When you first start out learning upholstery, there are a few tools you will need to get started. However, there is no need to rush out and buy all the professional tools. There are many tools you probably already have that you can substitute for the professional ones and still yield great results! Using the substitute tool is a great way to just get started rather than delaying starting because you don’t have the recommended professional tool. Sometimes you just need to jump in and get going! As you’ll soon see, there are many substitute tools you can use for upholstery!

I do highly recommend that you eventually obtain the professional-level tools listed here. They will make the project easier, save you time, and typically produce better results.

For many it is the cost of the new tools that hold them back, however, once you factor in the cost of pro tools to get started compared to the money you could make, the startup cost is very low. If your plan is to only do a couple small projects here and there for fun, and you have no intention of turning it into a business, then use the substitute tools! Below you’ll find a list of professional upholstery tools that I recommend for any serious upholsterer or someone looking to turn their upholstery skills into a business. Next to that you’ll see the recommended substitute tool if purchasing the professional tool isn’t feasible.

Substitute Tools You Can Use For Upholstery

 Professional Upholstery Tool     

Substitute Tool for Upholstery

Pneumatic Staple Gun

  • Manual staple gun in some situations 
  • Upholstery tack hammer and tacks

Pro-Staple or Tack Remover                                                                        

  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Tack Puller
  • Awl
  • Side cutter diagonal wire cutter
  • Pliers

Wooden Mallet

  • Hammer

Foam Saw

  • Electric carving knife (Yes, I mean the common kitchen item for carving turkey!)
  • Large Sharp knife

Industrial Sewing Machine

Home sewing machine with compatible fabrics

Klinch-It Tool – (An amazing tool that attaches coil springs to the support system saving you tons of time!)

Hand-sewing the springs to the support system

Last, but not least: Fabric Scissors

Another important tool everyone needs whether you’re a hobbyist or business owner is fabric scissors. There isn’t a good substitute for fabric scissors. You need really good sharp scissors to cut through fabrics. Scissors made for fabric are a lifesaver and are not too expensive. As everyone who has fabric scissors knows, you never use them for ANYTHING else other than cutting fabric. Don’t use them for cutting jute webbing or any other upholstery supplies either! I can tell you that in our household everyone knew not to touch the fabric scissors! Cutting anything other fabric will dull them quickly and make them unusable.  

The most important thing for beginners is to get started! If you have some of these substitute tools around your house then use them to get started on your first project and worry about getting the professional tools later. I want everyone who starts out upholstering to be successful and these substitute tools will help reduce the initial overwhelm of getting started and purchasing everything upfront. Eventually though, purchasing that professional level tool will be worth it and you’ll find instant value in having the right tool on hand. 

If you want to find out more about the upholstery tools we use frequently, you can read more here: The right tool for the job

Kim’s Upholstery is all about helping and equipping others to learn the art of upholstery for pleasure, and if they want, enabling them to create an income for themselves – all on their own schedule!

If you are someone who has been wanting to learn upholstery, I invite you to view all the classes included in our membership here and contact me with any questions!

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See you on the inside, Kim