My "Beware" indicator is when the customer explanation starts with, " All
you gotta do is". When I hear those words, I think to my self, "Then why
don't you do it if that is all you gotta do." And sometimes those words
slip out of my mouth if my response does not get through to the customer...
On Mon, 14 Jul 2003 06:38:01 -0500, "bentcajungirl"
This is the foam technique, with a high density dam around it ?
So what's wrong with them ? Is the technique possibly sound, with a
What did you use for foam ? the article describes a base of high
desnity foam with a border of the same, yet they're different colours.
I was wondering if these really were meant to be the same foam ?
IMHO, I'd have gone for traditional horsehair and batting for chairs
of that sophisitication. Never did like foam.
OTOH, "made my living" often means that you know how to turn a profit
out of the market, rather than you are producing the best possible
product (and these are all too often contradictory - it doesn't mean
that you couldn't, or wouldn't rather be doing it). I'm trying to
make my living on furniture and totally failing - I just don't have
the grasp of either pricing, or production to a timescale and budget.
There's no money in doing it "right" when your client group is too
fond of Ikea !
I didn't read into Andy's response what you and Perry apparently did. I
didn't find his response to be objectionable. Just a statement that to stay
in business often means doing things not exactly the way you'd do them if
you doing it for yourself. Actually, I was waiting for Perry to make the
I must admit I too was a wee-bit taken aback by Perry's response because
I had not detected any ill will in Andy's post either. I think Andy
meant well, but perhaps his choice of words just wasn't what Perry
wanted to hear at that time. I find both Perry and Andy to be very
worthwhile contributors to the group; I'd hate so see it turn nasty.
I don't think there was any ill will in Andy's response. But dumb-f##k
nitpicking. Which is about as useless as ill will. I have no tolerance for
whining. I stated in my OP that I used the EXACT materials and EXACT
technique. I took the trouble to post my findings. If I was only worried
about friggin' profits, then I would have done it a cheap crappy way, and
had no concerns about posting my personal review. By the way, most profit
LOSS is from the kind of customer that is like Andy. Time wasters,
questioning things they know nothing about. Anybody who thinks I am going
to apologize can just turn blue and wait.
This nit-picking post was typed and sent before I saw you had the
unfortunate rotten luck to live close to a bad upholsterer. I guess we are
both guilty of generalizing....eh?
On Mon, 14 Jul 2003 10:14:53 -0500, "bentcajungirl"
So what _are_ the exact materials ? They don't specify whether they
used chemically blown or mechanically blown foam for the high density
stuff, and that makes a difference.
And you still haven't said what was wrong with these chairs. Too hard,
too soft, too noisy, took a permanent set ? What ?
Styrene foam, also known as closed cell foam. (It *is* listed in the
article.) Different colors don't mean anything, just different manufacturer
or batch.Whether is chemical or mechanical is not something I care to
investigate (These are dining room chairs, not space shuttle seats.). I'll
go out on a limb and say I don't know. Anytime you use a combination of
closed cell with an open cell (urethane) there will be a definite difference
in the "hand". There is a dead feel. My legs feel the bump where the
urethane foam ends and the closed cell starts. Not uncomfortable, but
annoying. I don't like the idea of just 1/4" plywood. Not with the give
cutouts in it either. The finished heights of the chairs with seat inserts
in place is 18 1/2", so it's not a height discrepancy. The better scenario,
aw heck, it'll take longer, there go my profits, is to use a perimeter frame
of something at least 1/2". Woven webbing (synthetic or natural...let's not
split hairs here.) The most important component is the foam, density and
firmness are not the same thing. A high density foam that an experienced
upholsterer knows to cut a tad big and compress to get just that right
lifelike feel. Not too big or your work will cup. Cover with a light layer
of polyester and then wrap crisply with muslin then cover with final fabric.
Depending on the style of chair, seat, fabric and intelligent input from the
customer, the seat inserts can be made slightly rounded. Or sewn with a
welt and vertical side walls.
What makes a good upholsterer and a good satisfying job is not necessarily
something that one can put into words. It's an artistic thing, something
nitpickers have a hard time grasping. These seat inserts have a dead feel.
Military, sparse, minimal....yuk. The customer is to pick them up this
afternoon and we'll see what he thinks.
Geez.....You have NO CLUE about the PRACTICAL applications of foam density
in real life. I am talking about *density*, not height. The "bump" is the
percieved difference in the densities of the two foams, as one would rub
their hand over the surface. A 1/2" of urethane foam is not as tall as
1/2" of closed cell under use. Period. Yes, I understand the oversizing of
the urethane, that's a common technique. I did it with this set of seats
and I do it all the time. It's not rocket science.
I just read where you said you also had a nieghbor who's a mortician. I bet
you think he screws things up too. Mmmmmm, wonder what he'll do with you as
a customer???? :)) ( I hardly ever use smiley faces)
I missed that the first 2 read-throughs. The center is 5/8"
while the outer is 1/2". But that raspable outer rim has to
have a yucky, stiff, cardboardy feeling to it.
"Not always right, but never uncertain." --Heinlein
http://www.diversify.com Wondrous Website Design
Perry, not all of us have access to the article and you did start this
thread... in a woodworking group not an upholstry group, so we may not
all follow you as well as you like. I for one am confused. You say the
technique in the article doesn't work (you feel a bump), but you haven't
explained why. Without access to the article and what was specified, I
don't know what material was specified. (fyi: I think we all understand
the difference between density and thickness).
I don't understand what you're saying... you don't know what?
How can a color difference be 'mechanical'?
Clear. Two different densities, compressing differently.
You think the seat is too thin, especially with cutouts. Clear.
What is not a height descrepancy? I don't get this part.
You're suggesting that you should have beefed up the seat and added
webbing across the cutout? Why would 'you' do that, send it back to the
customer, they built the chair... right?
I was tracking up until the 'lifelike' part. What living thing is the
foam supposed to feel like? (yeah, I'm just being an ass on this one)
I agree with you Perry and it isn't just upholstery, it's every job that
requires effort, experience and talent to do correctly.
On Mon, 14 Jul 2003 14:09:58 -0500, bentcajungirl wrote:
<snip of another abusive message>
Now that Bay Area Dave has his meds balanced, you're going all barmy? Is
someone robbing Perry to calm Dave?
On Mon, 14 Jul 2003 08:10:28 -0500, "bentcajungirl"
Oh go and learn to read FFS !
If I wanted to insult you. you'd have noticed. If I've offended you
unintentionally, then I apologise unreservedly because that certainly
wasn't my intention.
This is just a generalised gripe. HTF do I do good work (which as we
all know, takes an absolute age) when the market won't pay more than
the equivalent rate for China. I just can't compete with that, even if
I live on just rice and noodles (because I have to import them !)
Now if you've managed to survive in this market for 15 years, then
you're doing better than I am. As it happens, I live next door to an
upholsterer who has been doing it since the '50s. I don't like his
work at all (it's certainly not how I'd do it) because he does
everything with a slab of foam and spray glue. OTOH, you're damned
lucky these days to have a client base that can appreciate the
difference, let alone be willing to pay for it.
Andy, I appreciate your reply. And my daily bane is to deal with burned
customers of other upholsterers. Upholstery is a dying art. There are few
of us left, and even fewer that take the time to do good solid quality work.
It's tough to make a profit and keep your head above water when supplies
costing 100.00 cost 41.00 to ship. In 15 years, I have amassed a terrific
customer base. When I first started, the kind of customers that would come
in, their first question was "how much". Now, my customers just ask "when
can you...?" They know I am not the fastest, (I don't like the look of
"fast" work) they know I travel quite a bit. They know that first of all, I
have to be happy with the outcome of a piece, *then* they can have it back.
A can really appreciate your line of work. Let me explain...
About 2 years ago, my wife and I looked into getting two wing chairs
reupholstered. The estimates ranged from a low of $250 per chair to a
high of $600 per chair. These were two chairs that are over 10 years
old and brand new probably wouldn't cost over $200 each, so it seemed
kind of excessive to me. So there they sat in our living room with
blankets covering the holes in the fabric on the arm rests (Damn
A few months later I saw that our local adult night school was
offering a 6 week upholtery course for $70. Being handy, I figured
why not give it a shot.
I was able to do both chairs for about $200 (actually I have not
finished the second, but I already purchased the materials). I found
that upholstry is not rocket science and if you learn the tricks of
the trade you can do a pretty decent job yourself. That said, I now
understand why it costs so much and can't imagine why the estimates we
got were so LOW! It's labor, labor, labor. My instructor also
explained why I can buy a chair for less than I can have it
reupholstered for. Reupholstery requires each piece to be custom cut
where the factories can turn out hundreds, assembly line fashion.
As a testament to how hard it is to make a living doing this, my
instructor supplemented his income... teaching upholstry classes at
night school. I think if your customers could see what is involved in
your work, they would not question the price you charge.
Even small chair factories turn out hundreds. My stepson works in such a place,
as a finish upholsterer. He is fast, very, very good, and has no desire to open
his own shop--at least that I know of. He makes more where he is, and while he
works his butt off, he probably doesn't work as hard as he would have to doing
Facts are stupid things.
Good observations, Chris and Charlie. If I didn't live frugal, and within
my means, then upholstery wouldn't even begin to cover my living expenses.
My van is 15 years old, and I bicycle for fun. Live a modest lifestyle.
And then throw in some combative yo-yo off the street that just upsets the
The tools for a good upholstery are just as expensive as a good woodworking
shop. Plus the knowledge in the care and feeding of these machines.
Trying to "train" your customer base. No weekends, evenings are off limits.
If your shop is at your home, nothing is worse than someone who stops by
pretending to visit and then mentions upholstery "oh, by the way, I've got
this sofa.....) So many people have in the last decade bought crappy
furniture, unknowing, and then I have to be the bad guy to tell them this
sofa is crap, they are better off buying a quality piece of furniture that
will serve them well and call me in ten years when this one's covers need
Just as in fine woodworking for out, the public can be a bear.
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