We have found a mallet to be a very useful tool in our shop. It has many uses when reupholstering.
We prefer a rawhide mallet which is stronger than a wooden or rubber mallet. One rawhide mallet we have is 35 years old. It is still in good condition. It has been used almost daily.
We have a second mallet and put a heavy fabric cover on one of the heads, as shown in the picture. When we need to pound directly on the fabric that we are applying to a chair, we use the padded head so the fabric won't be damaged. Sometimes it is necessary to pound directly on the fabric without damaging it.
For example, when applying pre-nailed tack strip, we use this mallet to drive the nails into the frame. Also, when setting the curve ease, you will need to pound directly on the fabric.
We have observed some people pounding directly on the fabric with a tack hammer or a regular carpenter's hammer and damaging the fabric.