The Essential Guide to Upholstery and Fabrication Tools
upholstery tools

Introduction to Upholstery and Fabrication Tools

Professional upholsterers and fabricators rely on a variety of tools to not only make their work easier but more effective also. Some tools are common to most households and shops — a hammer, a good pair of scissors, a tape measure, etc. — some, however, are very specific to upholstering. Regardless, all of them make quality upholstery work possible, from bimini covers and other marine fabric applications to home decor applications, outdoor furniture seat covers, sun sails, and more.

This guide will cover the essential upholstery tools and upholstery supplies needed to work with marine, performance, contract, and other commercial- and professional-grade fabrics.

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Hand Tools and Supplies

Even in the 21st century, a lot of fabrication and upholstery work requires hand tools. Because variations of many of these tools have been in use by upholsterers and other craftspeople for centuries, it’s easy to imagine upholsterers of the future will still make use of them as well. Here is a list of what we consider to be essential hand tools for fabrication and upholstery projects.

  • Awls
  • Silicone Hand Roller
  • T Pins
  • Pneumatic Stapler and Compressor
  • Phillips Head Screwdriver #169N
  • Hand Notcher
  • Upholstery Regulator
  • Hole Cutter
  • Cutting Pad
  • Portable Tube Cutter
  • Webbing and Canvas Stretching Pliers
  • Dead Blow Hammers and Rawhide Mallets
  • Magnetic Tack Hammer
  • Presses and Dies

    Setting hardware in fabric is part of nearly every upholstery job, and the better your presses and setting dies, the more exact and durable your hardware placement will be. Here is a sampling of some top-quality presses, dies, and setting tools that can be used in almost any fabric upholstery application.

  • Osborne Multi-Duty Hand Press
  • Setting Dies
  • Hand Press
  • Pres-N-Snap® Setting Tools
  • Scissors and Shears

    A good pair of fabrication-specific scissors or shears — or multiple pairs — are essential in an upholsterer’s tool bag. Using the right pair of shears will make it easier to maintain good edges and trim thread exactly where you want to. Perhaps even more important, utilizing specialty shears can save you precious time and stave off frustration throughout the many varieties of jobs and projects upholsters take on year after year.

  • Wiss® Heavy-Duty Upholstery Carpet and Fabric Shears
  • Kretzer Pinking Shears
  • 4-½” Thread Nippers
  • Ergonomic Shears
  • Kretzer Trim Shears
  • Hot Knife
  • Odds and Ends

    Some essential fabricator and upholsterer tools don’t fit neatly into any category because their usefulness is so broad. Here are a couple of them.

  • Seamstick
  • Fabric Marking Pencils
  • Cleaning, Care, and Storage of Upholstery Tools and Fabrication Supplies

    Most upholstery and fabrication tools come with specific cleaning, care, and storage guidelines. Follow these as closely as possible to extend the life of your tools. In general, however, upholstery supplies and tools should be stored out of the reach of children and in a dry, ideally climate-controlled environment. Because dirt and dust can affect some tools’ wear and performance, maintaining a clean and dust-free workshop environment is helpful. Sharpen blades and oil hinges as needed. For all other considerations, see manufacturers’ recommendations.

    If you need a tool or upholstery supply you don’t see here, check our full site. Trican has the tools and supplies today’s fabricators and upholsters need, including tool kits like our Home Grommet Kit, and our Quik-Fit™ Tool Kit that makes it easy to hold fabric in place without clamps — an especially useful kit in windy conditions. We're always adding new products regularly, to help ensure you're successful in all the jobs you do.

    Final Notes


    The purpose of this guide is to give fabricators some general guidelines and product information.

    This guide should not be considered as the sole source of information on thread. This guide is strictly informational.

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