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Brief History Of Upholstery
Tools And Workshop Requirements
Types And Styles Of Frames
Springs And Spring Units
Stuffing Materials
Cover Materials
Measuring, Cutting, And Preparing Covers
Basic Principles Of
Types Of Stitched Edges And Fronts
Making An Easy Chair With Cushion Seat
The Arm
The Back
The Seat
Second Stuffing-Calico Covers
Pin-Cushion Seat-Stools
Dining-Chairs-Loose Seats
Cable Springing And Latex Cushions
Occasional Chair-Cable Sprung
A Bedroom Chair
Modern Tensile-Sprung Easy-Chair
Adaptable Settee Unit
Upholstery Repairs
Upholstery Terminology

Upholstery Webbing

( Originally Published 1961 )

The webbing stretched across the frame can take the weight of three and sometimes four persons on a settee or perhaps just one person on a dining-chair. But no matter how many it can be readily appreciated that if a skimpy or a poor job is made at this, the first stage, any further work is wasted, despite how well it may be done. Well then, a good-quality webbing is essential, particularly if one is webbing a large area like a settee or easy-chair.

Unless it is a non-sprung job the webbing is attached to the underside of the base rails. Turn the chair or settee upside down with the arms resting on the trestles, or if this is too high a working position, leave it on the floor. Many upholsterers prefer webbing a job in this position. After deciding how many webs and what spacing, the webs are tacked on to the front rail to start and strained towards the back rail, using the basic method as described in chapter 8, i.e. overlapped ends, holding five tacks and the strained end being held by four tacks with a further two to fasten down the inch overlap allowed when cutting. In the case of a settee, however, the long webs for the length of the settee are tacked first with the webs from back to front interlacing over and under. It is this interlacing that gives great strength and springiness. Because of the extra length, settees have a stretcher rail across the centre from back to front to strengthen the frame. The strain on the webbing is apportioned more evenly if the webbing is tacked down across these stretcher rails. This is done by doubling a strip of webbing longways and tacking it over the webbed seat acting as an extra strapping. In the case of a long settee with two stretcher rails this gives three separate areas that take the weight independently.

The method of using the web strainers will be used. In the case of the simple strainer the rebated edge is placed against the frame at an angle of about 30 degrees. The webbing is brought over the gripping part and held there with the palm of the hand and, using a downward pressure, it is stretched to the required tautness. The lever type allows the webbing to be looped over the metal lever and held against the frame by the rebated end, the pressure being applied in the same way. The webbing is looped through the slot in the last model and held in position by the piece of dowelling or rod and again stretched by a downwards pressure. Seats and backs that are not to be sprung are webbed on the face of the foundation rails upper face and inner respectively.

How tight to strain webbing comes surprisingly quickly and after a little practice the `feel' of the job is acquired. With a stout frame, a first tentative stretch is taken and then a fresh bite or pull on the webbing and a final stretch. It is at this point that the practice of testing the strain by allowing the hammer head to fall on to the web under pressure comes in, and by bounce and sound the experienced upholsterer can tell if it is stretched the correct amount. Nevertheless, when webbing diningchairs, stools and loose seats or occasional chairs where the frames are smaller and often more delicate, great care should be taken, for if the straining is overdone it will buckle the frame. With this type of frame it means a complete reassembly, gluing and cramping, to regain proper balance or perfect fit in the case of loose seats.

The webs for the back of a chair or settee need not be quite so tightly strained. The back doesn't take anything like the weight that seat areas take. Also the arms which are webbed on the inside need only have them from the top of the arm rail to the bottom tacking rail. It is not necessary to have webbing lengthways. Very little stretch is required here for it merely acts as a firm foundation on to which a canvas and stuffing is upholstered. It also is a place where a lesser-grade web could be used without any danger of sag. Any springing of arms is done on top of the arm rail. The practice of springing the inside has fallen away, which is a good thing for it served little purpose. Mention was made in the previous chapter of combination webbing, particularly on large areas. This is a method whereby two webs are placed side by side, a gap and then another two webs. This gives a bigger area for the usually large coil springs to stand and be sewn in. However, the evenly spaced method of webbing will usually meet all requirements and on balance is the best method.

When re-webbing a repair job it is essential that all the old tacks should be ripped out and any sharp ridges in the timber from this operation smoothed out with a rasp. Any friction caused by old tacks can help wear the webs.

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