Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Random Sofa Surgery (Part 1)

Not sitting comfortably.

My sofa has been sagging for a while now. Mostly caused by some fat bastard lounging on one end of it making it sag unevenly as well. Apart from the sagging however it's in quite good nick, being good quality leather and I've not been able to find a suitable replacement that I like.

Reduce, Recycle, Re-use, Repair.

So rather than chuck it and fork out a small fortune for a new one I'm doing my bit for the planet and repairing it. I've made some temporary repairs in the past when some of the elasticated webbing straps failed - caused by rubbing on part of the internal frame - but now the seat and back cushions really need extra stuffing. Also a more permanent solution to the "suspension failure" caused by the failed webbing.

Getting the bottom up.

Upside-down sofa
Fig. 1 Sofa in working position.
On this sofa the seat cushions can't be removed so any repairs have to be done from below. So the first thing to do is turn the sofa upside down. The last thing you want to do is crawl around on hands and knees for the next couple of hours so prop the sofa up under the arms to get things to a more convenient working height. (fig.1)

Next unscrew and remove the 4 feet. Now you can remove the bottom cloth which covers the innards of the sofa. This means prying out the staples using a bradawl or suitable screwdriver (the bradawl is more comfortable as the handle is designed for dusking on) and a pair of fine-nosed pliers. There are a lot of staples. A LOT. At least you can get away with only undoing the 2 short and one long sides and folding the cloth back. You can now see the underside of the seat and in my case the temporary bodge repair on the failed webbing straps. 

underside of sofa seat
Underneath the seat.

Bodge it.

This was done by fixing the broken ends to 2 wooden battens, Tensioning the straps by pulling the battens closer together using plastic cable ties (zippy ties), and then using sash cord to hold the battens in position. A piece of foam rubber is placed between the sash cords and the part of the frame that rubbed through the webbing to protect the cords from meeting the same fate. It's not pretty but then it's not usually visible and in 6 months or more it hasn't broken.

Unfortunately its not possible to get to the ends of the webbing straps to replace them as they're fixed to the upper side of the frame. I plan to reinforce the structure by adding steel zig-zag springs instead. That will be covered in part 2.
Meanwhile, in order to re-stuff the seat cushions I needed to get access below (or above if you prefer) the webbing straps to insert more padding between the strapping and the foam rubber cushions, thus pushing them back up against the leather covering above so that the seats regained some at least of their original shape. To do this required the removal of more staples to release the brown cloth at the back of the seat cushions and bottom of the seat back cushions (on the left in fig.2). Out with the bradawl and pliers again.

Hand in underside of sofa cushion
Fig.3 Space to stuff cushions.

Stuff it.

With the cloth folded back there is enough space at the rear of the cushion to push down the foam rubber and introduce extra stuffing (fig.3). In keeping with the environmentally friendly ethos of this repair the extra stuffing I used was recycled bed pillows containing hollow fibre wadding. These were almost exactly the right size for two of them to fit in the space available and just the right thickness to boost the foam cushions.

While working on the seat cushions I noticed that the lumbar support part of the seat backs had a zip on the back so I added some extra hollow fibre padding in there as well.

Once the re-stuffing was done I re-stapled the brown cloth to the seat frame using staples with 8mm long legs, similar to those that came out. Checking underneath I could see that the seat cushions were now a much better shape. They are not quite equal because as mentioned previously one end of the sofa had suffered greater wear than the other but they are near enough for jazz.

Pad it.

underside of sofa showing foam padding
Fig.4 protective foam padding
Now that the seat cushions were re-stuffed I needed to provide some padding and protection to the centre part of the frame, both to protect the webbing and cords from abrasion and to protect the posterior of sitters from the hard edge of the frame. It's a 2 seater really but occasionally has to cope with 3. Fortunately I had a piece of seating grade foam left over from making a dog bed which was exactly the right size and wedged into the space between frame and seat perfectly, folded double at the point where the most load is applied to the sofa.

A quick going over with the vacuum cleaner removed much of the accumulated detritus from the interior of the sofa - how did the lid of a Pringles tube get in there? As I still have more work to do I haven't re-stapled the bottom cloth back in place.

I temporarily screwed the feet back in place and turned the sofa the right way up.

Sit on it.

Fig.5 Re-stuffed sofa.
Well it looks much better than it did. It's noticeably less saggy at the end on the right in fig.5 and is more comfortable to sit on, which is where I'm writing this blog from. There's no way to get into the armrests to add stuffing alas but they're not too bad and I have scatter cushions on them usually.

Next step is to fit the steel zig-zag springs which I've now ordered from a well-known internet auction site and will add some strength to the structure. It won't be "as new" but for an outlay of somewhat less than £20 it should extend its life considerably. I'll cover the fitting of the springs in part 2 when they arrive.

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