Caning a Chair Seat

I found this old oak rocking chair exactly as it's pictured here. Very sturdy bones, but it needed a lot of attention. I used old dental tools to remove the spline holding in the cane on the back of the chair. As you can see, the caning in the chair seat was long gone and replaced with a piece of cheap wood. All that had to go.
Next I stripped off every last bit of the white top layer of paint and under that I removed a very faded shade of turquoise. Careful sanding took me down to the raw oak.
I then damp cleaned the wood thoroughly with Murphy's Wood Oil Soap and let it dry for several days. Topped this with several applications of matte finish polycrylic. In between coats I used very fine steel wool to knock off any spots in the finish.
I thought it was so beautiful and I was a little apprehensive about the caning part.
Research on the internet told me everything I needed to know and I found a wonderful seller on Ebay to purchase precut sheets of caning material (the kit includes the spline, assorted wood wedges and an easy-to-follow instruction booklet).

I decided to cane the chair seat first, figuring if I messed up the application it would be easier to cover up (with my big butt.) ha I soaked the first sheet of caning material in the tub in lukewarm water for 30 minutes and began the process. (Making sure the caning is put in straight is the main concern.)
I used a very sharp wood chisel inside the groove to clean the cane edges. Only a small bit of wood glue was required inside the groove and the pre-soaked spline was wedged into place.
The process was repeated to cane the chair back and the rocking chair was allowed to dry 24 hours before use. Seriously, caning a chair seat turned out to be a very easy project and the only tools I used were hand tools.

I love my "new" rocking chair!


  1. Wow! Seriously. What a transformation. I've never tackled caning but you certainly make this look effortless. Love the project!

  2. Boy, that's fantastic!

    I have an old bentwood rocker that will soon need new caning. You made it seem so easy.

    Thanks for the inspiration!


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