gpeters (gpeters) wrote,

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reupholstering a piano bench

I don't really know how to sew, only sails and upholstery.

But this past week I had a great chance to use what little I do know how to do. I have heard, through the grapevine, that Santa is giving our family a very nice Casio electronic piano for Christmas. It's 88 key, and on a stand that puts it at the same height as a normal grand or upright (although it's lower than an older upright).

I finally managed to get this bench for a grand total of around $60, including tools purchased for the job.

So I thought; let's get ourselves an antique piano bench. It'll look quite nice and anachronistic next to a digital piano, and provide music storage, something those modern benches don't always do. Our dining room table is mahogany, and the hutch built into our wall is very darkly stained. So I scoured craigslist, and emailed everyone who had offered a "free piano" in the past few days, offering them $25 for their bench. Before long I found a mahogany piano bench at that price.

I wish I had the before photo... This bench was HIDEOUS. It had a coarsely woven floral print, covered in dust and that kind of oil cigarettes create. I think the upholstery had been put on the bench in the 1960s. When I removed the ugly floral print, I found an ugly paisley that had just been covered. Under the ugly paisley was an ugly gold fabric. Under that, some kind of natural fabric batting that I had never seen before.

So, to do this job, I took the bench cover, and went to a fabric store. I told them I wanted to re-upholster it, and they instructed me and were helpful. I left the store with a yard of 1" firm foam, a yard of soft fluffy polyester batting, and over a yard of the red synthetic suede fabric you see in that photograph.

On the way home from work, I bought a staple gun, and a supply of 1/4" and 3/8" staples that fit that gun. When I got home, I got out an assortment of pliers and flat head screwdrivers, and removed all of the nails holding the old upholstery on (on the underside of the bench). Interestingly, the grade of metal was noticably poorer for the inner layers. I think the outermost layer of upholstery was about 40 years old, and the innermost was 90 years old, and the innermost nails were awfully iron looking things, the outermost ones had the blue sheen of steel.

Anyway, after getting everything off, I cut the foam to exactly fit the bench top. I cut the batting to overlap to the bottom side by 2 1/2". I cut the corners of the batting to avoid a double layer anywhere. I then stapled the batting with 1/4" staples in maybe eight places, just to hold it there. Just a bit of tension on it.

I cut the fabric to allow 5" of overlap. I pulled it tight around the bench, and stapled it in the middle of all the sides, then moved out towards the corners. At the corners, I copied what I had seen in the layers I removed for folding, and held the corners in with the 3/8" staples.

The result is the bench you see above! It's easy to re-upholster. And, like any job worth doing, it's an opportunity to buy a new tool.
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