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.

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.

  • Max. Sewing Speed: 2000 stitches/minute
  • Max. Stitch Length: 9mm
  • Unit dimensions (LxWxH): 48 inches by 20 inches by 48 inches
  • Needle: DB X 1
  • 110V with quiet servo motor

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.

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.

  • Includes matte black clip
  • Writes at any angle, even in Zero Gravity. Simply the most versatile pen ever made.
  • Each Fisher Space Pen is precision assembled, hand tested, and carries a lifetime against all manufacturing defects
  • Each Fisher Space Pen is precision assembled and hand tested in the USA. Each carries an unconditional lifetime .
  • All Brass and steel construction


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.

  • Seam Rippers,2 Different Sizes,Multifunction,Meet Different Requirements.small stitch unpicker is 3.5 inch long and large stitch unpicker is 5.5 inch long (clear cap included).the longer fork of seam ripper is used for pick out the thread you have sewed, the blade is used to cut and remove unwanted stitches, open buttonhole,other uses.
  • Small sewing ripper: easy and convenient to get into those small places and undo fine stitching,The clear plastic cap can become an extension handle ,the large stitch ripper is sharp,it can cut multi-layer fabric very quickly and easily.
  • High Quality Thread snip length:115mm,the blade is made of imported stainless steel,with special heat treatment and precision grinding process which makes the blade sharper and more durable,innovative double-edged&replaceable blade design,compared with ordinary thread cutters,one piece of blade equal to two pieces,one piece of scissor can be used repeatly more than 4 times by replacing blades,cutting is easier and more desirable.
  • High Quality 5”scissor length :130mm,the blade is made of imported stainless steel,very sharp,become warped head design,easy cutting,remover stitch
  • This is a Very High Quality sewing thread remover tools,They won't let you disappointed.Package Included:4pcs seam ripper(2big+2small),1pcs double-edged thread cutter(Giveaway 2 pcs blade),1pcs scissor.

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.

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.

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.

  • 【4 Nozzles & 3 Spray Patterns】VONFORN 700W paint sprayer equipped with 4 size nozzles(1mm,1.5mm,2mm, 3.0mm) for most painting projects, such as furniture, pickup, walls, doors, garden tables and chairs etc. Can be adjusted to 3 different spray patterns: horizontal, vertical and circular, so that it can be applied to a wide range of application scenarios.
  • 【Unique Blowing & Cleaning Functions】Before spraying, you can use the dust blowing joint with the paint sprayer to blow away the dust/debris on the surface to get a better surface spraying effect. After spraying, connect the cleaning connector to the faucet to clean the residual paint inside the pipe for easy cleaning.
  • 【Easy to Use & Clean】The paint sprayer can be easily assembled with no tools, even if you are a beginner, you can easily get started after reading the manual. It is very important to clean the paint sprayer thoroughly after use, it comes with a cleaning brush and a needle to clean paint left in the nozzle part.
  • 【Adjustable Flow Control】The amount of paint output can be controlled by adjusting the flow control knob to suit a wide variety of projects. According to different spraying effect requirements, reasonable control of paint flow can achieve better effect and avoid paint waste.
  • 【What You Will Get】1X Paint Sprayer, 4X Size Nozzles, 5 X Paint Filters, 1X Viscosity Cup , 1X Nozzle Cleaning Needle, 1X Cleaning Brush, 1X Dust blowing joint, 1X Clean connector, 1X Pot lid,1X User Manual. If you have any questions, please contact us via your order, you will get a reply in 18 hours, our technical team and after-sales team are always behind you.
  • Ideal for automotive upholstery, foam and vinyl material.
  • Permanent bond
  • High heat resistant
  • Water resistant
  • Interior & exterior use

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.

  • 1/4 inch angle die grinder has a free speed of up to 20,000 RPM with 0.32HP motor, small size, and high power, suitable for working in tight spaces.
  • The 90-degree head design for reaching tight or angled grinding jobs, The pneumatic angle die grinder features a built-in speed regulator for better control.
  • Ergonomically designed, lightweight aluminum body with low vibration design to reduce hand fatigue,durable ball-bearing motor,rear exhaust.
  • Suitable for precision machining, grinding, engraving, polishing, smoothing, deburring, chamfering, and deburring.
  • Including 22 grinding discs for different purposes, ready to use.

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.

  • 【PROFESSIONAL】----- 5" Air Random Orbital Sander---high strength,durability, efficiency and easy to control.
  • 【 PERFECT PERFORMANCE】----- Built-in regulator for speed control of 12000 RPM to make your projects flat and smooth.
  • 【 VARIED APPLICATIONS】----- This dual action sander is ideal for auto body, furniture,wood, metal products, widely used for sanding, grinding, polishing and waxing and cutting, etc.
  • 【 PNEUMATIC SANDER】-----Air powered sander with hoop and loop pad which is easy to change sanding discs.
  • 【 PRODUCT DATA】----- Sanding pad: 5"; Max Speed: 12000RPM; Air Inlet: 1/4"; Working Pressure: 90PSI; Air Consumption: 4CFM.

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.

View the video here

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