10 clever tips for cane seat repairs

September 2, 2015

Don't let damaged cane furniture discourage you from trying to repair it yourself. Prewoven cane can make the job surprisingly easy. Along with that useful DIY product, here are 10 clever tips to help make cane seat repairs a breeze.

  1. To fix a sagging cane seat, use a sponge to wet the seat from underneath (the underside is more porous and will absorb moisture better), then leave the chair out in the sun to dry. As the water evaporates, the cane will shrink and tighten.
  2. To make a template for a new round or square cane seat, tape a piece of paper over the frame and then run a pencil along the inside wall of the groove. Cut the cane about 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) larger than the paper pattern.
  3. When buying recaning materials, be sure to leave room for trimming. The prewoven cane you buy should be about 5 centimetres (2 inches) larger all around than the seat and your spline should be a few centimetres longer than the groove.
  4. Before you recane an antique, check the frame. If there's a groove running around the edges, then it was made with a prewoven cane seat and can be easily recaned. If it has evenly-spaced holes then it was hand-caned – a job for the experts.
  5. Scrub grubby canework with a solution of one tablespoon of salt mixed with one litre (four cups) of hot water. The salt helps prevent stickiness and keeps the cane from darkening. After scrubbing, wipe the cane with a clean cloth, then dry it with a hair dryer set to "Medium."
  6. Instead of sanding off loose fibres, try singeing them off with a propane torch while the cane is still wet. For safety, work outside and keep the torch in constant motion, using only the very tip of the flame.
  7. Carry cane chairs by their frames, not their seats. Don't expose them to dry air or direct sunlight for long periods, or use them as stepladders.
  8. The canework on old furniture is often coated with varnish. As varnish ages, it will start to peel off. Gently brush the canework with some steel wool to remove these scaly flakes.
  9. Use baking powder to clean up dirty canework. First wet the cane with warm water, then apply the powder with a paintbrush. When the cane dries, brush off the powder, rinse with cold water and let the piece air-dry.
  10. When dampening a cane seat, try to keep water off the spline. Water could dissolve the glue in the groove and loosen the spline.

Keep these 10 clever tips in mind and cane seat repairs will be that much easier.

10 clever tips for cane seat repairs
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