A Bit of Upholstery for a small paycheck

Project by MarkTheFiddler posted 06-16-2013 03:31 AM 5441 views 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My beloved wife has a beloved friend who can make best dang coconut merengue pie in this wide world. Well it’s the best I ever had. She also made us a banana cream pie. The two ladies made this little deal. We get pies and I pick up her chairs to upholster.

When I saw the chairs, my heart sank. I can upholster an entire sofa in the time it takes to do the easier of these chairs. I could have done 2 more couches in the time it took me to do the harder one. They are just that difficult to strip and require very slow exacting detail.

Then she handed me the fabric….. Drapery Fabric …… It’s like someone asking you to build a desk out of sheetrock. I was so completely set up by my wife and her sweet friend. There was no price high enough for me to do the chairs in drapery fabric. It just won’t turn out right – ever. That’s right – ever.

I let them run off and chat and wondered at my fate. Then I sucked it up and gave her an extremely low price. That way she wouldn’t complain when the inevitable upholstery issues showed. Plus – she made me pies. I couldn’t say to this sweet woman ’there is no way in h… that I would take the job’. It was a job exactly like this one that made me quit the business and go back to school.

Drapery fabric reacts to humidity and stretches in very unusual ways. If you put a staple through a spot, you better make durn sure it’s the right spot because you will get a run all the way across it. If you add trim that is made from the drapery fabric, you have to go old school and pull out the glue. Plus, the stuff is so thin, you couldn’t hide a trim staple to save your life.

So I said to myself, ‘make this lady happy’ and it changed my entire outlook on the whole job. I believe the man upstairs was giving me a nudge. I was a bit ashamed of myself to be quite honest. After a while I decided to give the chairs as much of the Cadillac treatment as I could.

I decided to make the chairs look as much alike as possible. As you can see they were not that alike and they were pretty scratched up.

I very tediously pulled out the old staples without scratching any of the wood then I sanded all the existing scratches and re-stained the wood. I put 3 coats of poly back on when I was done with that.

The wicker was pulling loose in a few spots so I re-glued and waited an extra day.

I fattened up the seat on the smaller chair and boxed it a little. In order to make the fabric fit well and prevent a bunch of runs, I had to spend an extra 2 hours tediously cutting and sewing cutouts for the legs. It never would have worked if I had done it the way it was initially designed.

This is a picture of the glue job on some trim ;)

I’m going to deliver the chairs on Monday and collect that little $175 paycheck and let her believe she is the most generous person on this Earth. However, if she offers me another coconut pie, I don’t think I will turn it down.

Next time – I hope I remember to be a bit more humble. I think I did well by her and the way I treated her. I don’t think It really counts unless you mean it. The good news is, I have a chance to finish off this exchange well. I just need to keep my heart in the right place. This time I’ll mean it when she get’s the chairs.

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

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4 comments so far

View GaryL's profile


206 posts in 3511 days

posted 06-16-2013 02:31 PM

Great job once again Mark!
I think this should qualify you for the ” Pie A Month ” club.
I have to back track and look and look at all the work you have been busy with. It been awhile since I’ve been on here or HR. Work has been crazy and cannot find help.
And Happy Fathers Day!!

-- The difference between a pro and an amateur, an amateur points out his mistakes

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


447 posts in 2947 days

posted 06-19-2013 12:43 PM

Thanks guys!

I delivered the chairs. She was thrilled to death. She made me feel great about the whole thing. We are going to get another batch of pies. Awesome!

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

View Becky's profile


81 posts in 3623 days

posted 06-20-2013 02:45 AM

Mmmm – pies :) Mark, I love reading your posts and seeing your pics :) My dad does re-upholstery now as a ‘retirement’ business (he’s not retired yet). He trained with a gentleman who was in the business pretty much his entire life until he retired and we were lucky enough to live down the street from. I love seeing a good piece of furniture get a new lease on life. Unfortunately I seem to be the one who keeps finding these pieces of furniture and my parents are the ones getting to keep them as portfolio builders :) Excellent work! ...and I’m sure the pies are awesome as well :)

-- aspiring jill of all trades

View GrandpaLen's profile


1 post in 2537 days

posted 08-02-2013 12:56 PM


...another ‘Critical Mass’ project well done!

You are a ‘can do’ type of guy and ‘can’t be done’ is the challange that Rocks your World.

...btw, I really like that upolstered Clamp Rack, may have to make one of those for the break room in my Shop. :-)

Best Regards. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len, just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

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