How to Recane a Chair

How to Recane a Chair. Cane chairs are not only beautiful but they evoke a sense of history and craftsmanship missing from most modern furniture. For years cane chairs were made in the factories and sent out to weavers who would weave the cane seats and backs by hand.

Eventually someone invented a machine to do the weaving.mechanically. Prewoven cane makes recaning a chair a much simpler process, but it still takes patience and a steady hand to bring old cane chairs back to life.

Remove the Old Cane

  1. Cut the old cane from the center of the chair seat or back.

  2. Run the utility knife down both sides of the old reed spline between the spline and the groove which holds the cane in the chair. The spline is glued down in a special groove around the perimeter of the chair and the glued seal must be broken to allow removal of the old spline.

  3. Use a very small chisel or special recaning tool to pry the old spline out of the groove without damaging the wood of the chair itself.

  4. Drill small holes in the reed spline and fill with vinegar to soften the glue if the spline is stubborn and hard to remove. Allow enough time for the vinegar to soak into the spline to make removal easier.

  5. Clean the dust and remnants of the old reed spine from the groove with an old paintbrush or vacuum.

Get Ready to Cane

  1. Soak the prewoven cane and reed spline in warm water for at least 30 minutes (not more than 4 hours). to make it softer, easier to work with and prevent the cane from cracking during installation.

  2. Run a bead of carpenters glue in the groove all the way around the perimeter of the chair. Don't use too much. The groove does not need to be filled with glue.

  3. Lay the prewoven cane over the opening of the chair with the shiny side up and make sure it's even.

  4. Pull the cane as tight as possible without stretching it out of shape.

  5. Line the weave of the cane up with the edge of the front of the chair opening and make sure the pattern is as even as possible on the sides. If the back is a little off because the chair is not totally straight, don't worry; it won't really be noticed.

Install New Cane Seat

  1. Start caning by tapping a caning wedge down into the groove at the center front of the chair. This will force the cane into the groove where the glue will hold it when it dries.

  2. Place a caning wedge at the center back of the chair exactly opposite the wedge in the front of the chair. Tap the canning wedge into the groove of the chair.

  3. Repeat this process on each side of the chair, placing the caning wedge at the center of one side and then placing another caning wedge at the same place on the other side of the chair.

  4. Move 2 to 3 inches over from the center wedge on the chair front and place the next caning wedge at the same spot on the back of the chair. Repeat this process on the sides of the chair.

  5. Alternate placing wedges in the front and back of the chair just two to three inches apart until the front and back are securely installed. Repeat this process on the sides of the chair.

  6. Remove the wedges from the groove, taking care not to pull the cane out.

  7. Run a bead of glue inside the groove on top of the cane.

  8. Start in the center back of the chair and tap the new reed spline into the groove.

  9. Bend the spline around the corners if the corners of the groove are even slightly curved. If the corners are straight, measure enough spline to fit down each side and across the front and back of the chair. Cut each corner of the spline at a 45-degree angle so the pieces will match up when installed in the groove.

  10. Insert the spline on all four sides.

  11. Use a utility razor knife to cut away the excess cane.

  12. Wipe off the excess glue and let the chair dry for at least 24 hours. The cane will be tight when it is dry.


Sometimes, if you are very lucky, you can get one end of the spline loose and then carefully remove it all in one piece. This makes your job much easier but it takes patience!


Do not try to recane a chair using a razor blade. It takes a lot of pressure on the blade and if it should break you could suffer severe injury. A utility knife has a strong handle and if the blade breaks the handle should protect your fingers from injury.