Furniture Makeover · Projects

Bench Part 2: Refinishing+Sewing

Hi guys!  Here is Bench project PART 2! Here I will be preparing the frame for upholstery by refinishing the wood, as well as preparing the fabric for upholstery.   I broke up this bench project because even though it is not that big of a piece of furniture, there are a lot of parts to it and a lot of pics!!!   If you missed my FABRIC REMOVAL post click HERE! Once my fabric had been removed from the beat up upholstered bench, I moved on to refinishing the wood.

REFINISHING THE WOOD- 

  1. sand 
  2. vacuum with dust nozzle and use tack cloth
  3.  apply pre-conditioner to prep for stain
  4. apply stain within 3 hours of applying the pre-conditioner
  5. apply 3 or more coats of waterlox but “swool” in between coats( my slang for lightly lightly sanding with steel wool in between coats..ha), vacuum and dust between ‘swooling’ and  final coat with waterlox! I sanded down the entire frame and noticed that the wood was walnut.  Walnut is a hard wood that has a tight grain.  I did not need to fill the grain. WOOHOO! I vacuumed with a dust nozzle and used a tack cloth after sanding.  I pre-conditioned to open the grain for the staining process.  Within 3 hours of pre-conditioning the wood,  I stained.  It sat overnight and then I applied the waterlox the next day.  3 coats of waterlox went on.  In between those 3 coats,  I lightly “swooled” and dusted.  Check out the whole sanding and refinishing process.  I have special sanding forms that is a must for sanding those tight spots and grooves on a piece of furniture.  You can just wrap the sandpaper around the forms and you won’t miss a spot to be sanded.  The one form has a rounded edge and the other has a boxed edge both used for the different types of grooves you see pictured here.    Look at the captions for a specific description.

     

    Refinishing with waterlox gives an amazing finish.  It feels smooth and reminds me of furniture I have bought at a furniture store.    If you don’t know anything about waterlox, you have to try it! A lot of polyurethanes leave a gritty feel if it is not done in a dust-free environment or if not done correctly. This really is smooth especially if you lightly ‘swool’ (steel wool) in between coats and it is so easy!   It goes on very thin with a rag which is the reason it needs multiple coats but you will love the results.  I do!!!!

    The leg of the piece was pretty beat up from the start.  It was a challenge but a great learning experience for me and I am sure for any woodworkers out there.  There was a large chunk missing that was still very large even after the sanding process.  Check out these pictures below:

    We were able to fix that large chunk WITHOUT USING WOODFILL!  When I show people the leg now, it is hard to even find where the damage is.  Please check out that tutorial HERE if you are interested!

FABRIC PREPARATION-

  1. PATTERN LAY OUT- Lay out all the old fabric pieces(now used as patterns) on top of your new fabric! This project needed 4 yards of fabric.   I found the best configuration so I could maximize how much fabric was left over.  Also, when laying out the fabric it is important to lay the old fabric in the same direction of the grain as the new fabric.  Some of the pattern pieces had a selvage edge on one side, so I laid it out the same way on the new fabric’s selvage edge. (Selvage (or selvedge) is the edge of the fabric that is bound from the factory.  When you buy fabric that is on a roll, most of the time your selvage will be on the left and right of the roll).  The direction of the new fabric should be consistent throughout the project as well as consistent with the direction of the old pattern pieces.  You wouldn’t want stripes going down vertically on your back support to suddenly switch to horizontal on your seat.   
  2. PIN- pin the old fabric to the new fabric.  I Made sure any creases and folds from the pattern pieces got pulled flat before pinning so you have an exact replica of the pattern.
  3. CUT- cut your fabric around your pinned pattern pieces.

    stop fray with spray adhesive
    stop fray with a spray adhesive

    I had a serious fraying problem with this fabric. I should have checked that before I cut into it with regular scissors.  I used pinking shears to cut all of my new fabric pieces, but the pinking shears did not fix the problem at all!!!   It continued to fray so I did one extra step after all my new fabric pieces were cut.   I used a spray glue and sprayed 1/2 inch of the edge of each fabric piece with a spray adhesive.  Check how I fixed my fraying problem HERE!!!

    Once my fraying problem was fixed with a glued edge, I had about 10 pieces of my new fabric.  I did not label the new fabric pieces but I did pin it back to the original pattern pieces.  I did not want to mix anything up.  

  4. SEW- pin and sew any seams.

    I looked at how the two pattern pieces had been sewn and I sewed my new fabric pieces together for the back support.  I don’t have an upholstery sewing machine which makes using upholstery thread in my regular machine a nightmare.  Years ago, I re-upholstered another piece of furniture where I tried the upholstery thread……NEVER AGAIN!  I could not get my tension correct.  I deduced that upholstery thread was for upholstery machines only………hmmm.., or probably user error…but let’s go with the former. ha:)  In either case, I have always used all purpose thread which worked fine with my upholstery material.  Once I sewed, I ironed the seam open on the wrong side. 

     I also cut notches in the curve of the seam so it did not bunch up in the corners.    The seam of the fabric will go around the back support cushion of the bench.  There is just enough room for a support cushion to go between the 2 sewn pieces of fabric.  I knew it would be pulled very tight and I did not want the seam to break apart.  I decided to strengthen the seam so there is no chance it will ever break!  I used a hem or binding tape.  Unfortunately because the 2 sewn pieces are tight together with a curve, there was no way to get that through my sewing machine.  I hand sewed the hem tape to the wrong side of the seam where I ironed.

    I did this very close on either side of the original seam.  When I finished, I pulled tight to make sure that seam wouldn’t budge.  NO WAY! It’s not going anywhere! This is a great way to really strengthen a seam.  In order for that machine-made seam to break, the 2 other hand sewn seams on either side of it would have to break first.  There are other machine sewing seams(ie:french seam) that strengthen the seam as you go, however, I haven’t explored all of my sewing feet yet:)  That’s another post!  And….this is really STRONG!!

    After cutting, sewing and strengthening that seam, the sewn back support fabric is now ready to be applied to the back support cushion.  The new pieces of fabric are all cut and ready to go for stapling.  Come back for bench Project: PART3 which will consist of stapling and applying the fabric to the frame.  Oh… definitely my favorite part when it all gets put back together!  

    NOTE: All projects are different!  This tutorial is a detailed explanation on how THIS BENCH was re-upholstered.

    UPDATE: Check out PART3 of my re-upholstered bench project:

    re-upholstered bench diy: stapling and done!!
    Bench PART3: Stapling+DONE!

    You may also like:

DIY Re-upholster: Fabric Removal part 1
Bench part 1: Fabric Removal
Furniture Refinishing tricks
A stainable Fix Without Woodfill
fixing a fraying problem with household spray adhesives
Pray It Doesn’t Fray

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