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Messages - Stephen

Do any of you know of a supplier for sofa bed hinges, such as in the picture below. The type we need allows the seat to pull forward and raise up (to expose a storage area beneath) and to click and lay then seat/back section into a bed.

The hinges should look something similar to this:


So far, the only suppliers I've been able to find are in China.
Winters Sewing & Upholstery
Upholstery Resource website
Quote from: Rich on November 30, 2015, 02:29:31 am
Good quote Hammer.

Stephen, I meant how much effort is it to plug in the numbers for each new job? Even though the math is done for you with the formulas in the cells, you still have to estimate the yardage, hours etc, right? Or do you have a predetermined set of labor and yardage number for a chair that is similar to the new job? I would like to see the time needed for an estimate become as low as possible since they don't all turn into actual paid jobs.

Rich, you have some very good questions. How to you figure out what to charge? and how much time does it take? Firstly, let me say that on my business website I have a page of Upholstery Labor Prices. Then, since You wrote this message I've been writing two other pages, that, in a way, kind of address those questions. You can find them here: How do I figure out what to charge? and here: Filing Out the Estimate Sheet. I think that you probably already looked at this other page: Giving Estimates. In addition, there are a whole group of pages about pricing and estimates connected as subpages to this page: Furniture Upholstery Pricing.

One reason that I prefer to do my writing on my own website is that I have the pages set up w ith a WYSIWYG editor and it is so much easier for me to write on and add pictures to those pages. I addition, I can keep all my writing organized and in one place. I have been writing on forums for years. Early on I began to realize that once I wrote a forum message, how to I ever find it again. And then, how would I connect one of my forum messages with another? Since creating websites is one of my hobbies and passions, I decided to just organize all of my writings on a website. But enough about this.
Quote from: Rich on November 29, 2015, 06:38:17 pm
I like your detailed estimates....I wonder though, is that a form which you plug in different numbers for different jobs? Rich

Hi Rich,
I don't quite understand what you are asking by "plug in different numbers for different jobs".
So, I will say this, my estimate form is an Excel spreadsheet that I've programmed. The basic form can be used for almost any job. All the  amounts are calculated automatically. You can also use multiple jobs on the one form, by using a different column for each job.


Quote from: Rich on November 29, 2015, 12:59:15 am
I started this business in 1989 and with rare exception, I have a written record of every business customer phone call and meeting I've ever had. 1

Wow Rich. I am certainly admire your diligence in your record keeping. I am not yet at that point.

Quote from: sofadoc on November 29, 2015, 01:32:50 am
I've quoted prices to people over the phone.
I'll say something like "It will probably cost around $875".
Customers have a bad case of selective memory. It's certainly a good idea to keep some sort of record.

Yes, clients can have selective memories. That is one reason why whenever I give a phone quote I usually give the price in a range and within the context of a disclaimer. For example, when I give a phone quote I may say something like,

"To cover that wing chair in a basic* upholstery fabric, if everything is in good shape, it could run in the neighborhood of $600 to $900. The actual price may vary depending on the style and condition of the (sofa, chair, etc.), the type, style and pattern of the fabric.[/size]"
To read more detail about what I do to give estimates, go here: Giving Estimates

Secondly, I rarely ever do any work without first making out a Work Order (made out in Quickbooks), having a client sign it, and give a 1/2 deposit.  Click here to read more about making out Work Orders.

As a side note, let me say that I rarely go out to a client's home any more. Instead many clients will email me pictures to first get an estimate. At that time I give them a link to the fabrics page on my website. When they are ready they come into my shop to look at fabrics or place an order. Many times the client will be in rush, so I'll ask them if they want me to email the work order to them. Both at that time, and in the email, I'll tell them I need a signature and a half deposit. Thus, a large percentage of my Work Orders I will email to the clients, which they will mail back with the deposit and signature.

Best Wishes,
Quote from: vu on November 23, 2015, 03:15:22 am
Here is the deal. The item has came in for upholstery in used condition with fair amount of wear on it. .......... I don't know what will be more expensive to buy his stuff or to deal with the suit, but I want to do the right thing...
Any input is appreciated..

I applaud you for wanting to do the right thing. That's a good beginning.

I would suggest that you take a pause, take a deep breath, and reassess the situation. It never helps to berate a client, that never turns out well. It is always best to keep a good attitude and to keep a clear mind.

Let me try to give you some perspective by telling you a story.

I went through a situation a few years ago that had some similarities (unhappy client, etc). I wrote out the whole process, asked advice from others, and worked it through. I call that experience The Challenging Foam Client. I would advise you to read that very long article all the way through. Through that experience I discovered that "I" was at fault. I had been operating under some wrong assumptions and poor business practices. By trying to honorably work through that experience it greatly changed the way that I did business and worked with clients. Reading through it may give you some ideas.

Best Wishes
As an upholstery business owner, have you ever forgotten what you had told someone about a job, what you need for a job, to order, etc.. Over the years I have forgotten many things that would have been very helpful to remember. In recent years I have learned to take many more notes about jobs, payments, and the like. However, even so, sometimes my notes are scattered all over the place. I haven't had one central place to keep track of all the notes that are useful in running a business.
Recently I finally did something to help with that problem.... Read More

Quote from: scott_san_diego on September 21, 2015, 10:22:41 am
Any silk screen printer would be able to do it for you.  

That is partially/conditionally true. In the month since I posted my message here I have had a couple sample logos printed on upholstery vinyl. After getting those samples back I did a personal durability test. I grabbed a bunched-up piece of burlap and scrubbed hard on the ink printed surface. The ink rubbed off, which is not a good thing. Since then I have been doing a lot of research online as well as asking questions of various screen printing shops. Since then I have learned that the screen printer needs to use a solvent-based ink, which is said to bond with the vinyl surface instead of just lay on top of the vinyl. The challenge is that using a solvent-based ink is a health hazard and many silk-screen printers no longer use it. It takes special equipment to safely use the solvent based ink, which most small silk-screen print shops either can't afford or choose not to invest in.

I am currently having new samples printed with two different silk-screen printers using solvent based ink. We'll see how the ink on these samples stand up.

Best Wishes,
I have to give a price on a job of recovering 40 folding chairs, like this one in upholstery vinyl.

They want their logo printed on the vinyl, similar to how it is in the picture.

Does anyone know of any place that will print logos on upholstery vinyl?

Best Wishes
The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Recliner Estimate
January 17, 2015, 01:14:24 am
I give low cost options of MOST of my estimates, as shown on the Giving Upholstery Estimates page.. However, it's a low-cost option that I can live with. Even so, I am surprised at how many people choose the highest price, and are glad to pay it. (of course, this usually applies to high quality, special purpose, sentimental, or antique furniture.) People won't pay a lot of  they have junk furniture, unless they have a lot of sentiment attached to it.
Best Wishes,
The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Recliner Estimate
January 16, 2015, 05:19:18 pm
Whenever giving estimates, especially to clients who want a low price, I give what I call a "Comparative Estimate". I think of what the very simplest (cheapest) way that I can do a piece (while still doing a quality job). Then I think of the most complete (costliest) way, and a couple in between ways. Here is how I give estimates, as well as a sample on my website: Giving Upholstery Estimates.

The idea is, "when they pay less, they get less". For example, for the lowest cost option, think of the very quickest and least expensive way to do the chair (make sure it is a way that you feel OK with doing). Make everything plain and simple, for example:

  • a.) little or no cording

  • b.) eliminate any banding or skirts,

  • c.) eliminate any attached cushions, but make a tight cover.

  • d.) no buttons and no sewn-in designs

  • d.) simplify any other part that has extra work or design

Then add more services or more detailed options for each of the higher priced choices.

Now, about that recliner, the cheapest way might look like this on that recliner.
1. On the backrest: no sewn-in design and no buttons.
2. On the seat: no cording, just make it as simple wrap-around seat with no seams, except perhaps a corner seam.
3. Reuse all existing padding (with a note of "not recommended" by this).

Then follow that with other higher priced options.

I have been doing this method for several years and have found it works   very well. Using this method I become my own competition. Of course, I don't get all the jobs I estimate (some people just don't want to pay that much for upholstery) But all in all, it gives clients a choice. And, they can clearly see what they  get for each price.

Best Wishes,
What price would you quote for a Turkish chair? It has been at least 30 years since I've reupholstered one.
I have two basic questions: Roughly guessed for my client's chair (top picture) How many hours would you estimate, and how much for your total labor?

I had a potential client call me about recovering a Turkish chair.  He doesn't yet have this next chair, he saw a picture (top picture below) of the chair. He has not been to see the chair yet, but because he knows and likes Turkish chair, he thinks that this chair is a Turkish chair (which someone just covered over). He wants to find an upholsterer who will take on the job before he decides to buy it. He wants it stripped all the way down and completely rebuilt:

The client said that he would supply the fabric, or leather, as the case might be.

He was wondering about what the cost might be. Without yet seeing this pictures I gave him a rough off-the-top-of-my-head quote at least several thousand dollars. He was surprised that it would cost so much.

After I gave his the estimate he said that in the past He had another upholsterer (who has recently died) reupholster 3 Turkish chairs for him. This former upholsterer specialized in antiques. The client said the this former upholsterer charged about $900 labor to reupholster the last Turkish chair.

After the chair is reupholstered he would like for the chair to look similar to the way that this chair was done:

I looked in the Carrscorner Gallery and saw Buck's Turkish chair

At the bottom this picture is says that this chair took 200 hours to finish.

This is what that chair works out to mathematically:
  • If you figured $900 (as according to this client's first upholsterer) that would work out to about $4.50 per hour.

  • If you figured $30 per hour, that would make the labor on Buck's chair about $6000.

  • If you figured $40 per hour, the labor would be about $8000.

  • at $50 per hour, the labor would be about $10,000

Then, then he asked about reupholstering it in leather. Having hand sewn some leather in the past, I don't think that I would want to cover it in leather. When he sent the pictures he said that if I couldn't or wouldn't do it in leather, he has some fabric to use.

I'm still think that my first thought wasn't far off. What do you think?

Best Wishes,
One of my colleagues has received this sofa and the chairs from his grandmother:
(Click on pictures to enlarge.)
Do any of you recognized this style of sofa or the chairs and do you know anything about this type of sofa or the chairs or when they were made? The owner of the sofa thinks that it was made in the 50's. What do you think? What can you tell us about this sofa?

Best Wishes,
When I first started ordering upholstery coil springs for retying I had a hard time figuring out what size to order. I wonder if other people might have that same problem. Well, today I've had time to do some cleaning on my shop, so I was sorting and organizing my box of a mess of upholstery springs. After I got them all sorted out I decided to make up a Upholstery Spring Compression Chart to help with figuring what sizes to order.

I only have 6 sizes of upholstery springs on hand, which which are shown in the picture on that other page. So, after doing the compression tests on those that I have, I figured out the approximate compression of the others mathematically.
I'd be happy for any feedback of any of you who do your own compression comparisons.

My objective with the chart is to make it a little easier to order the approximate right size of spring for any job.

Best Wishes,
General Discussion / Re: Rent, own or work at home
January 07, 2013, 03:49:44 pm
When I worked for my dad many years ago we had a large shop for many years. Eventually he got cancer and we moved home so that we could take care of him better. That was in 1986. He died in 1988 and I worked with my sister (in her garage) until 1994 when I moved my shop to my own home. I've worked at home ever since. For about 8 years I lived and worked in a 650 sf house with a small single car garage (The living room was my cutting and sewing room. Had to walk through the kitchen to go from the garage to the LR. We were finally able to move into an old 2 story 1400 sf house with a 1 1/2 car garage where I was at last able to have my whole shop in one room (the garage), but still used part of the living room for my samples and the customers. My shop only had room to work on the piece I was doing at the time. Has to carefully schedule the jobs so the next job would come in as soon as the previous job left.  About two years ago my wife and I bought our first home, which included a 900 sf garage. I'm finally able to have my shop in one end and have room store additional customer furniture until I do it.

When we purchased the home we moved from the city with a population of 150,000 in the metro area to a small town (of 9,000) that 10 miles out of the city. It was a scary move for us (leaving the city for a small town). I didn't know if clients would come out. Clients have been coming. Since we advertise regularly it has made the move more workable. Actually, we all LOVE living in the small town. So glad that we moved out of the city. God has been good.

One thing that we had to investigate before purchasing the home was the Home Occupation Guidelines of the small town. Here I'm not allowed to bring any vehicles into my shop, but since I don't do auto upholstery that's not a problem.

Best Wishes,
General Discussion / Re: How To: Cushion Stuffing Video
December 13, 2012, 09:01:34 pm
Quote from: Mojo on December 13, 2012, 07:05:23 pm
What editing software are you using Stephen ?


For that video I used Windows Live Movie Maker (WLMM), which comes with the Windows 7 Pro OS. It does an OK job, and it's what I have to work with right now. I had purchased Power Director 9 earlier in the year, but have been having problems getting it to work right now.

I've use Windows Movie Maker (Windows XP) in the past, and it worked OK as well.

I think that just about any quality video editing software would do an OK job for just an regular video. I want to eventually make some CD's with the typical DVD menus at the front. I don't think that either of the above Windows Movie Makers will do that. So, now that I have a decent camera, eventually, when I can afford it, I want to get PowerDirector fixed or get another better video editing software. In the mean time I'll just use WLMM.

Best Wishes,