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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Best way to re-attach leather seat to rocker?


I've got an antique-ish rocking chair that folds up (badly) like a 'Director's Chair'.  The url shows a rocker like mine.  I see this style is referred to as a "Costa Rica Rocking Chair."  Indeed, the leather on mine has a lot of tooling on it and does say "Costa Rica."

Anyway, the leather seat and back is about 1/4" thick and was held on by a row of tacks on each side which were pulling out and rusting away.  I'm refinishing the chair and am ready to put the leather back on, but I'm afraid the tacks won't be strong enough to hold the seat long-term.  What is a good way to re-attach the seat and back (but especially the seat) that is going to allow that leather to support large people sitting for a long time?

- Curt

Hey Curt, these types of leather seat ARE usually only held on with tacks, and it's quite strong if good, headed upholstery tacks are used.The head of the nail actually does most of the holding, so it's important to drive the nail all the way in to make good contact with the leather when installing. On your comment of "support large people sitting for a long time", I wouldn't suggest large people sit on folding chairs that are designed for average body types.....and this style and design of chair is NOT a good fit for 'large' a Restorer, I have repaired, or tried to repair, piles of broken chairs many, many times...and too much weight, a loose frame, or a design made for average people's height and /or weight, or a frame made from some Asian or Tropical wood that's not strong enough, rank at the top of the reasons why they break.The leather would not be the weak point in such a scenario. The wooden parts, and their design, joinery, and/or material will be the weak point, especially as the parts age and dry out. I like to buy leather nails and tacks from a leather company..and you should be sure to use a heavy duty nail that's designed for that use, like these:  

Hope that helps,
Regards, Greg

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Greg Scholl


Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects, Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings, wood species recognition and usage,tool recommendations, blade types and recommendation,techniques and methods for many Woodworking related issues, etc.


Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.) Sold, built, serviced, setup Home, Industrial, and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools , provided knowledge, parts replacement, service, and on site service, Trade show Demo, and training as well.

Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002) ...("27 year compilation of expert know-how")

Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars from major Tool manufacturers, Skil/Bosch, Delta, Powermatic, Ritter, Porter cable, Milwaukee, Dewalt/B&Decker, Performax.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT. (the Antiques capital of CT.), Golden Age of Trucking Museum,Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies. For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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