Howdy friends! You know we have lots of experience with different furniture painting and finishing techniques. But today, we’re going to talk about upholstery! And specifically, learning how to apply UPHOLSTERY TACKS!
It’s no secret that upholstery tacks can be tricky to apply and get straight, so let’s chat about some different methods and tips and tricks for making it happen!
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Applying Upholstery Tacks
1. Choose an upholstery tack and supplies for your project!
We’ve found that there are tonnnnnns of options out there when it comes to choosing upholstery tacks and furniture tack for your project. We’re talking pewter, crystal, antique brass, silver… literally anything you can think of is available out there. There are a million options on Amazon alone!
While there are a wide variety of finishes and sizes for individual nails, you don’t have as much option when it comes to nailhead trim. But you might find it easier to apply, so don’t disregard it!
The upholstery tacks we chose are similar to these.
We’ll get into more tools you can use for applying upholstery tacks, but one you’re going to want FOR SURE is one of these hammers that are meant specifically for this application or a rubber mallet.
2. Spacing your Upholstery Tacks
For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on upholstery tacks rather than also diving into nailhead trim as well. We’ll save that for another post!
Spacing is so important when it comes to applying your upholstery tacks! And spacing will vary depending on the project and the look you’re going for. To get an idea of the spacing you want, try practicing with a piece of paper or felt and push several of the upholstery tacks through in a row to find out what look you’re going for and the corresponding spacing.
With this knowledge, make a mark on a measuring tape so you can be consistent with your spacing. Go ahead and mark out where all your upholstery tacks will go on your piece using the mark on your measuring tape.
3. Inserting the upholstery tacks!
They make these amazing tools called Spacing Guides that not only help you get your spacing perfect, but they also help you hold your nails in place while tapping them with your tack hammer to get them started.
If you’re not using a spacing guide, one tip I found very helpful is to use an awl to punch a small hole where each upholstery tack will go. This will help hold your tack into place when you’re nailing it in. Check out this video tutorial for more details on using it.
If you’re not using one of those spacer tools, use a needle nose pliers to hold your upholstery tacks in place while you give a couple gentle blows with your tack hammer. The pliers keep your fingers safe, and help you stabilize and hold the upholstery tack straight while you’re pounding it in. Once it’s in far enough, you can stop holding it with the pliers and just pound it in the rest of the way.
It’s important to step back from your work every now and again and make sure everything is looking good and appropriately lined up. One upholstery tack that’s not quite right will stick out like a sore thumb!
If you make a mistake, there’s a brilliant tool that makes it so easy to remove the tacks.
Occasionally you’ll have some problems with upholstery tacks bending when you’re pounding them in, which is soooooo frustrating! This happens when you’re dealing with very hard woods. My best advice for this is to use a small drill bit to pre-drill the holes. Or tap in nails that are a slightly smaller diameter than the needle of the tack to get a hole started. This is very tedious and time-consuming, but it’s the best fix I’ve found.
We wish you good luck on your upholstery tack and nailhead journey. If all else fails, take a break from your project and have as stiff drink and return to your project with fresh eyes.
And be sure to check out all of these other nailhead trim and upholstery tack projects from my blogger friends below!