You want to learn how to cane a chair, right? You want an instructor who will spend time on the right way to do it.
So, today, Focal Upright is here to go over the basics of chair caning.
How to cane a chair
You’ll need these things for your chair caning project
Chair with trapezoidal shape (wider at the front than at the back) and straight seat rails. Pre-drilled holes are positioned around the perimeter of the wooden frame seat.
Binder cord 6 feet long, with a strand chair cane of 270 feet and a strand of binder cord 6 feet in length, depending on the project.
Place the chair on the work table. Make sure the height is right so you don’t have to bend.
- Measure tape, chair caning gauge tool, and/or cane conversion table
- 1-2 dozen chair caning pegs
- Dishpan or water bucket
- Small hammer, or tack-hammer
- Awl or Ice Pick
- 1/4” diameter wooden dowel rod
- Water-soluble white glue (hide glue) but not yellow glue for carpenters or gorilla glue
- Spray bottle
- Hand towel or bath towel
Helpful caning prep hints
You will need to find a chair that is sturdy and does not require any refinishing. The chair frames should have holes drilled around their perimeter.
A square or rectangular footstool is a good first piece of practice. If you don’t have one of these, a rectangular or square footstool is your best choice. A trapezoidal chair with 72 holes in the back and a wider front is also an option.
REMEMBER: The chair caning design is square-based, so the trapezoidal shape of the chair is the closest and easiest to understand.
Round chair seat seats, horseshoe-shaped and with more than 72 drilled holes, are the most difficult and should not be attempted as a first attempt.
You will need to cut any old cane from the seat with scissors, a utility knife, a sharp knife, or a box cutter. You will need a sturdy chair that is free from any old cane to begin your caning project.
Correct size chair cable to weave your seating
Measure center-hole-to-center-hole and diameter of holes to get the correct size of cane.
You will need to measure how big the holes are in order to ensure you use the right gauge. Also, measure the distance from one center hole to another neighbor.
Determine the gauge of caning material you need
Use a ruler to measure distances between holes (center to center) and the diameter of each hole to determine the gauge of caning material you will need. The gauge of cane that you need will depend on how large the hole is.
Take a 6-inch length of the seat rail and count the number of holes in it. If there is a partial hole within the measurement, count that as well.
For every six inches with the number of holes below the cane, you should buy the right-hand size cane.
- 12 holes = Fine Fine Caning material, 2.25mm
- 11 holes = Fine Caning material, 2.50mm
- 10 holes = Narrow Medium caning material, 2.75mm Cae
- 9 holes = Medium Caning material, 3.0mm
- 8 holes = Common Caning material, 3.50mm
Measure the distance around the seat frame using a tape measure. It is possible that not all holes were drilled correctly.
Assemble all necessary chair caning
You will only need a few tools to weave your cane seats. Most likely, you already have a few of them in your garage, toolbox, or house. Before you start, refer to the above list.
While I weave, I place the chair on a table at an adjustable height and sit on an antifatigue mat.
To ensure your arms are not tired, make sure that the chair is at an appropriate height. An anti-fatigue mat can save your spine, feet, and legs.
If you decide to sit rather than stand, make sure the chair is in a comfortable place and don’t bend over while you weave. Do we want to give you a sore back or fatigued feet?
Take frequent breaks from weaving. Stretch your legs, wrists, and neck. Move around and drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
Weaving a 7-step Hole cane seat
Step 1 – Laying the vertical cane strands
Take a few strands from the chair cane and wrap them in warm water for around ten minutes.
You should replace the cane strands that have been soaked with water every so often to ensure you always have enough.
You should not soak the cane for more than 15 minutes. Otherwise, it will begin to deteriorate and discolor.
Determine the center holes of balanced seat weaving
Find the holes in the front and back of the chair and place a peg into each to mark them.
If there are two holes in the center, choose one of the right-hand sides to peg. It doesn’t matter which one you choose; just be consistent.
Examine the strand for cracks or weakness. Cut any blemishes or discard the inferior pieces, especially if they are near the end of a strand.
While you are laying the foundation, select the longest strands that you can comfortably use.
Place one end of your strand in the hole at the back. Leave about 2 inches below the chair. To hold the strand in place, insert a peg into the hole.
Always ensure that the shiny, shiny side, which is the right, faces you. Place the long end of your strand in the hole in the front.
Next, grab the long end you just pinned and slide it through the hole to your right, still on the front rail. Then, come up from the bottom.
Once it reaches the top, you can take the end of your strand and bring it back to the back rail. This is located in the hole just to the right from the pegged hole.
REMEMBER: The glossy side of your cane between the holes in the bottom of the frame and underneath the chair should always face you.
You should always ensure that the “right side” of the cane faces you and not the “wrong”. This includes the top of the seat as well as the cane at the bottom of your chair frame, where it travels from hole to hole.
Short rows and symmetry of rails
There will be some rows for a trapezoidal chair. To ensure that the seat remains symmetrical, you should insert the right rail into the same hole as the left.
Keep the strands in the same direction as the rest. You’ll see that there is only one row per side of this sample chair.
REMEMBER: DON’T PUT ANY CANE IN THE CURRENT HOLES. They will be used later in STEPS #5 and #6 as you weave in the diagonals.
At this point, skip the four corners. Continue to thread the long end of your strand from the front to the back, all the way to the chair to its right.
Next, do the same with all the holes on either side of your chair.
Each strand should be pulled up, but not too tight. The cane should remain loose but not sagging.
You should allow for some flexibility, but not excessive.
REMEMBER: Because the strands were woven while they are still wet, they shrink when they dry.
You should not make the cane too tight at the beginning. It could shrink and crack the framework when it dries.
Step 2 – First horizontal cane strand
Continue to lay horizontal strands side-to-side, ON TOP OF, OR OVER STEP 1, that you just completed.
Continue to add strands as before, but keep them parallel. Do not add a cane at the corners.
Step 3 – Listing second verticals cane strand
This step will allow you to lay the second vertical strands from front to back, OVER STEPS 1 & 2, and slightly to the right of STEP 1.
Are you wondering what to do about all the “tails” that appear when you stop one strand and begin another?
Avoid tying knots at the ends of your chair to avoid having a messy, messy underside.
To eliminate ugly-looking chair caning knots, you can use an alternative method such as my “No-Knot System of Tying off Cane Strands” video.
Find out the best way to tie knots and finish the ends of your cane strands. If you have any “tails” left after weaving your seat, you can grab them when you attach the binder cord.
My “No-Knot” System for Tying Off Cane Strands will ensure that your chair cane chairs have virtually no knots on their undersides (or maybe one or two at most).
Step 4 – Second horizontal cane strands
The second side-to-side or course is the real weaving. Horizontally, alternate under-over weave through doubled/paired vertical rows or front-to-back.
You can begin weaving by placing a new strand either at the back or front rail. You can choose which is most comfortable for you. You can also start from either side.
Start weaving by laying the strand parallel to STEP 2. It should be at the bottom of your body or near it.
We will weave over and under these two pairs of vertical pairs strands. You will weave UNDER the strand to the left, which is STEP 1, and OVER that on the right which is STEP 3. Continue horizontal weaving until you have completed all rows.
Step 5 – Weaving first cane strands
The first diagonal course should be started in the upper left corner of the chair. This will involve weaving all the diagonal strands. It will be slanting from the lower left to the upper right.
Start this step by inserting a new strand into the hole in the left corner. This is the same hole that was left empty during all other weaving steps. As before, leave a 2″ tail below the seat and fix it.
Take the end of the long string and begin weaving OVER or front-to-back pairs.
If you are weaving on square seats, you will not end up in the back corner hole at the top right. You can go anywhere you want, but first make sure to go into the hole at the bottom and then continue on to the right.
Weaving the corner cane “fish heads”
You will reach the corner hole when you have completed your strand.
There will now be TWO diagonals at the upper-right corner. In the end, you will find two diagonals in this corner.
The corner where the diagonal strands cross is called a “fishhead.”
Step 6 – Second diagonal cane weaving
This will complete the weaving of the opposite diagonal which is at right angles with the first. All diagonals that run from the lower left to the upper right will be completed here.
Start this course in the lower right corner. Leave a 2” tail like before. Then, peg it and weave it up to the left corner.
Now weave OVER the HORIZONTALS and the strand of STEP #5. This is for the front-to-back pairs. Not just the pairs, but three loose strands will be covered at once.
Keep in mind that you must continue weaving until the diagonal course is completed.
Step 7 – Apply the cane binder cord strand
The final step in these chair caning instructions involves the application of the wide binding cane and “sewing” it in place.
This covers the holes and gives the woven cane chair seat a finished look.
For the front, back, and both sides, use separate lengths for the binder cane. Each piece should run from corner hole to corner on the trapezoidal chair seats.
You can cut them slightly longer than you need so that they fit into the corner holes at each end.
Start by attaching the front rail binder cord to the left corner hole using a peg.
Next, use a long-length weaving cane to place one end in the backside of the next hole.
The long end of your weaver should be looped over the binder cord, and then down into the hole’s front.
Next, place the long weaver on the bottom of the chair and bring it upwards into the next hole, which is the backside.
Turn the binder over and then slide the hole into the front.
Keep looping, moving to the right hole each time. Next, pick up any “tails”, and “sandwich” or incorporate them under the binder cord using the “No-Knot”.
The binder cord will be wrapped around all four rails of your chair. You’ll add the new length to each corner, and secure it with a peg.
Bonus tips for step 7
Binder cane and zero knots
You should also pick up any ends or “tails” as you go with the binder cord so that you don’t have too many to tie.
To secure the knot, tie any loose ends with a binder.
Binder cane cord corners
You can pin corners with a small piece of wood dowel rod, or a rattan reed. If it is a small area, glue is not necessary. You can also fold the top binder strand inside the hole over the bottom.
Pre-woven cane webbing is used for chair seats. It’s shown in traditional hexagonal openwork patterns.
www.seatweaving.com will send you free instructions so you can install this simple-to-use cane.
You can purchase cane webbing by the foot or a KIT for cane weaving if you need just one chair. This kit includes cane webbing and wedges, as well as easy instructions.