Automotive Upholstery Tools Guide

20th June 2023

Hey, this is Joleen and I’ve found a great video for you about automotive upholstery tools.

If you’re looking to get into the automotive upholstery industry, you’ll need to have the right automotive upholstery tools. In this article, Kyle from Low Cash Classics shares his experience and expertise on the essential auto upholstery tools needed to get started.

From sewing machines to measuring tools, cutting tools to specialized air tools, Kyle covers it all.

automotive upholstery tools


  • To get started in automotive upholstery, you’ll need a walking foot sewing machine and a set of piping feet.
  • Measuring tools, marking utensils, and cutting tools are essential for precision work.
  • Specialized air tools and hog ring pliers are also important for certain tasks.

Why I Think This Is A Great Video:

  1. 🚀 Unleash Your Creativity! With these top-tier automotive upholstery tools, you can easily transform any standard car interior into a luxurious haven that is uniquely yours. No more settling for factory designs!
  2. 💡 Discover Quick Fixes! Now, I’m never intimidated by minor rips or damages to my car seats. These amazing tools provide me with the ability to repair minor damages on-the-go, saving time and money over professional repairs.
  3. 🏁 Race Through Projects! Say goodbye to lengthy interior makeovers. The exceptional durability and design of these tools allow me to quickly navigate through my project, completing it in record time without compromising on quality.
  4. 🔧 Master the Art of Upholstery! Whether it’s stitching leather seat covers or installing new carpeting, these tools empower me to master any automobile upholstery task, making every ride a testament to my craftsmanship.
  5. 👌 Experience Top-Notch Quality! With these professional-grade automotive upholstery tools, I’m assured of their long-lasting performance and reliability. Now, every restoration or customization project feels like a breeze with reliable tools that won’t let me down.

Sewing Machine Essentials #1 Automotive Upholstery Tools

When it comes to automotive upholstery, a sewing machine is the most essential tool that you need to have. In this section, we’ll cover everything you need to know about choosing a sewing machine, understanding a walking foot, and different sets of feet.

Choosing a Sewing Machine

Choosing a sewing machine can be a daunting task, but it’s crucial to get the right one. You can find sewing machines ranging in price from $200 to $2000.

It’s essential to do your research before making a purchase.

It’s important to note that the sewing machine you choose must be a walking foot machine. A walking foot machine has feed dogs that work together with the foot to push your material through.

This feature is crucial when working with thick materials like those used in automotive upholstery.

Understanding A Walking Foot

A walking foot is a mechanism that moves the top and bottom layers of fabric evenly through the machine. This feature is essential when working with heavy materials like leather, vinyl, or foam.

Without a walking foot, the top layer of fabric will move faster than the bottom layer, causing uneven stitches.

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Different Sets of Feet: #2 Automotive Upholstery Tools

Different sets of feet are used for different purposes. For example, a quarter-inch top stitch foot is used to make a straight stitch a quarter of an inch from the edge of the fabric.

A piping foot set is used for making welting, and a standard foot is used for regular stitching.

It’s essential to have a few different sets of feet when working on automotive upholstery projects. Welting feet are especially important because it’s almost impossible to do welting with a regular foot.

Choosing the right sewing machine, understanding walking foot, and having different sets of feet are crucial when working on automotive upholstery projects. Do your research before making a purchase and make sure to invest in a walking foot machine and a few different sets of feet to get the job done right.

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Measuring Tools: #3 Automotive Upholstery Tools

When it comes to automotive upholstery, accurate measurements are crucial. You’ll need a few measuring tools to ensure that your work is precise and professional-looking.

Ruler and Yardsticks

The first measuring tool you’ll need is a ruler. A vintage Dodge dealership ruler is a great option, and it’s what I use on every project.

You can also pick up a yardstick for a nice straight edge and measuring stuff. Yardsticks are super cheap, and you can get them at Walmart or Albright Supply for just a few dollars. You may want to get a metal one for durability.

Dressmakers Tape

A dressmaker’s tape is another measuring tool that you’ll want to have. I have a really long one that’s 120 inches, and it comes in handy.

You can get one of these at Hobby Lobby for around five bucks. This is great for measuring longer distances and can be used to measure curves and angles.

Bendable Ruler

A bendable ruler is another measuring tool that you may find helpful. It kind of keeps its shape, so it really helps whenever you’re doing certain size turns or anything like that.

This ruler is not necessary, but I like it for making my turns. You can get one of these on Amazon.

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Overall, having a variety of measuring tools will make your work easier and more accurate. A ruler, yardsticks, dressmaker’s tape, and a bendable ruler are all great options to have in your toolbox.

Marking Utensils

When it comes to marking utensils, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. These tools are essential for marking your materials accurately and efficiently, so it’s important to choose the right ones.

Fabric Marker Pens

When you first start out, you may be tempted to use any old marker pen to mark your materials. However, this can be a big mistake.

Many pens will bleed through your materials or won’t show up at all. That’s why it’s important to choose a quality fabric marker pen.

One option is to use a fabric marker pen with blue ink. These are readily available at most craft stores and are a great choice for marking materials.

However, if you’re working with vinyl, you’ll need something different.

Fisher Space Pen

The Fisher Space Pen is a great choice for marking vinyl. This pen uses a pressurized cartridge with silver ink, which writes on just about any color vinyl you want to use.

It’s important to make a test mark and try to wipe it off before using it on your materials.

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Sharpies are another great option for marking your materials. However, you’ll need to be careful when using them.

If you only get black sharpies, they won’t show up on black materials. That’s why it’s important to get silver sharpies, which will mark just about anything you need to mark.

Choosing the right marking utensils is essential for success in the automotive upholstery industry. By using fabric marker pens, Fisher Space Pens, and Sharpies, you can mark your materials accurately and efficiently, ensuring that your projects turn out great every time.

Cutting Tools

When it comes to cutting tools, you’re going to need a few different pairs of sheers. You can get a nice pair of sheers online but it’s also a good idea to have a few cheaper pairs from Walmart on hand.

These are great for cutting thinner materials, while the more expensive pair is better for thicker materials.

Another essential cutting tool you’ll need is a seam ripper. When you’re first starting out, you’re going to be taking apart old covers and making mistakes, so a seam ripper will be your best friend.


When it comes to sheers, it’s important to keep them sharp. You can take them to certain places, such as quilting stores, to have them sharpened for you.

It’s also a good idea to have a few different pairs on hand, as you’re bound to misplace them at some point.

Seam Ripper

A seam ripper is an essential tool for any automotive upholsterer, especially when you’re first starting out. Make sure to get a good quality seam ripper, as you’ll be using it almost daily.

It’s also important to keep the cap on the seam ripper when not in use to avoid damaging your materials.

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Specialized Tools

Electric Turkey Carver

One of the specialized tools you’ll need for automotive upholstery is an electric turkey carver knife. This tool is perfect for cutting foam as it slices right through it with ease.

You can find this tool at a thrift store for a dollar or two. It’s a great investment for shaping foam and getting that initial shape you need.

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Staple Guns

Staple guns are an essential tool for automotive upholstery. You will need a hand staple gun for basic projects.

However, if you plan on doing more advanced projects, you’ll need a pneumatic staple gun, which is more expensive. The pneumatic staple gun is faster and more efficient than the hand staple gun, making it a worthwhile investment if you plan on doing upholstery professionally.

Pneumatic Stapler

A pneumatic stapler is a specialized tool that you’ll need for automotive upholstery. This tool is perfect for stapling through thicker materials such as fiberglass.

It’s a great investment for professional use and will save you time and effort in the long run.

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Office Stapler

An office stapler may not seem like a specialized tool, but it’s essential for making patterns. Instead of using pins, which leave holes that can’t be covered up, you can use an office stapler to hold your material together while you sew.

It’s a cheap and efficient tool that you can find at any office supply store.

Specialized tools are necessary for automotive upholstery, and investing in the right tools will save you time and effort in the long run. An electric turkey carver, staple guns, pneumatic staplers, and office staplers are just a few of the specialized tools you’ll need to get started in this industry.

Remember: do your research and invest wisely in your tools to ensure your success in the automotive upholstery field.

Air Tools

If you’re planning on doing any serious automotive upholstery work, you’re going to need some air tools. Here are a few that I recommend:

Paint Gun

First up is the paint gun. You’re going to need this for spraying your glue.

I started out trying to use the 3M adhesive on stuff, but it just doesn’t work. Any heat at all and everything comes completely unglued.

Once I switched over to using the Landau cement that you can spray through this, I haven’t had any issues. You can also order one online.

You will want to put a pressure regulator on it so you can adjust your spray and stuff like that. I’ve used this gun on every project I’ve done. You just leave your glue in it, it’s sealed good enough, your glue doesn’t dry out.

Every once in a while you’ll want to clean the nozzle and stuff like that, but I never clean the pot or anything. So get yourself a nice spray gun.

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Die Grinder

Next up is the die grinder. You’re going to need this for shaping foam. I use this little die grinder, it takes the stuff down super super fast, so it’s great for getting your initial shape in there.

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DA Sander

Finally, you’re going to need a DA sander with an 80 grit sandpaper just to kind of smooth everything out, finish out my shape the way I want it to. I’ve got this one which is just a little sander that I use to put notches in my foam for where I can tuck my salvage in.

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That’s it for air tools. With these three tools, you’ll be able to handle most of the foam work you’ll need to do for automotive upholstery.

Hog Ring Pliers

When it comes to automotive upholstery, hog ring pliers are a must-have tool. These pliers are used to attach metal hog rings to secure the upholstery material to the frame of the car seat.

You can find hog ring pliers at most hardware stores or online. They come in a variety of sizes and styles, but the most common type is the spring-loaded pliers with a grooved jaw to hold the hog rings.

When using hog ring pliers, it’s important to choose the right size hog ring for the job. The hog ring should fit snugly around the material and frame without causing any bunching or wrinkles.

It’s also important to use the right technique when attaching the hog rings. You want to make sure the material is pulled tight and the hog ring is securely fastened to the frame.

Overall, hog ring pliers are a simple yet essential tool for anyone working in the automotive upholstery industry. With the right pliers and technique, you can ensure a professional and secure finish to your upholstery projects.

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View the video here

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