Chair Caning Supplies & Instructions

Updated February 21, 2017

Chair caning is a furniture-building technique used on wooden pieces of furniture such as chairs, tables and other pieces that have flat surfaces, seats or backs. Caning gives the furniture a natural, wicker-like appearance. There are two methods that are used to cane chairs. The first method is more difficult and involves weaving together individual strands of caning. The second method is much more simple, and can be achieved by do-it-yourselfers with a few basic tools. This method uses a sheet of pre-woven rattan webbing that is installed into a specially designed groove in the piece of furniture -- in order for webbing to be installed, the chair must have a groove specifically designed for this purpose.

Remove the part of the chair that you wish to re-cane -- usually the seat or the back of the chair. To do this, you will need to remove all the screws holding the seat or back together, and take it off of the rest of the frame.

Cut away any existing rattan webbing from the removed piece using a router. A router is a high-speed cutting tool. Be careful not to damage any of the wood frame as you complete this step.

Soak a sheet of rattan webbing in a bath of water for at least 20 minutes, and then place it over the hole in the piece of chair you wish to re-cane. Place the webbing so the shiny side is facing toward you.

Push the webbing into the groove using your wooden wedge. Push around the perimeter of the groove until the webbing is secured all the way around.

Cut off the excess webbing using a utility knife. Be sure to cut the webbing so it doesn't extend more than a few millimetres past the edge of the groove.

Insert a thin line of PVA glue into the groove on top of the webbing and wait for five minutes as the glue cures. PVA stands for Polyvinyl acetates. What makes this glue so good for projects like this is it does not have a smell, you can handle it safely without gloves, it has a neutral pH, it's flexible and dries clear.

Insert one end of the caning spline into the groove and hammer it in place. Splines are used to hold the webbing in the chair groove. Work your way around the perimeter of the chair, hammering the spline as you go. When you reach a corner, dampen the spline to make it more flexible. At the end, cut the spline and hammer the end into the groove to secure it.

Wipe off any of the excess PVA glue with a damp cloth and set the piece of chair in a location where it can dry naturally. After about 24 hours, reassemble the chair.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Router
  • Rattan webbing
  • Bath of warm water
  • Wooden wedge
  • Utility Knife
  • PVA glue
  • Caning spline
  • Hammer
  • Damp cloth
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About the Author

Elyse James began writing professionally in 2006 after deciding to pursue a career in journalism. She has written for "The Algonquin Times" as a general assignment reporter and published blogs and articles on Webcitybeat. James holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Ottawa.