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Re-springing a chair

Regency elbow chair

Quite often when you buy an old dining chair the springs are slack or the webbing has rotted and so the springs fall below the chair bottom.

These steps below guide you through the procedure of webbing and attaching new springs before re-stuffing. More pages will be put up as guides to completely re-upholster the chair.

These procedures are the same for doing larger chairs and stools
19thc Spoon back chair

Figure 1 Attaching the webbing

Following the instructions given for attaching webbing in project 2, figures 3-8, tack six pieces of webbing underneath the frame, making sure the central pieces in both rows are straight and at right angles to each other.
If the frame is wider at the front than the back, the strips of webbing running from side to side should be parallel to the front and back rails and to each other, while the side strips of webbing running from front to back should be parallel to the side rails (1).

Figures 2-5 attaching the springs to the webbing

Stand the chair upright, and place five 100 mm (4in) gauge 10 galvanized steel double-cone springs in position at the junctions of the webbing, so that the knots at the top of the springs are facing the centre of the chair (2).

You should attach each spring to the webbing with three equidistant stitches around the base of the spring. To do this, thread a springing needle with approximately 2 m (78 in) of twine.
With the chair facing you, insert your needle into the webbing from underneath, at the base of the spring at the top left-hand corner. Catch the spring in a single stitch and push the needle back through to the underside of the webbing. Fasten the twine with a slip knot. Bring your needle up again, make a second stitch over the base of the spring and, when your needle is back on the underside of the webbing, knot the twine to the long stitch just formed. Make the third stitch (3 and 4) in the same way. Repeat this procedure for all the springs, working in the shape of a Z from the first spring to the last (5). Finish off with a double knot.

Re-springing-a-chair1        Re-springing-a-chair2

Figures 6-12 Lashing the springs

The purpose of this process (also called cording) is to keep the springs upright and under tension, so that when the chair is sat on they are all depressed together.

Drive in three 1 5 mm (| in) temporary tacks along each rail in line with the centre of each spring (see figure 11). Cut six pieces of laid cord long enough to go very generously across the frame, over the tops of the springs Make a single knot at the end of one piece.and slip it over one of the temporary tacks (6). Make another single knot (7), pull it tight and drive the tack home (8). Attach all six pieces of cord along two adjoining rails in this way (see figure 8).

The springs must be lashed so that the top coil of the outer ones leans towards its nearest corner, making an overall domed shape (the central spring remains upright). Starting with one of the pieces of cord on the side rail, make a simple knot (9) round the nearest point of the top coil of the nearest spring, pulling the cord tightly so the spring leans a little towards the rail. Then make a half-hitch knot on the top coil opposite the first knot (10). Take the cord to the next spring in a straight line, and knot it with a half hitch.

Compress the springs about 1 3 mm (5 in): this will loosen the two half hitches and you should now tighten the cord, taking up the slack so that the springs stay under a slight degree of tension. Then make another simple knot opposite the second half hitch. Anchor the cord to the appropriate temporary tack with two single knots, pulling it so that the top coil of the second spring leans toward the nearest rail at the same angle as the first spring (11). Trim the cord.

Lash the second row of two springs in the same way and parallel to the first, then lash the central spring using two simple knots. Compress it as much as the other four springs, but keep it upright. Now lash the central spring from front to back, looping the cord round the existing lashing where the two cords cross, before making your second knot.

Lash the outer springs from front to back, knotting as before and looping the cord round the existing lashing as you cross it. When you have finished this lashing, all five springs should be compressed equally, the top coil of each outer spring leaning toward its corner and the central one remaining upright (12).

If you would like advice or a quote on restoring an Antique Chair, please get in touch by completing this short form. I am located in Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK.