Information on How to Make Split Bottom Chairs

Madeline Masters

Split bottom chairs, also known as splint chairs or woven chairs, are usually made with split cane, bark strips or reed. The splint strips are woven to create a flexible seat bottom for the chair. There are many different patterns of weave you can follow when making a split bottom chair. Use a four-legged, wooden-framed chair with a seat frame and rungs to make a simple basket weave seat.

Here, the seat is woven in a diagonal pattern.

Step 1

Soak the splint in water for 30 to 45 minutes to soften it. Gently pat it dry before weaving.

Step 2

Tack the first strip of splint to the underside of the back rung, in the right corner.

Step 3

Weave the strip of splint from this point over the back rail and across, to the top of the front rail, then under to the back. Continue wrapping the frame with splint in this manner until the seat area is filled with vertical, parallel strands of splint. Keep strands close together but not overlapping.

Step 4

If the chair has arms, remove them before weaving if possible.

End the strand on the underside of the seat so the end will not show in the final product. If one strand does not wrap the entire seat, tack it to the underside of the rail closest to where it runs out, trim, tack a new strand to the underside of the rail and continue wrapping. You should now have a chair bottom filled with parallel strips of splint in two layers -- top and bottom.

Step 5

Begin weaving the cross pattern into your chair seat. Tack the first strand of cross weaving to the underside of the right and back corner, and weave from right to left. Weave the strip in an under-over pattern through the top layer of splint until you reach the left side.

Step 6

Turn the chair over and continue weaving in the under-over pattern through the bottom layer of splint. Flip the chair back again and continue weaving on the top layer. Repeat until the chair frame is filled from back to front and on top and bottom, with the cross weave pattern.

Step 7

Your split-bottom chair is ready for relaxing evenings on the porch.

Secure the end of your weaving strand to the chair frame with a tack. Test the chair bottom to make sure no strands are loose and the chair is safe for sitting.