There are several ways of supporting the seat upon the frame of chesterfields but the "Cadillac" standard is the 8-Way Hand Tied Chesterfield. This 8-way technique does not come as standard when you purchase a Chesterfield sofa; it’s something which needs to be requested prior to order for an even better quality piece.
For fine furniture you need to have high quality materials so that the furniture will last for generations. You want to have a strong support system so that it will not sag or go wobbly when you sit on it. It should give you a comfortable seat enabling you to settle in and relax in a firm position while at the same time being able to handle various weights and sizes of bodies. It needs to last at least as long as the upholstery but preferably through multiple upholsteries.
Upholstered items utilize three main types of support systems. An example of the solid support system would be padding and fabric over a piece of solid wood like for a low end dining room chair. A tension support system is one with padding and fabric on top of webbing that has been fixed to the frame. It gives a little more comfort than the solid system but it isn't long lasting. The third system is a spring support system. There are sinuous or zigzag springs where steel springs are formed into a series of "S" curves and attached to the frame. They give flexibility of motion one way – up and down. They are less expensive to manufacture but not as long lasting. It is universally agreed the finest furniture is made of coil springs. Made of heavy gauge steel they are individually tied to the frame for freedom of movement when you sit down and for durability. They can be tied 4 ways but the best for comfort and durability is the 8-Way Hand Tied Chesterfield.
After the wood for the frame has been carefully chosen, assembled, glued and dried, webbing is stapled or tacked to the seat. It is woven in a sturdy over under pattern and fixed tightly to all sides of the frame so that it is a solid layer with no spaces. Then the springs are laid out in a series of rows so that the centers of the springs are in horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines with each other. This is very important as it will help determine the strength of the tie.
Also important is the rope that is used. The finest is a 4 ply ruby jute twine from Italy. This twine is waxed and strong and always used when constructing fine furniture. The twine is under constant strain and it needs to last as long as the 8-way tying does. In the 8-way hand made chesterfield process, not only is each spring tied to the frame but also the springs are all tied together so that when you sit down, multiple springs are helping the balance and the wear and tear is spread over several springs, not just one. The network of springs lasts longer as there is less stress put on just one or two springs. Plus the quality of the coils is of a higher standard and will also last longer than the sinuous springs. The coiled springs are then attached by hand to the webbing with a clinch-it tool which locks the spring to the webbing in at least three places. Then the tie ropes are stapled or tacked along the vertical lines from back to front.
It takes an apprenticed master craftsman to learn just how and where to tie the coil. There are many considerations, such as what kind of rope to use, how much to use and then how to knot the rope with the proper tension and spring height to create the firm base for the seat. Each spring is knotted twice on the vertical line – on both the top and the bottom of the spring. Extra rope is used to wrap around the rope ends near the frame so that all the knots remain uniformly tight so that it is impossible for them to slip. It also firms up the seat. After each spring has been tied off to the spring next to it in both a horizontal and vertical line down the center of the springs, you have a 4-way tie. Some upholsterers may loop the rope instead of knot it and stop after the 4-Way tie. But the most luxurious furniture ties knots, not loops, and adds extra knots on each side of the spring going in both diagonal directions. Instead of the original 4 knots per spring, you now have an additional 4 knots on each spring giving the finished look of an 8 pointed star. This is known as the 8 Way Hand Tied Chesterfield. Master upholsterers have used this technique for centuries. This system can last through 4 upholsteries or 80 or 90 years. Some 8-Way Hand Tied Chesterfields support systems have been known to last for 150 years.
It is because the quality is legendary. You can only get this kind of quality when it is hand made by an apprenticed master craftsman. It is a time consuming process but it is well worth it. This quality in an 8-way hand tied chesterfield is what is underneath the finished chesterfield. Remember, every step in crafting a chesterfield is hand made by apprenticed craftsmen.
The frame wood has been hand picked, cut, assembled and glued for perfection and endurance. The legs and arms have been hand French polished to the highest standards in the furniture industry. The multiple layers of padding and cushioning have been hand tied to the frame. Each piece of leather has been chosen for its grain and durability. The antiquing and finishing of each piece of leather has been done by hand. The chesterfield has been hand sewn, tufted and brass tacked to be the epitome of long lasting style and historic quality.
The 8-way hand made chesterfield is enduring. It can be passed down from one generation to the next and still look beautiful and remain sturdy and comfortable for many, many years.