Rattan is often bent to make furniture and other objects. One of those objects is a walking cane. Typically the cane will have a hooklike bend at one end and a padded tip at the other end. The hook makes it comfortable to grip the cane when a person walks, and the padded tip cushions the end of the rattan to reduce wear and splitting of the wood. The padding also makes the stick grip the surface easier to reduce falls. Bending the rattan to create the hook shape is hot work but not too hard.
Grind the end of a rattan stick using a grinder to smooth out the end and shape it so that it has a softly curved edge. This end of the rattan will be worked into the hook. Sand the rattan to make it as smooth as possible with sandpaper.
Make a jig to bend the rattan. A jig is a tool or form that a shaper uses to bend something to that shape. Draw a circle the size of the cane hook on the flat side of a 2-by-6-inch board scrap. A sauce plate is about the right size for the circle. Cut half of the curve using a jigsaw. You want the curve to end where the straight part of the cane will begin.
Clamp your jig to the worktable so that the curve is away from the edge. Clamp the smoothed end of the rattan to the worktable so that the end of the rattan is tight to the end of the curve. The jig and the rattan end should be very secure.
Light a propane torch and turn the torch to medium flame. Put on eye protection. Put on heat gloves and do not allow anyone to stand behind the ends of the rattan as hot steam may exit from these ends.
Heat the rattan by moving the torch over the area closest to the tip that you want to bend first. Do not hold the torch in one place but keep it moving. Hold the long end of the rattan in your heat gloved hand. As the rattan heats up, bend it around the jig. Do not worry about discolouration of the rattan but don't burn the rattan either. Continue heating and bending until the curve is complete and the rattan's long section is straight and going in the direction and alignment you want. Remove the cane from the jig. Allow the rattan to cool completely.
Grind the nodes and end of the rattan with a grinder. Sand down with sandpaper to remove any discolouration and to smooth out the entire surface of the cane. Paint, stain or finish the cane in a manner you like. Add a rubber tip to the end before walking with the cane.
Things you need
- Rattan stick
- Grinding wheel
- Sanding disc
- 2 by 6-inch scrap board
- Wood clamps
- Propane torch
- Eye protection
- Heat gloves
- Paint, stain or finish
- Rubber tip