How to Repair an Antique Spring-Bottom Chair


Chairs that are crafted by woodworkers and other furniture manufacturers are designed to withstand years of use, but these works of art won’t be there forever. Both the pieces and the fasteners eventually wear out. Don’t give up hope if you have an antique spring-bottom chair with a sturdy frame but the chair sags or droops when you sit in it or if you can’t use it at all. There are ways to fix these problems. It’s possible that all that’s required is a new set of springs.

Anatomy of a Chair With Springs

The springs in chairs are not what you may expect them to be. Chair springs have a flat, snake-like look as opposed to the upright, springy coil that is often seen in other types of springs. They are secured to the chair in a manner similar to that of a belt, running horizontally across the bottom from side to side. On top of the springs is a layer of thick foam, and then another layer of a rigid, coarse batting material is put on top of it.

In order to keep the foam and batting with place, the sides of the chair are covered in upholstery fabric, which is then stretched and stapled. It may be possible to repair the chair’s springs without having to reupholster the chair if the fabric and batting are still in excellent condition but the chair has become uncomfortable sagging in the centre.

Removing the Springs

To get access to the springs, you must first invert the chair so that the frame is seen in its rectangular or square orientation. Each end of the spring is held in place on both sides of the frame by a clip made of metal. Depending on how old the chair is, the clips could be secured with screws, nails, or staples instead of their original placements.

There is a possibility that some of the springs are damaged, missing, or dangling. In any event, it is quite likely that the springs have lost their tension and will need to be replaced. To remove nails or staples, you should use diagonal pliers, but if the springs are held in place by screws, you should use a drill or driver. When removing the initial clip from either end of the springs, use extreme care if the springs are already under an excessive amount of strain. However, given their ages, this is quite improbable. Hold onto the spring with a gloved hand to keep it from moving while you remove the fasteners, since the stress on the spring might potentially force it to launch itself off the chair.

After that, take off all of the clamps and the springs. To get a replacement for one of the springs, you will need to visit an upholstery shop. It is OK if the replacements do not have the same precise appearance as the originals. The length of the spring is what is most crucial, and the business may trim them to the appropriate length for you if they are not. Invest in some brand new clips as well.

Replacing the Springs

Attach the new clips using screws. Find the original screw holes in the clip’s frame to use as a starting point. On the front of each clip is a circular hook or eyelet that is attached to a flat plate that has two screw holes already drilled into it. Screw each clip into place on both sides using a drill/driver and screws measuring 3/4 inches. For reference, use the original screw holes, nail holes, or staple holes. Assemble the springs by threading one end of each spring through one of the hooks or eyelets located on one side.

According to the website, professional upholsterers retie springs by hand. Hand-stretch the springs so that they cover the whole chair, then connect the other end of each spring into the eyelet or the hook on the opposite clip. Hook the end of a clamp onto one of the snake-like coils that are at the end of the spring if they are too stiff to extend that far. Attach the opposite jaw of the clamp to the chair’s side using the hook. After pulling the spring over the chair frame, tighten the clamp so that the end of the spring may be slipped into the eyelet or hook. If you let off of the clamp, the tension of the spring will keep the object in its current position. Perform each of them in the same manner.

Removing the Upholstery

If the upholstery is beyond repair, you should start pulling out the staples that are located all around the frame of the chair. It is possible that the staples are hidden by fillets, which are tiny pieces of wood covered with fabric and attached to the sides of the chair. If you cannot see any staples, this indicates that the staples are hidden. You may remove the fillets and reveal the staples by using a screwdriver to pull them off. Remove each staple from the fabric by pulling it out with a staple remover, then take the cloth off of the foam. According to Better Homes and Gardens, in order to reach these components, it is possible that you may need to dismantle the chair.

Remove the foam and batting from the bag. Make fresh pieces of foam, batting, and fabric out of your old scraps so you may save money. The most compact foam is either black or purple, medium density foam is dark blue, and the least compact foam is light blue. Ensure that the foam you choose has a thickness of at least 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches. Make use of two of them for an even greater cushioning effect. Using scissors or a utility knife, cut the foam and batting to the appropriate dimensions. On top of the springs, begin by placing the batting, and then cover it with the foam. The frame will often have a cutout in it that acts as a storage space for everything.

Fabric and Filets

After that, position the cloth. Place some heavy things on the seat and position it so that it is centred over the seat. This will compress the foam and the springs. Staple the fabric to the sides of the chair, going from corner to corner as you do so, and putting upholstery staples about 2 inches apart along the perimeter of the chair.

Make sure there are no wrinkles, lines, or creases in the cloth. If you do locate any, use your fingers to pull the cloth straight and then shoot staples between the existing staples to fasten the ones you found. To finish, place staples around the edge of the paper at intervals of approximately 1/4 inch. If the chair does not already include any fillets, you may manufacture some if you so like.

Take some measurements and cut a piece of plywood with a 1/4-inch thickness so that it can cover the stapled area. Make the strips approximately a half an inch and a half broad. You may either use spray adhesive to fasten the upholstery fabric to the plywood pieces or cut and staple matching upholstery fabric to the plywood pieces. To ensure that they completely cover the edges, you should nail them exactly over the staple lines. Make use of the hammer and little brad nails. The nail heads are able to pierce through the cloth without causing any holes (this is how most modern-day furniture manufacturers cover staple lines).