How to Weave Chair Bottoms
To make your own chair bottom, select a durable material that is recommended for weaving, such as cane, which comes from the outer bark of the rattan palm plant and gives a flat natural appearance. You can also use rattan, which is rounder like bamboo, but not hollow; it's solid and very strong. Traditional hand-caning creates a pattern of octagonal holes that forms a tight weave on the chair bottom when strung and secured properly. Little care is needed for a natural cane chair bottom other than an occasional misting of water to keep your cane from drying and cracking.
How to Weave Your Own Chair Bottoms
Cut the strands of cane or rattan into easy-to-work-with sections, about 20 feet long. Soak each section of cane or rattan in the pan of water for 10 minutes to soften the material and make it more flexible.
Begin at the middle of the back of the chair and push the first strand down through the hole. Let 3 to 4 inches hang down under the chair. Cane has a glossy side and a flat side; make the glossy side face-up. Rattan looks the same all the way around. Push a wooden peg into the hole to hold the strand firmly in place; bring the strand across to the front and down through the middle hole. Pull snug and place a wooden peg in this hole. Run the strand under the chair to the hole directly beside the back middle hole where you started. Take it straight across to the front. Repeat this action, removing the wooden pegs to reuse, except for the first one.
When you have covered all the holes, cut the cane with your razor, leaving about 4 inches of length from the end. Wrap the end around an adjoining loop on the underside several times. Tie off the beginning strand as well in the same manner. Continue the same procedure with the sides of the seat and weave up and over the parallel strands until you have a checkerboard effect; tie those ends.
Begin the third layer at the left-hand corner and follow the cane or rattan from the first layer, weaving in and around the second layer until you reach the end at the opposite corner. Tie off the ends. Start the fourth layer at the top of the right side, weaving in the same holes as the second layer, over the third layer and under the first.
Weave in a diagonal pattern, beginning at the right back corner and string toward the opposite front corner. Weave over two vertical strands and under two horizontal strands until you reach the end. Continue weaving horizontally until the entire surface has been covered.
Reverse the diagonal weaving by weaving under two vertical strands and over two horizontal strands. With each completed layer, secure the ends.
Lay your binding flat around the edge and wrap the weaving cane through the holes in the chair and your pattern holes close to this edge and securely wrap underneath.
Things You Will Need
- Hank (1,000 feet) 1/4-inch medium cane or rattan (enough for 4 chair bottoms)
- Hank (500 feet) binding cane
- Razor blade and a blade holder
- Chair with open bottom, 1/4-inch holes drilled around exterior of opening, spaced 3/4-inch apart
- Long pan water (wallpaper dipping pan works well)
- Wooden pegs, 2-to-3 inches long that fit snugly in exterior 1/4-inch holes
- If your cane or rattan begins to dry out, use a dampened sponge to keep it moist and flexible.
- If you are new to weaving with cane or rattan, wear protective eyegear.