Chair Caning Instructions

   

My Father-in-law provided me,  in the mid '70s, with the encouragement and instruction on how to cane chairs.  He was a patient teacher & I enjoyed learning the craft.  Over the years, I have caned many chairs, and many different styles of chairs. I would like to share with you the "Art" of caning, to pass on the knowledge as my father-in-law did with me.  (Click on any small picture within these instructions to see an enlarged picture).

I was President of The SeatWeavers' Guild, Inc. from 2011-2013, now moving to the position of Past President for board of directors purposes.  I am also a Charter Member of TSWG and active in assisting all chair caners & seat weavers with their projects. I have also taught caning classes, demonstrated at antique shows & displayed my seat weaving projects.   

If you have questions: contact me at: wayne.sharp@mnsu.edu  or  at my Mankato Minnesota home at 507-387-1367.

Chair Caning: Seven Step Method
This is a method of weaving cane to build a comfortable seat & back of chairs. It's name is self-explanatory in that there are 7 steps in the process. To people trying to differentiate chair styles, I also call this process "hole caning" because it's easier to understand, when they see the holes in the wooden rails that form the chair seat. This is the most common pattern of chair caning.

Preparation
Tools, Cane, Planning Caning tools

The Seven Steps
Step 1.  Back to Front, First Vertical Cane.

Step 2. Side to Side, First Horizontal Cane.

Step 3. Second Back to Front

Step 4. Second Side to Side (Weaving Starts Here)

Step 5. Diagonal (Upper Back Right to Lower Front Left)

Step 6. Second Diagonal (Upper Back Left to Lower Front Right)

Step 7. Border

Finish-up.

Chair Caning Album, showing different styles of caned chairs.

Sorry, the following booklets are out of stock & printing costs are now too expensive.  Please print the instructions from my website, for your personal use. If you like what you see in the website, please send $5 for your personal use of these instuctions.  
For commercial use of these instructions, please acknowledge my intellectual property & send $20 for its use. 

Send to:  Wayne Sharp, 301 Cameo Lane, Mankato, Mn 56001.

1. Chair Caning Instructions; The Seven Step Method
 16 pg, 22 color photos 
2. Chair Caning Instructions; Daisies & Buttons  16 pg, 26 color photos
3. Chair Caning Instructions; Spider Web A
  16 pg, 24 color photos
4. Chair Caning Instructions; Pressed Cane   16 pg, 14 color photos

If you like this website, but have a hard time using the website while also caning. Then PRINT the Booklets!  
 
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Advanced Caning Patterns. I finally came across a book of advanced caning techniques & also a rocker that was similar in style. So I took a deep breath & tried a more difficult project. It was challenging, but also a great success. So again, I will share my experiences with you.  Good luck, if you are daring.

Daisy & Buttons Pattern This is a beautiful pattern on the right chair.
         This chair won a First Place ribbon at the 2004 county fair.

Spider Web A Pattern  This is a very interesting & beautiful pattern, but also a real challenge.
        This chair also won a First Place ribbon at the 2004 county fair.

Diamond Pattern  Helen sent pictures & a quick instruction set on this pattern to add to our collection.

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Pressed Caned Instructions. This was another first for me. I have received many emails from people searching for Instructions for Pressed Cane chairs. I had read how to do it, but had never tried it. Well now I have. Here's my Pressed Cane Story.  New Additions are now included in this section.  Including more Advanced Pressed Caning Practices.

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Restoring & Caning Rockers.  I love working on Rockers. I find them both beautiful & comforting to use. This summer, 2004, my wife & daughter both found "rocker projects" to keep me busy.  They found 2 child's rockers, an ornate adult rocker & a sewing rocker. Three of them have cane seat & back.  All of them needed varying amounts of  repair & refinishing, before re-caning. I will use these four rockers to try some new techniques, including curved seat/backs; pegging & couching.

This section of my website is to chronicle the year 2004-2005 work on these four rockers. Hopefully we will learn some new things from this journey.
1. Child's Rocker - refinishing & re-caning.

2. Barrel Curved Child's Rocker - refinishing & re-caning. Curved seat & back.

3. Ornate Rocker - refinishing & re-caning. Large traditional seat & fancy caned back

4. Sewing Rocker - restored from a pile of lumber; had to repair joints, remake stretchers, refinish & finally cane. My daughter wanted the Spider Web cane pattern. See if that's what she gets.

Success!  Here are the 4 completed projects, finally finished in March 2005. These were fun projects, ranging from medium difficult to very challenging. I learned many new techniques.  Having taken each of these rockers from stripping, to repair, to refinishing, to caning; I felt a tremendous amount of success & joy, when completing each rocker. I hope you enjoy reading this edition of my caning story & could follow the challenges & successes I encountered.
   

Of course the best part of these projects, is that they are intended to be enjoyed by my family. Here's my granddaughters at Christmas 2004. They fit just nicely on the children's rockers.

 

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More 7-Step Caning Instructions:
Classic Chair
This chair is the simplest & classic of caning designs. I used this project to refine & refresh my 7-Step Chair Caning Instructions.  New in this section are some tools & techniques, definitely worth the time & effort to create for you, the caning community.

Lincoln Rocker Fall 2009
I love doing rockers for their beauty & comfort.  But they can also be difficult, with multiple curvatures, both convex & concave. I used this project to test several caning techniques.  New in this section are some Knotless techniques, Caning Needles & efficiency techniques.  Definitely worth the time & effort to create for you, the caning community.
Lincoln Rocker

Comparing Old Techniques to New & Improved Techniques.  Usage of "X", Knotless (minimizing knots) comparisons on Lincoln Rockers.

comparing Lincoln Rockers

 

Summer 2013  - My first Wicker Project

I've previously been asked if I do Wicker Work.  I've always said "no", because I never had been shown how.  My wife was asked by a church quilter friend if I could work on her 84+ year old child rocker.  I said I would take it to The SeatWeavers' Guild, Inc. Gathering, and ask for advice.  All the advice from the experienced seat weavers was positive & I was given a book on Wicker Repair.  This helped build my confidence greatly.  The Wicker Rocker had most of the back missing, but enough still there to suggest a pattern.  There were also pieces missing on both sides.  I read the book.  I measured the size of the wicker needing to be replaced, doubled my length estimate & placed my order.  (It turned out to be good that I doubled my length estimate, because I used almost all that I ordered).  The supply house was nice enough to only send partial roll of wicker in the sizes I needed, instead of requiring me to buy the whole coil.  I needed #5 & #7 wicker.

I soaked the wicker for at least an hour in warm water to provide the flexibility needed to form the sharp corners.  Perhaps the wicker could have soaked even longer.  I wove the pieces over a two day period, so some dried in place, before more wet wicker was added.  This didn't seem to be a problem.

After weaving, I scraped the old paint the best I could & repainted with a primer & paint in one application.  The owner wanted all white.  However, scraping the layers of paint revealed the balls on front rung were painted an tourquise & the balls on back & handle were yellow.

I am very pleased with the results & so is the 84 year old owner.  I look forward to more wicker projects.
Completed Wicker Child Rocker

Fall 2005 Project - Darci's Chairs

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Spring 2008 Projects - Nan from St. Paul
4 Chairs & two Rockers that took me most of the spring to accomplish, but also provided a great deal of variety & difficulty.
         From L->R,  1 classic bedroom chair (with plugged holes & re-drilled slightly off center),  1 round chair (that had been converted from pressed cane previously),  1 Victorian rocker (stained the seat to match the back which didn't need replacing), 1 Ornate rocker (knotless curved back & seat), 2 Chairs were pressed cane (one proved very difficult to remove old spline because of glue).  A great feeling of accomplishment when all these were finally completed & the owner loved the results.

 

Winter 2009 Project for Nan from St. Paul
4 Chairs that took me a few months to accomplish.
         The chairs were similar, in that 3 were round seats with hips & 1 was the classic round front/square back chair.  Some refer to these type chairs as a dining chairs. There were several repairs in the wood & hundreds of little nails to be removed from underneath.  The previous caner (Nan's Grandfather) used upholstery tacks to hold down each cane end.  The cane ends typically cracked & the tacks were actually holding very little.  In some places the upholstery tacks actually caused the wood to chip & break - which I repaired.  I also cleaned the wood & applied a hand wax to polish up the finish.

Before.



After. Nan loved the results.



Winter 2010 Project for Nan & her Sister
5 Chairs that took me about a month, I really got right to work on these.
         The chairs were a variety, 1 pressed cane, 1 Bentwood Ice Cream chair, 2 lovely oak kitchen chairs & an ornate bedroom chair. There were several repairs in the wood & little nails to be removed from underneath.  In some places the little nails actually caused the wood to chip & break - which I repaired.  I also cleaned the wood & applied a hand wax to polish up the finish.
Before:
Nan 2010 chairs before

Completed:
Nan 2010 chairs after
Thank you, Nan, for letting me hone my skills on your chairs & restore the beauty of the work your grandfather completed.


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Experienced Caners share their advice
Don's instructions for Finishing Off the Binding. Don sends another way to complete Step 7.  His terms are "Couching & Beading". He also sends a picture of a handy tool.

Helen is a Quality Professional Caner. She kindly shares some details that make your cane chair stronger & more beautiful. She sends a picture & instructions for a beautiful chair with "X" & "Fishhead" details.

Martin's Nursing Chair. Martin sent pictures of the refinishing & re-caning process. These pictures help with the Pegging instructions, for a very clean, knot free back.

Martin uses Pegging instead of tying-off the ends. Martin Pegs every other hole to hold the cane ends & then loops through the other holes for step 7 binder.

Knotless Backs - Cathryn & David shared more techniques to make the backside of chair & rocker backs as beautiful as the fronts.  This requires more concentration & effort as you pay close attention to how each loop on the backside continuously looks.  

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Other's Chair Caning Projects.  Since building this chair caning web site, I've been contacted by many people from all over the country & some internationally.  I'm adding this section of web space for other people to show their successes.  Perhaps, this will continue to grow as an inspiration for other's to attempt their first chair caning project, as well as showing other chair caning designs.  So send in your success stories & I'll try to add them here for all to see.

Lorne Cline's Cradle with Cane Sides This is a beautiful work of art, from both the woodworking & caning view.
Wendell's First cane chair - Round Seat Provides step by step pictures & story, Modified 7 Step Process.
Pauline's Blind Caning Project: Also known as French Caning. She calls the work "fiddly". It calls for patience.
Bill's Grandma's Curved Back Rocker. Very well illustrated,  answering questions for those attempting a rocker.
Mike's School Project. His first caning project to complete a class-work assignment.
Stephanie's Ribbon Caning. This very creative person had LOTS of ribbon & no cane available. So she wove ribbon instead of using cane. These pictures help to visualize the weaving steps more clearly.
Sheila's Round Chair that was her grandfather's.
Marlous' First Caning Project.
Carol's heirloom. Carol refurbished a junk rocker & turned it into heirloom
Bonnie's Successful First Attempt She encourages more to people to try caning, using this website for instructions.
Nancy shows her first caning projects, a round ice cream chair & small sewing rocker. Nancy is from my local area & learned to cane from an Adult Education class.
Alex cane seat for the canoe he built.  Both seat & canoe are works of love & beautiful art.
 

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On a Iowa trip, my wife & I sat on "Iowa's Largest Solid Walnut Caned Rocker". It was very impressive. The cane strands were over 1 inch wide.  Even in this huge rocker, the seven step caning method worked & looked wonderful.

 

 

 
Chair Caners Code of Ethics.  Quality Caners & Weaver strive to succeed with this Pledge.
Seatweaving, Chair Caning Forum Member

 

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I hope you enjoy these instructions & find them helpful with your chair caning projects. If you have questions feel free to email me & I will try to assist. My email address is : wayne.sharp@mnsu.edu

If you are an advanced caner & have constructive comments on how to improve these instructions, I invite your emailed thoughts.

I am also looking for instructions on how to do other caning methods, as I'd like to continue learning THE ART of CANING.

Wayne Sharp, 2002 thru 2009.  All rights reserved. All work in these instructions & pictures are my own and may not be used for profit without my prior permission. Pictures for the "Other's Chair Caning Projects" and "Experienced Caners share their advice" are provided with permission to publish on this website.

Wayne Sharp.
Created December 2001
wayne.sharp@mnsu.edu
Mankato, Minnesota

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