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caning a chair

Chair Caning can be done with traditional weaving between holes or with pre-woven cane that is pressed into grooves around the chair seat.

Woven cane furniture dates back thousands of years with origins in ancient China.

Chair caning materials are sold in various sizes.

Steps for Re-caning a Chair Using Pre-woven Cane and the Pressed Cane Method Include:

  1. Prepping the cane and chair
  2. Installing the webbing into chair grooves
  3. Applying the spline.


Traditional caning of weaving decorative patterns between holes by hand has been popular for generations and still a preferred caning method for many. However, it is not easily done by the home crafter. It requires following a detailed pattern of weaving techniques and takes many hours to complete.

Pressed caning, on the other hand, where pre-woven cane is pressed into a groove in the chair, is faster and simpler and gives DIY’ers and first-time chair caners professional results in a little over an hour.

Weaving of Cane Dates Back 1000’s of Years

Woven cane seat furniture has graced homes for thousands of years with most historians tracing the origin to ancient China. It has been widely reported that a woven cane bed was found buried in Tutankhamun’s tomb dating to 1323 BC. The Chinese and Asians used cane for many purposes from furniture to warriors’ shields.

Cane furniture was introduced to Europe and England in the mid-1600s as a result of expanded trade to Asia. As manufacturing techniques improved in the late-1800s, cane was machine-woven for use in specially made chairs.

Materials and Sizes of Cane

Cane webbing or mesh seats are sold pre-woven and generally sold by the running inch. A number of patterns are available including open weave (most popular), herringbone, closed, box, radio net, and more modern styles.

caning kit

In addition to various styles of spline and seating, Van Dyke’s Restorers offers a Cane Webbing Kit that contains:

  • 18-in. x 20-in. piece of 1/2-inch cane webbing
  • 3 sizes of spline
  • Wood wedges
  • Instruction book

The kit is ideal for those trying chair caning for the first time or for seasoned caners. For those that prefer traditional caning, Van Dyke’s has flat reed, binder cane, and twisted rush in various sizes.


Steps for Pressed Cane Seat Installation

Cane and Chair Prep

  • Before using, the webbing and spline must be soaked for 20 minutes to soften. Do not over soak!
  • To prepare the chair, remove the old webbing using a utility knife to score along the edges of the old spline. Be careful not to cut the wood.
  • Break the spline using a wood chisel carefully going around the circumference of the chair. Remove the pieces of old spline.
  • Next, clean the grove with an awl to remove the old glue. Use a medium grid sandpaper to smooth the edges being careful not to alter the size or depth of the groove.

pressed cane

Cane Webbing Installation

  • Once the groove is cleaned, you are ready to install the new webbing.
  • Begin the process by placing the new pre-woven webbing over the seat.
  • You should have purchased your replacement seat with about a 2-inch overlap (four inches in width and four inches in length overall). You will trim this later.
  • Align the front row of the cane with the front edge groove. Make sure the cane pattern is lined up all the way around.

  • wedge cane

  • Begin inserting the cane by using a wedge and hammer to press the cane into the groove.
  • Most place a wedge in the center of each side to keep the webbing square and then complete a side at a time.
  • Working in small sections, press the cane all the way around the seat.
  • Once you are happy with the positioning of the cane, use a utility knife or very sharp chisel to trim the cane slightly below the groove edge.

  • chisel

  • Once trimmed, apply a narrow bead of wood glue all the way around the groove.

glue webbing

Spline Installation

  • Now, begin working the spline along the groove with a hammer.
  • Spline is sold in various sizes from 5/64” to 5/16”).

  • hammer spline

  • When the spline is inserted all the way around, overlap by about 2 inches.
  • Now angle cut the two pieces to make a flush joint and glue.
  • Remove the excess glue with a damp cloth.
  • Let the glue dry for 24-48 hours before applying a clear coat or stain, if desired.

Your chair is now ready for many years of enjoyment. If the seat begins to sag in the future, moisten the cane with a damp cloth being careful not to saturate the rattan. Allow to dry before using again. The sag should have tightened.

finished chair

Note: Our thanks to Greg Morgan of Morgan’s WoodWork Shop in Hope Valley, Rhode Island for providing the installation photos.