Skip to: main navigation | main content | sitemap | accessibility page


Let's get started! Your essential upholstery supplies

The moment has arrived! No more just looking at that chair – wishing it wasn’t so tatty. You’re going to bring it back to its former glory. Maybe you’ve picked up something vintage and beautiful that’s just crying out for a fabulous makeover. This is an exciting time, when you can picture the finished item and imagine it taking pride of place in your home. You can practise saying smugly, “Thank you so much. I did the upholstery myself.” Once you have your project and fabric, you need the all-important tools and basic upholstery supplies, which is where we come in. Good tools will last and make your work easier, so it’s worth investing in the right items. 

It’s quite incredible how a new fabric can transform a piece of furniture. Over the coming months, we’ll be bringing you some before and after images of projects to inspire you. 

Upholstery supplies you can’t do without!

We offer two upholstery tool kits, the basic and the superior.  The basic one will cover all your needs and the superior one includes some additional useful items. You can choose a container for your tools, from a basic plastic work box to something more decorative.  We have a selection of four containers, essential for all your upholstery tools and other items:

The Essential Upholstery Kit:

The Standard Upholstery Kit:

Either of these will make a great present to yourself or someone else. All you need to decide is which tool kit and which container is right for you.

What tools you need and why

Magnetic Hammer

This will become your best friend.  There are several types: the most popular is the two-headed hammer with a magnetic head at one end and a larger head at the other end for hammering.  All upholstery tacks are made of steel, which stick to the magnetized (smaller) end. This is really useful; it’s a bit like having an extra hand, holding the tack for the initial hit, to position it where it is needed.  So, you ‘load’ the magnetized end of the hammer with the required tack, then with a sharp ‘tap’ you start the tack where you want it.  Then you turn the hammer to complete the ‘driving in’ of the tack with the larger head of the hammer. Easy peasy!

Ripping Chisel & Mallet

A ripping chisel is satisfying to say and to use. Together with the mallet, you use it to strip back to the frame of aged upholstery, removing all obstructions for the new work.  It is very important that you don’t use a metal head to strike them as the handles will crack or break. The mallet is wooden, made of beech and it can also be used to tap frames lightly apart or together but it must not be used for driving in nails or tacks.

Slot and Peg Webbing Stretcher

A webbing stretcher stretches hessian webbing to the necessary tension and holds it whilst you tack it down.  The webbing is fed through the hole and the peg holds it while it is under strain.  With most of the furniture you work on, you will want to make it as comfortable as possible and that always involves webbing of one kind or another.

Tack Lifter

This is a tool with a cleft in the end to help remove tacks in wood.  The notched end is placed under the head of the tack and then with a twist and some gentle persuasion you will be able to lift the tack from its seat.  


Regulators come in several lengths.  They are like a long, thick needles with a pointed end to insert into the Calico over the stuffing to even the stuffing out. The other end is flat, to help form neat pleats and corners in your work. 


CURVED needles can be used for several difficult jobs that cannot be attempted with a straight needle.  You can sew a piece of material from just the one side, as their clever design means that the point will come back out of the material very close to where you put it in. A curved needle is measured by its length around the curve and is available from 2” (5 cm) to 6” (15 cm).

An UPHOLSTERER’s needle can be used for sewing through stuffing or layers of material and for buttoning.  They come in sizes 6” (15cm) to 18” (40cm) long, can have two pointed ends, one pointed end or a bayonet end.  A bayonet tip is used when a cutting edge on the needle is required.  Double pointed needles are used with twine to form a stitched edge. 

Watch out – the needles and the regulator are very sharp. Keep their pointed end safely in a piece of cork or in the holes of some corrugated cardboard.


Skewers are available in two lengths: 7.5cm (3”) and 10cm (4”). They are used for holding fabric in place prior to be tacked down or sewn. 


Our kit comes with one pair of shears but ideally you should have two pairs: a general pair and a pair just for cutting fabric. 

Tape Measure

Guesstimates don’t work in upholstery! A tape measure is essential

Whilst it’s perfectly possible to teach yourself using a book or the internet, if you are a novice upholsterer you will really benefit from joining a class. Learning in a group helps you learn from others’ questions and challenges and a teacher will make sure that your finished project is not a let-down – both literally and emotionally!

Don’t be put off: upholstery skills are simple enough to master and once you’ve learnt the techniques correctly, you will achieve wonders!

Share this article