bench:) ha.
That white support fabric gets pulled down and stapled underneath the bench. This supports the upholstery fabric that will give the back a smooth and more rigid finish.
- Tacking strip in the back on each side. Tacking strip gives the finished rigid edge that you will want on either side in the back. The tacking strip was only about 12 inches long. By looking at the old one I cut the tacking strip the same length. I am never able to reuse the old tacking strip because it always gets destroyed when removing the fabric. I got a pack of strip from Joanne Fabrics. We slid the tacking strip in at the edge where the wrong side of the fabric goes over the nails at the edge. You want the nails to poke through the fabric. Make sure those darn frayed edges are cut back really well. I didn’t which ended up being difficult in the end. Once the tacking strip is facing up and poking through the fabric, we then rolled it over stretching the fabric along with it. The nails then end up facing the frame to be nailed down. We used a cloth covered mallet because inevitably we knew the rubber would make marks on that newly refinished wood. I know you see those pesky little fraying threads coming out of where I was hammering in the pic below!!!! We fixed it by using a razor blade to cut them out….but definitely an annoyance. Click on the gallery or pics to enlarge.
- Apply upholstery dust cover cloth (cambric). You know when you look at the bottom of a chair or couch, there is a black fibrous fabric that prevents you from being able to see the inside of your couch. That is your cambric or dust cover cloth. I found this at the SUPER Walmart. I just measured the area underneath the bench and cut my dust cover. I didn’t put too many staples in, I just added enough to cover the inside of the couch. I could have also applied the black dust cover to hide the top row of staples but I was worried that the black would be getting too close to the edge and may be seen from the front when the bench was down. It probably would have been fine but I just covered the coil area. The cambric finishes it off nicely.
ITS DONE!!!!!!! WOOHOO!!!!
LOOK FOR MY NEXT POST : The before/after pic, the cost breakdown, and how I decorated this bench/couch in my sun-room!
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