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  1. #1
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    Replacement pad covers, DIY

    Why order replacement pads from full circle when you can diy for more money and way more time. I have not used a sewing machine since home ec in junior high, but have been talking about getting one so my wife bought one for the holidays. I previously purchased replacement pads from full circle for my hammer row and they are great, maybe a little softer than my legend bench pads. My hammer shoulder press had the pads replaced before I bought it, new vinyl just stretched and stapled. They did a good job but the blue color differs from the royal blue of my other pads so I decided I’m going to replace them. New pads from full circle are pricey since the back pad is long. I could find a local shop to do it, but why not diy. I pulled the vinyl off the old chest pad, which was a very poorly done diy before I bought it, from the hammer row to do some test seams. Will try to find royal blue vinyl and rebond (want to replace the padding too) locally or I’ll have to order some. Watched a bunch of YouTube videos too.


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  2. #2
    Registered User Lifts4longevity's Avatar
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    Awesome post. I've done the same thing myself numerous times with workout equipment. It's a great way to save bucks and get creative at the same time. The pics attached are of my bench pads that I completely scratch built from plywood, new foam, new restaurant grade metal flake glitter upholstery and marine grade upholstery for the border. I went all out and top stitched a "waffle pattern" into my pad covers, but less stitching means less threads to fail later.

    The second weight bench shown is what I bought for my GF for Xmas a few weeks ago, and the amazon reviews listed the seat bases breaking as a main complaint, so I just tore the padding and covers off and backed the factory MDF board up with some plywood I had, before re-padding/reupholstering the seat and backrest.

    She likes purple so I used the same metal flake upholstery as my own bench for durability (obviously in purple, not turquoise), but I had to stitch 2 seams on the seat cushion since I ran out of material and didn't want a seam right in the middle of the bottom pad (I could have skipped the sewing had I ordered 2 yards of material, but it was $30/yard!!!).

    Pics show how I converted the flat factory pad bases (MDF board) so the ends of each pad now wrap around the edge of the plywood/MDF. I like that look better than my own bench pads, but didn't have the confidence years back to experiment with upholstering my own bench in that manor. I will, however, use this technique when I scratch build my preacher curl pad attachment for my bench. There are many ways to recover pads, and you can certainly get professional results without sewing. Just my 2 cents.

    -Andy






    The GF's bench pads-Plywood base:


    1st layer of jute for smooth bump-free transition:


    4 layers of jute total, final layer covers entire top surface:


    Final layer-1" foam (medium density, IIRC) glued directly to top layer of jute, with 1/2" (green) foam glued to sides:
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    Last edited by Lifts4longevity; 01-06-2020 at 12:43 PM. Reason: Messed up adding photos
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  3. #3
    Registered User Lifts4longevity's Avatar
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    Sorry, couldn't fit all the pics in the first post.

    Purple metalflake (more of a metallic, less of a metalflake):


    Finished result:




    End caps made from plywood, wrapped in vinyl, then lag bolted to pads through plywood base


    Blue metalflake vinyl used to make ends look smoother.....Shoe goo'd into place for permanent bond


    Used plain black vinyl that was lying around to cover the back up (I screwed up the factory mesh backing material by tearing it and getting wood glue all over it.....WHOOPS!)



    Andy
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    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Lifts4longevity View Post
    Sorry, couldn't fit all the pics in the first post.

    Finished result:




    End caps made from plywood, wrapped in vinyl, then lag bolted to pads through plywood base


    Blue metalflake vinyl used to make ends look smoother.....Shoe goo'd into place for permanent bond


    Used plain black vinyl that was lying around to cover the back up (I screwed up the factory mesh backing material by tearing it and getting wood glue all over it.....WHOOPS!)


    Andy
    Thanks for the posts but your pics didn’t show. I do see your pic links. Maybe you closed the upload page too soon and the images didn’t stay uploaded.
    I’d like to see what you did with the back. For most of the pads the plastic back board is intact. However the plastic of the thigh pads on my new piece is cracked so I’m going to try something different, maybe vinyl covering a piece of plastic that I can cut to size.
    Just ordered the vinyl I want from sailrite. Did some test sewing tonight and will keep at it.
    I quote with pics. ()---() York Barbell Club #78 (DD) ()---()
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  5. #5
    Registered User Lifts4longevity's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EricAtl View Post
    Thanks for the posts but your pics didn’t show. I do see your pic links. Maybe you closed the upload page too soon and the images didn’t stay uploaded.
    I’d like to see what you did with the back. For most of the pads the plastic back board is intact. However the plastic of the thigh pads on my new piece is cracked so I’m going to try something different, maybe vinyl covering a piece of plastic that I can cut to size.
    Just ordered the vinyl I want from sailrite. Did some test sewing tonight and will keep at it.
    Really??? I can see my pics right now. I thought I checked my post for errors before I hit enter, but who knows with me. I'm not on this forum much and mistakes are certainly possible. What do the thigh pads look like that you want to recover...in other words, what is the actual shape of them? Flat on the back? Curved? Can you take a pic?
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  6. #6
    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Lifts4longevity View Post
    Really??? I can see my pics right now. I thought I checked my post for errors before I hit enter, but who knows with me. I'm not on this forum much and mistakes are certainly possible. What do the thigh pads look like that you want to recover...in other words, what is the actual shape of them? Flat on the back? Curved? Can you take a pic?
    Not the best pic, from the thread about the piece.

    Hammer strength pads come with a plastic backer, which is what full circle also uses. Legend uses nothing on the flat benches but does do something similar to what I’m describing on my 3 way bench. The plastic on the other thigh pad is cracked. So when I get around to recovering I will probably make a backer and wrap it in vinyl. I probably won’t be able to secure it to the pad itself, but will hold it in place with the mounting screws. I could glue it on, we’ll see. Thanks.

    I still cannot see the pics. If you uploaded them for these posts you should see the links in them. When I copied pasted the tagged image link there was an error message, “invalid attachment specified”
    I quote with pics. ()---() York Barbell Club #78 (DD) ()---()
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    Originally Posted by EricAtl View Post
    Not the best pic, from the thread about the piece.

    Hammer strength pads come with a plastic backer, which is what full circle also uses. Legend uses nothing on the flat benches but does do something similar to what I’m describing on my 3 way bench. The plastic on the other thigh pad is cracked. So when I get around to recovering I will probably make a backer and wrap it in vinyl. I probably won’t be able to secure it to the pad itself, but will hold it in place with the mounting screws. I could glue it on, we’ll see. Thanks.

    I still cannot see the pics. If you uploaded them for these posts you should see the links in them. When I copied pasted the tagged image link there was an error message, “invalid attachment specified”
    Hopefully reloading my pics did something. As for your project, do you need the plastic backers? Can you use masonite or something similar and attach it to the back of the pads with screws and trim washers, or brads/staples? That's a nice machine you have there! I wish I had room for more stuff in my home gym!

    Andy
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  8. #8
    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Lifts4longevity View Post
    Hopefully reloading my pics did something. As for your project, do you need the plastic backers? Can you use masonite or something similar and attach it to the back of the pads with screws and trim washers, or brads/staples? That's a nice machine you have there! I wish I had room for more stuff in my home gym!

    Andy
    Pics are there now, thanks for posting them. I know there is someone who is going to want a purple bench.
    I watched some videos of diamond stitching for motorcycle seats which looks very cool. I think the Panatta pieces have fancy stitching on their pad.
    I quote with pics. ()---() York Barbell Club #78 (DD) ()---()
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    After ordering replacement padding from Edge Fitness I'll probably never attempt a redo myself. Costly, but they seem willing to do custom sizes and the quality is nice. FullCircle was 'meh' from my single experience, I probably wouldn't order from them again because the padding just feels too soft. Didn't feel like it would hold up any longer than a DIY project.
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    Originally Posted by urbanlifter View Post
    After ordering replacement padding from Edge Fitness I'll probably never attempt a redo myself. Costly, but they seem willing to do custom sizes and the quality is nice. FullCircle was 'meh' from my single experience, I probably wouldn't order from them again because the padding just feels too soft. Didn't feel like it would hold up any longer than a DIY project.
    I like my full circle pads for my Hammer row, maybe a little soft. If it was on the flat bench I might not like it.
    I have been practicing sewing. If the covers I make don’t look up to par I will have them done by an expert.
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    Here is the practice cover I made using the old seat from my HS row, which is the same seat as the front pulldown. I had measured with the old vinyl in place so the fit is not great. My sewing machine is heavy duty, but not industrial so it seems to struggle a bit with the top seam, the stitch that goes around, since it has to go thru 3 layers of vinyl. In any case it looks pretty good. The good blue vinyl I ordered will be here tomorrow so hopefully I will have some time to work on things.
    Removing the plastic cover and all of the staples for the old vinyl was a major pia. For the recovered chest pad someone simply cut off the vinyl leaving the staples, now I understand why.


    Edit: not taking orders. Yet.
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    Originally Posted by EricAtl View Post
    Here is the practice cover I made using the old seat from my HS row, which is the same seat as the front pulldown. I had measured with the old vinyl in place so the fit is not great. My sewing machine is heavy duty, but not industrial so it seems to struggle a bit with the top seam, the stitch that goes around, since it has to go thru 3 layers of vinyl. In any case it looks pretty good. The good blue vinyl I ordered will be here tomorrow so hopefully I will have some time to work on things.
    Removing the plastic cover and all of the staples for the old vinyl was a major pia. For the recovered chest pad someone simply cut off the vinyl leaving the staples, now I understand why.


    Edit: not taking orders. Yet.
    That doesn't look bad at all! Your main issue with using a light commercial sewing machine is the fact you are limited by thread size and material thickness. The home sewing machines tend to produce really short stitching (even when set to 6 threads per inch) which is the last thing you want on that material your sewing. Make sure the stitches per inch adjustment is set to the lowest number the machine will allow.

    You might think about cutting your pieces of material, tacking them together, and taking them to an upholstery shop to be sewn together if you're unsure, but I don't think that's needed here. When I stitch something up quickly using my old hand-me-down home sewing machine (instead of my fancy industrial machine that is tucked away in the corner), I will sometimes add shoe goo to the backside of the material, directly over my stitch, if I feel the seam will see a high amount of stress and I don't want it to fail. Home sewing machines don't always produce the best results, but I have done plenty with mine and had good success with small projects like this. I have projects from 15 years ago that I figured would fail in a year or two, and I'm STILL waiting for them to fail before I redo them to a professional level. You're only out the cost of thread and materials, and your time. Cheap in comparison.

    When removing staples, I use a small straight blade screwdriver with a 90 degree bend on the very end, a small mallet, and a pair of needle nose pliers (if needed). I'm talking a screwdriver that 4-5" in length at the most. When installing any cover (weight bench, auto seat, furniture, etc), I always use a little heat (heat gun or pop the cover in the dryer for a couple minutes) beforehand so the cover is pliable (again, the vinyl I use most often is thicker for diner booths and such). A fast and dirty method of shrinking material, like for corners, is to heat the material up with a heat gun, work your hand over the wrinkle until it's gone/pulled taunt, and while the material is still hot, spray a fine mist or 3 of water from a spray bottle onto the material to shrink it (it will produce steam, similar to a professional Upholstery steamer). You can repeat multiple times, as needed. Test the heat gun on scrap first to see how tolerant it is to heat (before it melts!). There is a fine line between hot and too hot. Lol.

    As for your sewing machine not liking sewing that top stitch, unless you specifically like the look of a flat felled seam (it does look good!), you can skip that last step of adding the top stitch. It doesn't add any real strength to speak of to your seam. Oh, lastly, you mentioned stitched diamond pleat for motorcycle seats, and I remembered that years ago my dad bought some pre-stitched diamond pleat vinyl with 3/8" or 1/2" foam backing from an upholstery supplier for not much more than the cost of regular vinyl, and we did a camp trailer project with it. You could use that for your project and simply stitch your border (boxing) pieces of vinyl to the pre-stitched stuff. Trim the foam away on your diamond material where the seam allowances are (leave the threads alone though!) and you could easily use your home machine to complete a more sophisticated looking cover. During the sewing phase, I'd face the backside of the diamond pleat material up and put your boxing material facing down so nothing jams in going through the machine. Sorry, I got on a roll there bouncing random thoughts and ideas around. Keep up the good work and post pics of your covers when done.

    Andy
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  13. #13
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    Originally Posted by Lifts4longevity View Post
    That doesn't look bad at all! Your main issue with using a light commercial sewing machine is the fact you are limited by thread size and material thickness. The home sewing machines tend to produce really short stitching (even when set to 6 threads per inch) which is the last thing you want on that material your sewing. Make sure the stitches per inch adjustment is set to the lowest number the machine will allow.

    You might think about cutting your pieces of material, tacking them together, and taking them to an upholstery shop to be sewn together if you're unsure, but I don't think that's needed here. When I stitch something up quickly using my old hand-me-down home sewing machine (instead of my fancy industrial machine that is tucked away in the corner), I will sometimes add shoe goo to the backside of the material, directly over my stitch, if I feel the seam will see a high amount of stress and I don't want it to fail. Home sewing machines don't always produce the best results, but I have done plenty with mine and had good success with small projects like this. I have projects from 15 years ago that I figured would fail in a year or two, and I'm STILL waiting for them to fail before I redo them to a professional level. You're only out the cost of thread and materials, and your time. Cheap in comparison.

    When removing staples, I use a small straight blade screwdriver with a 90 degree bend on the very end, a small mallet, and a pair of needle nose pliers (if needed). I'm talking a screwdriver that 4-5" in length at the most. When installing any cover (weight bench, auto seat, furniture, etc), I always use a little heat (heat gun or pop the cover in the dryer for a couple minutes) beforehand so the cover is pliable (again, the vinyl I use most often is thicker for diner booths and such). A fast and dirty method of shrinking material, like for corners, is to heat the material up with a heat gun, work your hand over the wrinkle until it's gone/pulled taunt, and while the material is still hot, spray a fine mist or 3 of water from a spray bottle onto the material to shrink it (it will produce steam, similar to a professional Upholstery steamer). You can repeat multiple times, as needed. Test the heat gun on scrap first to see how tolerant it is to heat (before it melts!). There is a fine line between hot and too hot. Lol.

    As for your sewing machine not liking sewing that top stitch, unless you specifically like the look of a flat felled seam (it does look good!), you can skip that last step of adding the top stitch. It doesn't add any real strength to speak of to your seam. Oh, lastly, you mentioned stitched diamond pleat for motorcycle seats, and I remembered that years ago my dad bought some pre-stitched diamond pleat vinyl with 3/8" or 1/2" foam backing from an upholstery supplier for not much more than the cost of regular vinyl, and we did a camp trailer project with it. You could use that for your project and simply stitch your border (boxing) pieces of vinyl to the pre-stitched stuff. Trim the foam away on your diamond material where the seam allowances are (leave the threads alone though!) and you could easily use your home machine to complete a more sophisticated looking cover. During the sewing phase, I'd face the backside of the diamond pleat material up and put your boxing material facing down so nothing jams in going through the machine. Sorry, I got on a roll there bouncing random thoughts and ideas around. Keep up the good work and post pics of your covers when done.

    Andy
    Thank you so much. I have the staple removal Like screw driver which worked well, just that there were a ton of staples.
    On all of the pads I have the seam does not necessarily match up with the pad ridge. Meaning the seam is pulled down onto the side of the pad and not necessarily evenly all around the pad. With the shape of the seat pad in the picture I’m going to make a paper template to match the very top. I’m wondering if I should make the pad top slightly smaller to account for the stretch of the vinyl. Going to think about skipping the top seam. Have the machine set to 4mm stitch, about 6 per inch with a walking foot attachment. Going slow around the curves for the top stitch resulted in shorter stitches.
    This guy is a perfectionist:

    Very skilled guy with good tips

    Not sure if it is this video I wanted but it is by this guy, who uses heat, like several others:
    I quote with pics. ()---() York Barbell Club #78 (DD) ()---()
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  14. #14
    Registered User Lifts4longevity's Avatar
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    Yeah, you might have to shorten the top piece slightly to make up for the vinyl stretch, but also the padding material may be too soft and could account for some "give." You can fill the top edges with a layer of foam or cotton batting, or even glue 1/2" foam around the perimeter of the sides.

    Just make sure any stops or starts (edges butting up) are on the least seen side, and don't stop at the corners to join two edges (that one corner will have more "give" and not share the same radius as the others). Also, you can use the handwheel on the side of your sewing machine manually to stitch around the corners and keep the stitch length even. Turn the handwheel towards you. Have a helper turn it while you hold the two pieces being stitched together (or apart, in the case of your top stitch possibly becoming uneven in the corners), if need be. Other than that, I think you've got this.

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  15. #15
    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    Did a final practice cover, came out pretty well. Sides are too short to try to stretch. My royal blue vinyl came in today from sailrite so hopefully I can get started although I need to work all weekend. Still not ready to take orders.
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    Looks good! What next? Sandblasting and powdercoating in the backyard? LOL...
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  17. #17
    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    Finished first cover. It only has a few staples in it since they are not setting well with my electric. May need different staples or a pneumatic.
    Here it is sitting on top of my legend bench.
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  18. #18
    Registered User Lifts4longevity's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EricAtl View Post
    Finished first cover. It only has a few staples in it since they are not setting well with my electric. May need different staples or a pneumatic.
    Here it is sitting on top of my legend bench.
    SWEET!!!!! Looks factory, can't ask for more than that! Might have to try shorter staples like 1/4" or 5/16" if you are using long staples. Also, if the base is MDF, that stuff can be tough to staple into too with a mechanical (or in your case, electric) staple gun. Great work on the stitching and fit up!

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  19. #19
    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Lifts4longevity View Post
    SWEET!!!!! Looks factory, can't ask for more than that! Might have to try shorter staples like 1/4" or 5/16" if you are using long staples. Also, if the base is MDF, that stuff can be tough to staple into too with a mechanical (or in your case, electric) staple gun. Great work on the stitching and fit up!

    Andy
    Thank you very much Andy. The corners are tough so had to go very slow thru them. I’m using 1/4” staples in a Stanley tre500 electric. Last night I realized there was an adjustment knob to fire the staples in deeper which seemed to work, although I only put in 4.
    I quote with pics. ()---() York Barbell Club #78 (DD) ()---()
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  20. #20
    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    Chest pad for HS pulldown. It’s not staples/stretched yet. Not sure what I’m going to do with the backs yet. For this one I got the plastic off intact so I may just staple it back on.

    Still not taking orders but thinking about it.
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  21. #21
    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    One seat done, just a few staples in it which is good because the cover is a little off center. Getting better.
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  22. #22
    Registered User irongrandpa's Avatar
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    Eric, you work is awesome! You're on spread but, reps to you. I've had pads made locally from two different upholstery shops which have both since closed. Looking for a local place to get them, I don't have your skills or equipment for this kind of DIY.
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  23. #23
    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by irongrandpa View Post
    Eric, you work is awesome! You're on spread but, reps to you. I've had pads made locally from two different upholstery shops which have both since closed. Looking for a local place to get them, I don't have your skills or equipment for this kind of DIY.
    Thanks grandpa. Like anything you need reps, and the more I make the better I get. If you need covers I can make them for you. You pay shipping, that’s all.
    I quote with pics. ()---() York Barbell Club #78 (DD) ()---()
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  24. #24
    Registered User TheShadowMan's Avatar
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    Dang long, those purple covers are awesome. I wish more companies would put out bench covers that looked like those. Solid work indeed, repped.
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  25. #25
    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    I got 4 of the pads installed on the Hammer chest back I recently picked up. Still working on the thigh pads since the plastic backings on those were destroyed. I’m pretty happy with how they came out. The original foam was pretty good on all of these, but less than perfect. For the back pad the top foam had angled rather than rounded corners for the top foam with rounded corners for the piece underneath. Working on the shoulder press pads now.
    Before


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    Registered User TheShadowMan's Avatar
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    Lookin sleek with the blues, brand new.
    Back to basics full body routine: https://pastebin.com/5BgKgrMv

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  27. #27
    Registered User Lifts4longevity's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TheShadowMan View Post
    Dang long, those purple covers are awesome. I wish more companies would put out bench covers that looked like those. Solid work indeed, repped.
    Thanks ShadowMan, I appreciate the kind words. I wish a lot more companies made better bench covers too, but since they don't (and I'm poor anyway!), I started making my own. I forgot to take pics of the purple bench when I had it outside in the sun, but it looked way better than it does in the pics I posted. My GF sent the pics from her phone and her dark living room doesn't do the upholstery justice.

    I also built her an aerobic stepper and covered it in the same upholstery, only in blue instead of purple. Gives you a better idea of how shiny and deep that vinyl is. Looks cool, but I also like how durable it is. Too bad the cost of it has skyrocketed in the past few years.

    Andy



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  28. #28
    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    Far from perfect but I’m getting better. Now I just need to do the back pad and finish up the top covers for the thigh pads.

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  29. #29
    Registered User EricAtl's Avatar
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    Finished. Except for tops of thigh pads. My DIY covers are far from perfect but when I compare them to my legend covers you would be hard pressed to tell the difference. An industrial sewing machine would definitely make sewing these easier and faster. Maybe I should have swapped out to rebond with even cuts vs the existing foam which was probably not cut well to begin with and a bit deformed with age. Now I need to buy more equipment so I recover more pads.

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    I quote with pics. ()---() York Barbell Club #78 (DD) ()---()
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  30. #30
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    Looks phenomenal! Strong work!
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