Whether you are looking for a DIY project or just a way to repair an old chair, here are some tips and tricks to help you get started.
To begin, start with a strand of splint reed that is slightly larger than the hole you are covering. Soak it in warm water for 15 minutes to soften.
1. Remove the Old Cane
If you are a DIY fan, you probably have an old chair you are trying to keep in your home that needs a little TLC. Maybe it is a vintage cane chair that you picked up at a yard sale, or one from an online community recycling page. Regardless of the reason, you want to repair the chair in a way that will keep it beautiful and functional for years to come.
The first thing you need to do is remove the old cane. You can do this with a chisel, a utility knife or a hammer and chisel. You may need to use a steamer or hot water to soften up the adhesive on the spline so that you can pry it up easily.
You can also use a drill with a special tool attachment, such as a Dremel. This will speed up the process of removing the spline and make it easier to clean the groove.
Once the spline is free, wipe away all the remnants of the old cane and glue from the groove. The groove must be completely clean and dry before you install the new cane.
Depending on the type of cane used in your chair, you will need to choose a different method for repairing it. Two types of cane are commonly used in chairs:
- Machine-woven cane
- Strand cane
Machines woven cane
For machines woven cane, the pattern is tapped into the groove in the seat or back frame of the chair.
For strand cane, the pattern is hand woven. To determine which method to use in your chair, look at the edge of the groove where the cane was originally tapped into place. If there is a ridge along the edge of the ridge, then the cane was originally pressed into place during manufacturing.
2. Cut the Cane
Chair cane repair is a DIY project that requires an eye for detail and some patience. The resulting seat will be both beautiful and functional. If you want to make your repairs look as good as possible, follow these chair caning repair tips and tricks:
First, remove the old spline from the cane mat using a sharp utility knife or box cutter. This step is a bit tedious and can be hard to do if the cane is tightly attached, but it’s important to get out the spline.
Once you have the spline out of your way, it’s time to work on cutting your strand cane. If you’re working on a round seat, start by cutting the spline at the back, where the butt ends meet, to avoid damaging the corners of your chair frame.
After you’ve cut the strand cane, soak it in warm water until it softens. This helps to make the strands more flexible and also prevents them from stiffening up during the weaving process.
3. Strand Cane
Once the strand cane is ready, take it out of the water and wipe off any excess water with a clean cloth or paper towel. Rinse your cane again to ensure that any leftover cane is completely removed.
You’ll need to do this with all the strand cane that you’re going to use for your chair caning repair project. It’s best to do this in the same area where you’ll be weaving your strand cane, so it’s easy to keep track of where to begin and stop.
When you’re done, the seat should be ready for a few hours of soaking and drying before you can sit on it. You’ll also want to give it a final rinse to clean up any residual cane and glue from the chair grooves.
4. Remove the Pegs
Once you’ve removed the old cane and cut the new cane to fit, it’s time to remove the pegs that are holding the caning together. This is an important step in the chair caning repair process because pegs can cause holes, warping, and even breakage if not removed properly.
To remove the pegs, you need a 17-mm deep socket with a ratchet and extension that fits over the axle nut on the peg. Turn the ratchet and socket in a counterclockwise motion until it is snug against the nut, then loosen it by hand.
5. Spline stripped
If the spline has been completely stripped of any old glue, you can also just apply a dab of wood glue to the end of the new cane where it overlaps the old cane under the seat. Then, lay the two pieces down and wait until they dry and shrink, eliminating any sag from the caning.
Then, use a pipe clamp to close the gap. This can be done in several different ways, depending on the size of the gap. To make sure that the chair doesn’t get damaged during this process, protect the chair from the pipe clamp with a few blocks of wood at either end.
Before attempting this chair repair project, you should check the rest of the chair for loose or missing parts. It is always easier to complete a chair caning repair project when the rest of the chair is in good shape.
6. Begin Weaving
Whether you’re restoring a family heirloom or rejuvenating a flea market find, chair caning is a meditative process with a fun and functional result. It’s also a great project to try out before you hire a chair caning repair shop to do work on your old furniture.
Once you’ve found a chair that needs work, start the project by removing the old cane and spline and cutting a new groove for the new cane to fit through. You’ll need a tool to help you cut through the old groove, such as a Stanley Sure-Shaver or rasp.
Then, you’ll need to begin the weaving process. Start with a strand of reed that is long enough to extend from the front rail of the chair to the seat. Route it around the back rail, then across the top and down under the front rail.
You’ll need to tuck the end of the reed under the warp strands. This tucking will create a “V” at the bottom of the seat that will give the chair a more finished look.
7. Weave in the first row
When you’re ready to weave the first row, flip the chair over and tuck the end of the first reed under the last three warp strands on the left side at the back rail. Then, repeat on the right.
For the first few rows, you’ll use an “under three, over three” pattern. This is similar to the stair-step pattern that you weaved in in the previous section.
Once you’ve completed the first row on both the top and the bottom, flip the chair over again to weave the second row. This time, you’ll “step back” one warp strand and go under two instead of under three. This will give you a herringbone pattern, which is a little different from the stair-step pattern that you used for the first row.