How to repair a cane chair seat

Updated February 21, 2017

Cane is the bark or skin of the rattan palm. When woven, it is tough and long lasting. Yet it can still be punctured, stretched out or worn out. The good news is you don't have to throw out your cane chair. You can choose to renew, repair and/or replace your cane chair seat.

Repair small breaks in the woven caning on your chair seat, if you can duplicate the weave, and reglue it from the underside.

Renew the woven cane on your chair by turning the chair upside down and sponge washing the cane webbing with hot water and soap. Soak a towel in water and lay it over the back of the seat, without letting water get on the wood finish. When the towel is dry, the cane will have tightened up and become firm, hopefully looking good as new. No more saggy seat in your cane chair.

Remove the cane seat in your chair if it is ripped, discoloured or if it cannot be repaired.

Cut through the old cane webbing in the seat right down the centre with your utility knife so it won't be in your way.

Separate the old spline and webbing from the groove in the chair by loosening the adhesive with vinegar and then using the utility knife to score all the way around under the spline. Use the spline chisel to get out all pieces of broken spline or glue from the groove, then let it dry and sand it smooth.

Buy a sheet of woven cane 5 inches bigger all around than the size of the seat opening. Buy new reed spline to hold the cane webbing into the groove all around the seat frame. Two coils of 7-foot spline will be plenty for one seat frame. Cut it 2 inches longer than the perimeter of the groove.

Soak the new cane webbing in water until it is soft and pliant--up to 4 hours. When you remove the cane, the spline can be put into the water to soak. It doesn't need to soak for long.

Place the presoaked oversized cane webbing over the hole in the chair seat. Make sure the weave is aligned and centred and shiny side up. Use the hammer to lightly tamp the webbing into the groove with wedges.

Cut surplus cane from the outside edge of groove. Make a clean cut all along the groove with a sharp blade in the utility knife.

Make sure webbing is all the way down into the groove. The sheet should be pulled taught, but not too tight. Remember the cane will tighten and actually shrink as it dries.

Use any white, water-soluble glue to apply a bead of glue along the inside of the groove on the cane side.

Tamp the spline into the groove on top of the webbing and glue and cut off excess spline.


Using lemon oil will help to keep your cane seat flexible and will make it lustrous.


Leaving water or vinegar on the wood of your chair will ruin the finish. Don't allow anyone to sit on your newly recaned seat for 3 or 4 days, or it will stretch the cane out. Don’t ever allow anyone to sit on the seat if the caning is not completely dry, Renewing cane seating by soaking it and letting it dry will only work for 4 or 5myears after you install the newly woven cane.

Things You'll Need

  • Soap
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Utility knife
  • Sheet of caning
  • Spline
  • Spline chisel
  • White glue
  • Hammer
  • Scissors
  • Wood wedges
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About the Author

Linda Johnson is a veteran writer and Photoshop and Illustrator aficionado. She is a TV-radio producer, ad agency owner and a winner of Addy Awards and the First Place Award for Best National Public Service Film. In addition to Johnson's online work, her writing has appeared in "Poetry Guide," the "Indianapolis Star" and Indianapolis Dine magazine.