Insider's Guide to Furniture & the Home Furnishings Industry

Jeff Frank is a 40 year veteran of the furniture industry who is happy to answer your questions about furniture! Ask your question today!

Any content, trademarks, or other material that might be found on the website that is not’s property remains the copyright of its respective owner/s. In no way does claim ownership or responsibility for such items, and you should seek legal consent for any use of such materials from its owner.

8 Way hand tied coil foundations are considered the "gold standard" for high end sofas. What are the advantages compared to lower cost foundations?

8 way hand tied coil foundations are an endangered species and may become extinct within the next 20 years.

8 way hand-tied foundations are by far the most expensive type of foundation used in upholstered furniture. The reasons for this include:

1) Installation of a genuine 8 way hand-tied foundation requires a highly skilled and experienced craftsperson.

The job is difficult, requires great strength and is extremely tedious.

It also frequently causes physical damage to the hands and fingers over time.

Many of the skilled craftspeople who build custom sofas using 8 way hand tied foundations are getting close to retirement age.

New apprentice upholsterers are extremely reluctant to take the time and effort needed to master this art.


2) "Drop-in" 8 way hand-tied units are currently mass produced by a number of manufacturers at a fraction of the cost.

These are drop-in coil spring foundations that look like 8 way hand-tied foundations but can be inexpensively mass produced using minimum wage laborers.

Few consumers are sophisticated enough to know the difference. Most of these drop-in units are perfectly adequate for high quality furniture.

3) 8 way hand tied foundations are extremely expensive and have no real added benefit in modern upholstered furniture.

For the first 100 years since they were first developed in the 1850s these foundations were essential for high quality seating.

This was because cushions were thinner and filled with non-resilient materials such as horse hair, down and feathers or cotton.

Early foam cushions were not as thick and firm as they are now. The foam was not as resilient.

With low resilience cushions when you sat on the furniture you would sink down all the way to the sofa deck.

Because of that it was very important to have a good strong comfortable foundation underneath.

8 way hand-tied coils were critical for a comfortable long-lasting couch.

Today's seat cushions are usually made with thick high resilience polyurethane foams or heavy-duty foam-encased coil spring systems.

The result is that you no longer "sink" into the cushions all the way down close to the decking unless you have a very thin cushion or are using a high percentage of down or feathers.

It is virtually impossible for even an expert to tell the difference in comfort no matter what kind of foundation is being used below the seat deck -- whether it is a $600 genuine 8 way hand-tied unit, a $150 "drop-in" coil foundation, a $40 elasticized webbing or a $20 no-sag spring.

Comments RSS feed for comments on this page

  1. Franz Rivoira Franz Rivoira Franz Rivoira, International (Europe/Asia) expert in furniture and furnishings

    What Jeff Frank has told you is spot-on. I just want to add my personal view about the context.

    What you are seeing above is the replica of the Louis Bleriot XI aeroplane which completed the flight over the English Channel in 1909.

    This thing, property of the Duke of York, flies.

    Of course you understand where I am getting.

    There are several techniques we have inherited from the development of our different industries, and for sure, this is one of them, as upholstery building is a quite old activity.

    But we cannot ignore the fact that the world of materials has developed, too, under the piush of new, innovative companies - and I am quite proud to say that an important part of this development has happened in Italy .

    What you see above is the iconic Up series armchair, by Gaetano Pesce for B&B some 50 years ago, which was shipped in a flatpack, and its internal foam activated by another component so to grow and fill all the organic shape provided.

    I am saying it again - 50 years.

    The materials used then have been changed for environmental reasons, so nowadays you receive the armchair as it is, but what I wanted to show you is that the creativity and innovations are at the base of the new design, and those are the elements that make the whole industry go forward. And no - this thing is as durable as it is costly, that is, really very much.

    This development of the polyurethane foams - pioneered by the creativity of the designers - has rendered possible things that could not have been done before.

    And thanks to those pioneers, nowadays we have several new materials which were unknown - let’s say - in 1850, like all the plastics and foams. With the final result that the and have rendered the application of a lot of these traditional tecniques obsolete.

    So, the end statement is that you can still use the hand tied 8 ways foundations to create your sofas, but nowadays there are many better ways to fly.
    Saturday, October 14, 2017
  2. Terry Frazier Terry Frazier I am 55 yrs old and built custom frames and 8 way hand tied all my working life and the truly fine furn does not use cushions so hard that you cant tell a difference in foundation there is suppose to be a happy balance so that they compliment each other using different gauge springs inside the cushions surrounded by a very soft ultra cell rubber then placed in a envelope type ticking with certain type feathers a good cushion will allow you to feel the high quality of 8 way hand tied furniture Sunday, September 23, 2018
  3. The author Thank you for your comment.

    In my experience most high quality spring down type cushions will have a soft luxurious feel but will still not compress enough to so that the sitter comes into contact with the deck of the sofa. I don't think there are many non-professionals whose bottoms are sensitive enough to feel the increased comfort added by the 8 way hand-tied foundation.

    On the other hand, I do try to make the point that any company (or upholsterer) who has the skills and spends the time to put genuine 8 way hand-tied coils into their seating, is probably producing an outstanding piece of furniture that is not compromising on the quality of materials and construction in the entire piece.

    You are younger than most of the upholsterers I have run into in recent years who build 8 way hand-tied seating. There seems to be a tremendous shortage of young upholsterers willing to learn the art (or even learning how to build a complete custom sofa.)

    It is also my experience that a high percentage of older upholsterers who have specialized in making large numbers of 8 way foundations develop severe physical problems with their hands and fingers which they link to the tremendous strength needed and the repetitive nature of the work.

    What are your feelings on these questions:

    1) What is the future of genuine 8 way hand tied foundations 10 or 20 years from now?

    2) Do you feel that young beginning upholsterers are still willing to take the time and effort to learn this art?

    3) Are you concerned about physical problems (including arthritis, tendon damage, etc.) that are so common to older upholsterers? Do you take any precautions? Tuesday, September 25, 2018
  4. Cate Davies Cate Davies Terry Frazier, I would love to have your opinion of a fine quality sofa manufacturer. The reviews are mostly negative for the furniture brands I have researched. I a not wealthy but definitely interested in purchasing the best quality I can afford. Thank you! Wednesday, September 26, 2018