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4. Bench- Upholstering as an Option


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If your bench top is really ruined, or if it is broken, you can reupholster it. Glue and repair it if it is broken, then go to an upholstering shop. Buy a piece of material which is at least 12 inches bigger than the bench dimensions in both directions, and buy a 2 to 3 inch piece of medium hard foam that is about a half inch larger than the bench top in both directions. While you are there, ask the man to show you how to tuck a corner. Also, stop by the hardware store and buy some black carpet tacks.

Turn the bench over on the floor, top down, and draw a line around the top where the sides of the bench come against the top. This will be your guide to be sure you don't upholster between the bench frame and the top and cause problems keeping the lid from sitting level.

With the bench top removed, lay the upholstering material on the floor, backing up. Lay the foam on the material and center it. Then lay the bench top on the foam, with the top down on the foam and the legs removed of course. Pull one end of the upholstering material up and over the end of the bench in the middle. Tack it down. The tacks should be on the under side of the bench top, which is now bottom side up toward you. The tacks should be about a half inch from the edge so that they don't get into the bench box later.

Now go to the other end. Locate the same exact point opposite the other end, and pull the material somewhat tight and up over that end. Tack it down with one tack. Finish tacking the ends working toward the corners and back and forth from end to end, stretching as you go (stretch the material, not YOU!). Do not stretch the material so that you get a zig zag effect. Try to be even in your progress. Leave about four inches in all directions from the corners so that you can do the tuck at the end.

After you have the ends done, do the long sides, starting in the center again and alternating from side to side. Do not stretch hard with the first tack you put in along the side, or you will have a warped look when you are done. Stretch the first tack just a tittle.

Lastly, after all sides are tacked down, try to make corners as the man at the upholstery shop showed you. Once you are satisfied with the results, tack the material down at the corners. Pull it good and tight. If you know how to make a hidden stitch, you could do this also to close the corners more, but this is not necessary. Trim the excess of material back to about an inch from the tacks, and replace the top on the bench.

If you want a little more class, tack some kind of ruffle or edging along the edge of the bench top. I don't like this because it is just something to get messed up in use, but your decor may benefit from this. This kind of bench is very comfortable, and it disguises a damaged bench top. The same can be done to a damaged round top stool, but it reduces any collector's value. It is also a pain to do a nice job of the tucking. If you aren't running a museum, I highly recommend that you reupholster all benches which do not look nice anymore.

This would be a great time to strip and refinish the bench legs and box, reset the bottom board which is trying to fall out, and replace any faulty hardware from our Bench Hardware in the Online Catalog.

  On to task 5.