How to Remove Upholstery Tacks on Leather Dining Chairs

Updated February 21, 2017

Reupholstering leather dining room chairs can make a world of difference to the decor of the room. The first part of reupholstering leather dining room chairs is removing all of the tacks that hold the leather securely to the wooden frame of the chair. You must be careful when removing the tacks so you do not damage the chair. Using a few household tools and a few precautions makes the job easier.

Start at a place on the chair where the tacks are already coming loose. In none of the tacks are loose, start at the back of the chair, preferably in an inconspicuous spot.

Insert the flathead screwdriver up underneath the upholstery. Use the hammer to lightly tap the screwdriver underneath the surface of the fabric and the tacks if necessary.

Press the head of the screwdriver against the chair while you pull the handle of the screwdriver up. Be careful not to damage the wood underneath the upholstery.

Wiggle the screwdriver back and forth a little to help loosen and remove the tacks from the wood frame.

Loosen a few of the tacks in a row. Remove the tacks from the leather.

Pull the leather with your hands, away from the chair, to loosen the next tacks. Pull out as many tacks as you can this way to prevent using tools, which might cause damage to the wood frame of the chair.

Use a small claw hammer to remove stubborn tacks. Place the claw underneath the upholstery and the tack. Use leverage to pull up the tacks.

Work your way around the chair to remove all the tacks.


Try not to rip the leather fabric while removing the tacks, as the fabric sometimes helps you to remove subsequent tacks. Use pliers to pull the fabric. The pliers help protect your hands from the sharp points of the tacks. Don't pull too hard and rip the fabric or damage the wood by roughly yanking out the tacks. Purchase a tack and staple remover, a tool used by upholsterers to remove tacks and staples, if you plan to do a lot of reupholstering.

Things You'll Need

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Claw hammer
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