Tips about chair caning

Just what is chair cane? 

Cane is made from the outside bark of the Rattan Palm, a tropical vine which is grown primarily in the Malay Peninsula, the Philippines and Indonesia. The thorny leaves are removed and the rattan peel (outer bark) is cut by machine to various widths for use in cane seating. The hard outer surface of the bark is glossy, creating a nice look on caned chairs

Machine woven cane can be used when there is a groove routed in the seat or back frame of a chair. The caning is tapped into the groove, and glue is added. Then you tap in a piece of bamboo spline. NOTE: You CANNOT put this type of cane into a chair with holes drilled in the frame rather than a groove. That chair will require hand caning. 

Strand cane is used when there are holes drilled in the seat or back frame of a chair. The pattern must be hand woven.

Caring for caned seats: You can extend the life of your newly caned seat by following a few simple steps. Cane is a natural fiber and will stretch when used. Being a natural fiber, it will only stretch so far before it will break. Preventing this is easy. Keep an eye on your chair seat. If you see that the cane is beginning to sag, it is time to act!

STEP 1: Turn the chair over and place a warm, damp towel on the underside of the cane. (It is important to do this on the underside since the cane has a natural coating on the top side which will prevent it from absorbing moisture.)

STEP 2: Allow the towel to sit on the cane for 1 hour. Then remove the towel and let the cane dry at room temperature. As is dries the cane should become taut again.

Staining cane is somewhat challenging because of the naturally shiny outside surface. The cane tends to repel stain rather than absorb it. If you want to age your cane a bit, just so it doesn’t look brand new, brush on an appropriately colored wood stain. We usually use teak or another light brown color. You may want to experiment with colors on scraps of cane left over after you cut your piece to size. However if you want a darker color, either because that is your preference or because you need to match other chairs in a set, you will need to do a 3-step process. It is always advisable to experiment on scraps to determine the correct combination of colors.

**Be Aware: Achieving a dark color and/or a specific color match is extremely challenging. Because this is a website and you are not in our shop, we can only give some basic pointers. The experimenting is up to you. Good Luck!

1. Brush the base coat onto both sides of the cane and wipe off. The spline will usually absorb more stain (therefore be darker) since it is a porous material.

2. Now you will need to apply color to the surface of the cane. This can be done either by use of a tinted lacquer that comes in a spray can or with straight color pigments (artist’s oil colors) that are brushed onto the surface area. If you use a spray product you may want to mask off the wood to protect it from “overspray”. Apply by lightly misting the cane, first in one direction and then in the other. If you use pigment out of a tube, apply with a brush. This method is very forgiving. If you get too much color it can easily be wiped off.

3. Once you have achieved the desired color, you will need to apply a clear finish to give some protection to your applied color. **YOU NEED TO WAIT 24 HOURS BEFORE DOING THIS STEP. Since this color is on the surface of the cane it will wear off as the chair is used. Applying a clear finish will help keep the color true for a longer time.