|Antiques Digest||Browse Auctions||Appraisal||Antiques And Arts News||Home|
Brief History Of Upholstery
Tools And Workshop Requirements
Types And Styles Of Frames
Springs And Spring Units
Measuring, Cutting, And Preparing Covers
Basic Principles Of
Types Of Stitched Edges And Fronts
Making An Easy Chair With Cushion Seat
Second Stuffing-Calico Covers
Cable Springing And Latex Cushions
Occasional Chair-Cable Sprung
A Bedroom Chair
Modern Tensile-Sprung Easy-Chair
Adaptable Settee Unit
( Originally Published 1961 )
The frames of upholstered furniture are, as the name implies, the skeleton upon which the stuffing or padding is built. These frames are made of metal and of timber, the great majority of them from timber.
I suppose the first frame-maker was the cabinet-maker or chair-maker for as already explained the first sign of more comfortable seating was the addition of a cushion to the completed chair or settee. As it developed to the stage of all-over stuffing a quite separate craft of framemaking began to emerge and indeed to day it is a trade that is fully occupied.
Modern metal frames can be made from tubular or pressed steel, the joints being welded or riveted. Wooden inserts are added wherever tacking is required. Although these frames are strong and durable they are also heavy, and if the riveting begins to work loose or there is any weakness in the welding then it does mean an expensive repair. The complete chair or settee has to be stripped down and re-upholstered after the frame repair has been effected. Far more adaptable are the timber frames which also allow greater scope for any alteration in the finished style either when first made or at a later stage when repairs are being carried out.
The, timber frames are usually made from birch, beech or oak and also from other hardwoods. Nearly all frames are assembled by dowelling the joints, the main foundation rails using four dowels at each joint and where there are lesser strains and stresses, two or three dowels will suffice.
Factors such as the width or thickness of rails and what they have to carry guide the frame-maker to turn out a dependable job. Frames that show part of the wood as a decoration (called 'show-wood furniture') call for a degree of accuracy and skill comparable to a cabinetmaker's; particularly if it is a set of dining-chairs for instance.
A frame is more or less the shape of the finished upholstery, but a basic design can serve for several shapes by fixing extra shaped pieces of timber.
The ultimate aim of upholstery is to give more comfort, but of course if the frame-maker doesn't take into consideration things like the length of the seat in relation to the height of the arms and angle of the back, the finished piece may fall short of the comfort aimed at.
Frames that are to have spring units in place of webbing and coiled springs usually require fewer `tacking rails'. These are the lighter rails above the stouter foundation timbers that are used for tacking canvases and covers, etc., to. The arm rail is also a little lower. Cornerstrengthening blocks are advisable on all types of frames. These are triangular shapes glued and screwed at the angle of the main rails.
Settees with `drop ends' are now obsolete and their place is taken by the modern bed-settee and studio couch. Although the bed-settee with the drop end was useful it was never popular with the upholsterer. It was most `fiddling' to achieve a nice smooth job and except for the occasional visitor when they provided a bed, they had no other virtue. The best of the modern bed-settees are really first-class frame jobs, but of course do have various patented metal-made actions for converting from a settee to a bed. They also are first-class upholstery jobs.
The edges of frames that are to receive tacks should be rasped with a `wood rasp' to round off the sharpness. The advantages of this will be seen as we proceed. A good frame-maker will be able to translate approximate dimensions of a desired style and proportion to your required finish.