Whether you're upholstering your own newly built furniture, reupholstering an antique chair or simply tightening up the loose webbing under those sofa cushions, you'll need to know how to use an upholstery webbing stretcher. This handy tool, which comes in two designs, helps you increase the tension on the webbing that supports chair and couch cushions and even bedding. Follow these tips to use either type of upholstery webbing stretcher.
Familiarize yourself with the gooseneck webbing stretcher. This upholstery tool is shaped a little bit like a paint roller. Instead of the roller, you'll find a fixed bar on the end of the handle, with a row of sharp teeth or prongs facing toward the handle, and a rubber cushion or protective covering facing away from the handle. Because this type of stretcher makes holes in the straps, use it only with tough jute or canvas webbing.
Lay the loose end of a roll of webbing across the far side of your furniture frame, with the roll facing toward you and about an inch of webbing overlapping away from you. Attach the webbing to the frame with three tacks or staples, just inside the far edge. Fold the overlapping piece back toward you (over the tacked portion) and anchor it with two more tacks centered below the three. Imagine that the tacks form a "W" shape.
Unroll the webbing strap toward you, but do not cut the webbing yet. Pull it as taut as you can. Then slip the gooseneck upholstery webbing stretcher around the web, about an inch outside the near edge of the furniture frame. With the handle facing you, pull the tool toward you so the prongs catch the webbing.
Brace the rubber cushioned end of the webbing stretcher against the outside of furniture frame, and push down on the handle. The webbing stretcher becomes a fulcrum, allowing you to pull the webbing as taut as possible.
Attach the taut webbing to the near side of the furniture frame with three tacks or staples. Leaving a 1-inch overlap outside the frame, cut the webbing off the roll. Fold the overlap back over the tacks (away from you) and reinforce it with two more tacks as you did at the beginning.
Repeat Steps 2 through 5 for each webbing strap. You should use at least three webbing straps in each direction; add more if it's a large piece of furniture like a sofa or bed, or if the cushions will be getting a lot of use.
Get to know the slotted upholstery webbing stretcher, sometimes referred to as a strainer. This footprint-shaped tool, usually made of wood, has a slot for inserting a webbing loop and a wooden dowel on a string to hold the loop in place. The handle end is rounded, and the other end is straight and stepped so it can fit snugly against the furniture frame. Use this kind of upholstery webbing stretcher when you don't want to make holes in the webbing.
Follow Step 2 of Section 1 to start the first webbing strap. Pull the webbing toward you as tightly as you can. Hold it with one hand, and let the webbing roll drop to the floor or table.
Hold the slotted webbing stretcher with the handle end up, the stepped end down and the dowel on the side facing away from the furniture frame. Grab the webbing a few inches outside the near edge of the furniture frame and fold it into a loop. Tuck the loop into the slot in the webbing stretcher, and secure it by sliding the wooden dowel through the loop on the back side of the stretcher.
Let the free end of the webbing hang down between the stepped edge of the tool and the furniture frame. Brace the stepped edge of the tool against the outside of the furniture frame, trapping the free end of the webbing. Push down on the handle end of the stretcher, using it as a lever to pull the webbing taut.
Follow Step 5 of Section 1 to trim the webbing and attach it to the near side of the furniture frame. Repeat Steps 2 through 5 for each webbing strap.
You can find special cable tensioner tools for steel webbing, or use webbing pliers, which have gripping edges, to tighten loose webbing. Adjust the placement of the loop if necessary to get the best amount of tension.