Re-cane a cane seat: an easy how to

Cane seats can add an old-fashioned air any room in your home. But the cane webbing on these chairs sometimes gets damaged or worn out. Here's an easy how to for repairing your cane seats and restoring that vintage feel.

What you will need

  • Utility knife
  • Awl
  • Pre-woven cane
  • Mallet
  • Wooden wedges (plain and blunt tip)
  • Chisel (well-sharpened)
  • Spline
  • White PVA carpenter's glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Clear lacquer sealant and brush
  • Vinegar and water (if required)
Re-cane a cane seat: an easy how to

1. Pry out the spline

  • First take out the spline that secures the cane to the seat.
  • Use your utility knife to score the spline on both sides, breaking any bond with the surrounding glue or finish.
  • Pry out the spline with your awl
  • Soften troublesome glue with a 50:50 solution of vinegar and water if necessary.
  • Remove the cane, then scrape out the groove to remove all glue or finish residue.

2. Fit the new cane

  • Soak your new, pre-woven cane in water, then lay it over the frame, glossy side up, so the weave is parallel to either the front or back edge.
  • Tap a wooden wedge into the centre of the groove along the back edge, then lightly stretch the cane towards the front edge, wedging it in the centre of that groove.
  • Repeat for the left and right sides.

3. Get into the groove

  • Use your mallet and a wedge with a blunted tip to tap the cane into the groove, working first along the back edge of the frame then the front, then one side and then the other.
  • Remove the central wedges and use a sharp chisel to cut off the cane that's sticking out just below the top of the outer edge of the groove.

4. Secure with spline

  • On rounded seats, use one length of spline; on square seats, use one piece for each side.
  • Measure your dry spline against the groove, then use your chisel to cut the ends at a 45 degree angle.
  • If necessary, soak your spline to make it pliable, but be careful not to over-soak it.
  • Place a bead of PVA carpenter's glue in the groove and gently press the spline into place.

5. Seal the seat

  • Tap the new spline into the groove with your wedge and mallet until it's flush with the surface of the frame.
  • Let the seat dry for 24 hours, then lightly sand the cane to remove any loose fibres.
  • Starting with the underside, seal both sides of the seat with a clear lacquer sealant.

Follow this easy how to and you'll be on your way to repairing your cane seats like a pro.

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