This post walks you through the steps to reupholster an old stool using only basic supplies and materials.
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The Back Story
A friend gave me this old piano stool several years ago. It is Victorian and I love the legs of the stool and the fact that the top swivels. Initially, I painted it with MMS Milk Paint to brighten it up. However, as time passed, I realized the legs were loose. It got to the point where I didn’t feel safe sitting on the stool or using it. So, it has been sitting in the basement feeling a little sad.
If you have been following along, you know that I have been reupholstering an antique sofa. While I had out my air compressor and upholstery tools, I thought it would be a good time to give this Victorian piano stool a new life.
Also, many of you asked if I could share an EASY upholstery project with you. Reupholstering a stool is a GREAT way to learn upholstery. It is relatively easy and quick to reupholster a stool.
With that, let’s get started. I will walk you through the steps I took to reupholster this old stool
How to Reupholster an Old Stool
I wrote a post sharing some of my most used and favorite tools for refurbishing furniture. One of the most fundamental tools that I use for upholstery is an air compressor which I attach to a pneumatic staple gun. I could not reupholster anything without these two tools. If you plan to do upholstery projects, I recommend investing in both of these items.
Having said that, you can use a hand held staple gun, but you will likely need to hammer in the staples if they don’t sink into the wood deep enough.
Before we get started on this project, let’s gather out supplies.
- wood glue
- a small pry bar
- small hammer
- 150 grit sandpaper
- air compressor
- pneumatic staple gun
- 1 inch foam for seat cushions
- fabric scissors
- fabric for the top of your stool
- braided jute
- hot glue gun and glue sticks
Step 1 – Repair the Old Stool
As I had mentioned previously, the stool legs were loose and needed to be repaired. So, that was the first order of business.
I used a small pry bar and a hammer to gently pry off the loose legs. As you can see in the photos, the legs are attached to the stool by wooden dowels. After I removed the loose legs, I cleaned up the joints by scraping off the old glue, and sanding the wood and the dowels.
After that point, I applied some wood glue to the dowels and wooden center of the stool, reattached the legs using a hammer, and clamped everything into place. I let each leg dry for about 12 hours before I glued and clamped the next leg. I was unable to clamp two legs simultaneously given the design of the stool. So I had to glue and clamp one leg, let it dry, and then glue and clamp the second leg and let it dry.
Just a quick note, I used a hammer to re-attach the legs to the main body of the stool. As a result of hammering the legs back into place, I damaged the existing paint job. (Clearly, I am not perfect.)
Once the legs were repaired, we can move on to Step 2 which is where we reupholster the top of the stool. (And fix the now damaged paint job)
Step 2 – Reupholster an Old Stool
Roll out your 1 inch foam and place the stool upside onto the foam. Then use a marker to trace the top of the stool onto the foam. Then add about 1 inch to the outside edge of your outline.
The foam that I cut out for the piano stool is shown in the image above. It’s ok if its a little choppy on the sides.
Next you are going to use your pneumatic upholstery gun to attach the foam to the top of the stool.
The photo above shows how the foam should look after you attach it to the top of the stool. Notice – you can see where I hammered the legs to re-attach them to the stool. We will fix that later.
Next, we are going to use the same process to cut out some batting.
In the image above, you can see how I turned the stool upside down and traced the outline onto the batting. Then I added an inch all around the outline and cut out the resulting shape. TIP -add an inch to your traced outline because you will need enough batting to reach the sides of the stool.
Use your pneumatic stapler to attach the batting to the top of the stool.
When you are done, it should look similar to the photo above.
At this point, I decided that I wanted to repaint the base of the stool. So I mixed up the same color milk paint the stool was previously painted (MMS Farmhouse White) and sanded and re-painted the areas that were chipped due to the use of the hammer. It took 2 coats of paint and I waited 30 minutes for the first coat to dry before applying the second coat.
Now we attach our fabric! Pick out an upholstery weight fabric. Drop cloth from the local hardware store is an affordable option. I raided my stash of fabrics and found a piece of antique grain sack fabric that someone had stenciled on. I bought this several years ago at a vintage fair because I liked it but wasn’t sure – at the time- how I would use it. It fit the top of the stool perfectly.
Once again, it is time to use our friendly pneumatic staple gun. Attach the fabric to the top of the stool and be sure to pull it taught as you work around the stool.
After you attach your fabric, you are going to trim VERY CLOSELY to the edge of the staples. The secret to a good upholstery job is trimming away excess fabric and keeping your edges clean and closely cropped. It’s ok if some foam or batting is peeking out from under your fabric.
I use these scissors when I am working on upholstery projects. They ensure a close cut and they prevent my hands from getting sore because they have a “spring action” design. These scissors are designed to cut fabric -so if you buy them – keep them separate from your other scissors. This will keep them sharp and in good shape. Take it from someone who learned the hard way . . .
Finally, we are near the end! Plug in your hot glue gun and get your jute twine ready. We are going to cover up the staples with the jute twine. It literally takes less than 10 minutes to glue the twine over the staples and raw edges of the fabric. The jute twine will also cover any foam or batting that is peeking out.
Congratulations! You now have reupholstered your old stool. If you want to save this post for future reference, pin one of the images below to one of your Pinterest Boards. That way, if you click on the image in the future, it will bring you back to this post.
Now I won’t be afraid to sit on the stool and it will be much more comfortable with a padded top.
Those legs look much better.
Here is one final photo of the repaired and reupholstered stool. I love giving antique pieces of furniture a new lease on life. So many people toss out beautiful old furniture when all it really needs is a little love and an investment of time.
Thanks for stopping by the blog today. I hope you found some inspiration and useful information. If you reupholster a stool, I hope you will share a photo with me. I would love to see how it turns out.
What a pretty stool!! I LOVE those beautiful curvy legs! The fabric you chose is impeccable with the white paint. Fabulous job!!
Thank you Rachel! You can’t go wrong using antique grain sacks . . . Thank you for commenting.
I love the reupholstered stool! Thanks for explaining what tools are needed to succeed with this project.
Hello Cathy! Thank you for your comment. I am glad the post was helpful.
Omgoodness, I love to reupholster little stools like this one! They are fast and easy! That fabric – you find the best vintage fabrics, Anna! Pinned 🥰
Thank you so much Cindy! The stool you reupholstered inspired me.