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Upholstery is the term used to describe the work of providing furniture, mainly seats, with springs, padding, webbing and fabric or a leather covering. The word comes from the English word fort upholder which refers to a trademan who held up his goods. The term upholstery can be used in many industries including marine, airplane, car or domestic furniture and all use traditional upholstery techniques like straw and hay, hessians, coir, animal hair, coil springs and wadding which is crafted by hand, building each individual layers up. Modern upholstery techniques are also applied using synthetic materials like vinyl, serpentine springs and dacron.

Most furniture that require upholstering are constructed using wood as a frame, the best furniture is built using oak or alder as these woods are generally stronger than softwoods and allow for joints to remain strong over time. Upholstery aids used throughout the upholstery process such as staples, tacks and screws also hold better in hardwood in comparison to soft wood. The joints of the furniture are usually reinforced durning the upholstery process using a number of techniques, like screwing and/or glueing the joints together or doweling (drilling matched holes in joining surfaces and pushing dowels through) or blocking (using blocks of wood to provide additional support) Though much of the frame of the furniture item is often hidden in the finished product, some wood remains on show in certain furniture designs and this is called ‘show-wood’ which can be polished and restored during the upholstery process. Modern upholstered furniture frames maybe made up of metal or plastic.

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