Computer Upholstery: Part Two


Last week I laid the foundation of upholstering a panel for a system . This week I got to actually adding the fabric and installing it. I have to tell you – lessons were learned.

Once you have your backing piece finished , the upholstery part isn’t terribly difficult. You will need a staple gun, batting (available at craft stores), your fabric, some good scissors, a utility knife, and spray adhesive/mastic (I like 3M Super 77 or Hi-Strength 90, but any similar product should work).

The next step is to cut out the batting. I used two layers because my batting was thin. The batting gives the panel a bit of padding. Without it, your results will be a bit lack luster and contain hard to remove wrinkles. How much padding you want is up to you, but if you want more than an inch, you will want to use a foam insert between the batting and backing board.

Measuring out the fabric has an important caveat. I’m leaving about an inch all the way around. This extra material will be used to attach the fabric to the backing piece. Don’t cut out the hole (if you have one) just yet.

With all the pieces cut, it’s time for adhesive. You want to coat the back of the fabric and the top of the batting (the side that will come in contact with the fabric) with a generous layer of adhesive. Use a ventilated room and follow any instruction on the can. After you apply it, wait 15-20 minutes before moving on.

Assembly just requires stacking the pieces and securing them. I like to spray a bit more adhesive along the edge of my backing material after I’ve stacked them (ok – so maybe I have done this before – once).

With the pieces in place, it’s much like wrapping a present (consult a female if this is new to you). You simply fold the edges over and use the adhesive to hold them in place. Then put staples in every few inches. The corners may give you some trouble. You can cut some of the extra material off, being careful not to cut too much. For the hole, cut a star pattern in the fabric with a utility knife and fold the pieces back. It’s a good idea to staple them as well. The fan mounting holes required me to stick a small nail through the back (for locating) and make very tiny cross cuts with a utility knife on the fabric side.

At that point, it’s all over but the tellin’! I mounted the panel and had a look. I’m pretty happy with the results, especially considering this was a “proof of concept” for me. The slight lifting at the corners can be taken care of with small bolts. With a nice brass fan grill, I’ll get just the look I’m after.

A few pointers I picked up along the way:

The staples I used would not go very deep into the backing. The typical solution is to use shorter staples. However, I was already using the smallest staples I could find for my staple gun. The hardboard is actually too hard for this technique. Quarter inch or thinner plywood might be better. As a stop gap, I used a small hammer to flatten the staples out. It works, but it’s not ideal. And oh...Yes you can manage to staple yourself with a staple gun - be careful.

It’s worth noting that I folded each corner differently to see which way would look best. I found that folding it just like a gift without removing extra material wasn’t the best. I also found that removing too much material leaves a “ridge” effect at the corner. So, I guess striking a balance is key.

I have to say though, the look is far better than I had expected. I’ll definitely pursue this deeper.

Today’s bling is a bit more moducation in 2 parts. Provided by MNPCTech and Bill Owen’s how to video on Turbine Style Fans !

Get some popcorn – 30+ minutes of video (but well worth it).

Around the web