How to Install Upholstery Tacks on a Leather Rocking Chair Seat

If you've replaced the leather seat on your old rocker, or you just want to update it, upholstery tacks might be just what you're looking for.
Upholstery tacks add charachter to leather.Upholstery tacks add charachter to leather.
This type of tack -- which is routine on antiques -- looks like an overgrown thumbtack, and is typically used only for aesthetics. Most contemporary furniture manufacturers prefer staples for more holding power and efficiency. Typical rocker seats use 3/4-inch material for the base, with the leather wrapping around the bottom where it's stapled. Install upholstery tacks to the edge of the seat around the perimeter.

Step 1

Place the rocker on a worktable, with the seat facing the front, and one runner parallel to and flush with one side of the table. Place a clamp on one or both of the runners to hold it securely to the table.

Step 2

Place one upholstery tack centered, 3/8 inch up from the bottom edge of the seat. Hold the tack with your fingers. Tap it lightly with a small hammer so that the tip of the tack penetrates through the leather into the wood seat.

Step 3

Let go of the tack. Use the hammer to tap the tack down tight into the seat. The leather should look slightly pinched or depressed around the perimeter of the tack when it's all the way down.

Step 4

Place a dime on the left or right side of the head of the tack. The side of the dime should be touching the side of the tack. The dime is a spacer. Place the next tack beside the dime, tap it into the seat half-way. Check the spacing before tapping it all the way down. If the spacing is off, pull the tack out with your fingers, move it as needed and repeat. Don't worry about the previous hole; the head of the tack will cover it.

Step 5

Tap tacks into the side of the seat from the center to the left and right around the perimeter of the leather chair seat using the dime as a spacer on all the tacks. Move the clamps and chair as needed to access all four sides. Skip over chair parts as needed to continue the tack line with even spacings until finished.

Things You Will Need

  • Clamps
  • Dime
  • Hammer

Tip

  • Another option is to run a continuous row of tacks, touching each other side by side. This design looks OK, but it's difficult to get the tacks lined up perfectly each time. The dime spacing allows for a tiny bit of error that can't be seen.

Warning

  • Wear safety glasses.

About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.