To determine how much cane you'll need, measure the distance from the center of 1 hole to the next and the width of a hole. These measurements determine the width of the cane you will need. Go to a caning supply store for a chart that shows which size you'll need (see link in Resources). Examine the weaving of the old cane still in the chair, if there is any. It can be helpful to have a diagram of the caning. Use a utility knife, ice pick and shears to remove the old seat. Clean off remaining debris.
Coil a few strands of cane and clip each with a clothespin. Place in warm water for 15 minutes. It will become pliable. Put a peg in the center hole in the front and back rails. If either rail has an even number of holes, start with the 1 to the right of center.
Choose a cane and run your finger across it. It will run smoothly in one direction. That's the direction you want to cane in. Insert 4 inches of the tail end of the cane in the center back hole and replace the peg. Feed the other end through the center hole in the front. Pull it tight and replace the peg. Feed the cane through the next hole to the right at the front of the chair. Hold the loop under the chair tightly and move the peg to the new hole. Bring the cane across to the back of the chair and weave it into the hole to the right of the one you started with. Secure with a peg. Feed it through the next hole to the right, as you did in the front. Keep working in this way until all except the back corner hole is filled. If you reach the end of a cane, start a new one, using another peg to hold it in place.
Repeat for the left side of the chair. If the front rail has more holes than the back, use short lengths of cane to go from the front to the sides, keeping the strands parallel and not covering other holes. Peg both ends.
Begin weaving a new strand at the back left side of the chair, using the hole just in front of the corner hole. Work across from back to front, using the same method as you did for the front to back. If a hole has a peg, remove it while you weave through, and then replace it.
Up-end the chair and clip loose ends to 4 inches. Tie off loose ends that are in holes with loops by wetting the cane. Use the ice pick to loosen the loop and slip the end under it. Bring the end around the loop and tuck it under itself and pull it snug. Repeat the front-to-back weaving, but start at the front rail. The new strands should rest a bit to the right of the initial ones. Do the right side, then the left side, as in the first weaving.
Weave from side to side again. These new strands should be in front of the initial side strands. Weave under the first strands you laid and over the ones you just completed. Use the ice pick to straighten the weave of the cane before moving on.
Begin weaving diagonally, starting in the back left corner hole. Weave under the front-to-back strands and over the side-to-side ones. End at the front right corner and thread under to the right rail hole just behind the corner. Weave diagonally to the back rail, still going over the side-to-sides and under the front-to-backs. Repeat for the opposite direction.
Choose a piece of binder cane (1 or 2 sizes larger than the seat cane) long enough to go all the way around the seat. Use a piece of regular cane to loop up through each hole and over the binder cane to secure it. Knot all remaining loose ends and trim.
Things You Will Need
- Chair (with a 12-by-12 inch seat or 72 holes)
- Cane, 250 feet
- Utility knife
- Ice pick or awl
- Sink or small tub
- 12 Wooden pegs
- Binder cane, 15 feet
- For more detailed instructions, see "The Caner's Handbook" by Bruce Miller and Jim Widess.
- Use a sponge to keep the seat wet whenever you work on it. It can dry out at other times.
- Make sure the shiny side of the cane is always facing up.
- Keep the loops tight and free of twists.
- Use the ice pick to help you weave through strands that are tight.