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Caning Chairs - How to Cane a Chair

There are but few households that do not have at least one or two chairs without a seat or back. The same households may have some one who would enjoy recaning the chairs if he only knew how to do it, and also make considerable pin money by repairing chairs for the neighbors. If the following directions are carried out, new cane seats and backs can easily be put in chairs where they are broken or sagged to an uncomfortable position.

The first thing necessary is to remove the old cane. This can be done by turning the chair upside down and, with the aid of a sharp knife or chisel, cutting the cane between the holes. After this is done the old bottom can be pulled out. If plugs are found in any of the holes, they should be knocked out. If the beginner is in doubt about finding which holes along any curved sides should be used for the cane running nearly parallel to the edge, he may find it to his advantage to mark the holes on the under side of the frame before removing the old cane.

The worker should be provided with a small sample of the old cane. At any first-class hardware store a bundle of similar material may be secured.

The cane usually comes in lengths of about 15 ft. and each bundle contains

Three Stages of Weaving

enough to reseat several chairs. In addition to the cane, the worker should provide himself with a piece of bacon rind, a square pointed wedge, as shown in Fig. 1, and 8 or 10 round wood plugs, which are used for temporarily holding the ends of the cane in the holes.

First Layer of Strands

A bucket of water should be supplied in which to soak the cane just before weaving it. Several minutes before you are ready to begin work, take four or five strands of the cane, and, after having doubled them up singly into convenient lengths and tied each one into a single knot, put them into the water to soak. The cane is much more pliable and is less liable to crack in bending when worked while wet. As fast as the soaked cane is used, more of it should be put into the water.

Untie one of the strands which has been well soaked, put about 3 or 4 in. down through the hole at one end of what is to be the outside strand of one side and secure it in this hole by means of one of the small plugs mentioned. The plug should not be forced in too hard nor cut off, as it must be removed again.

 First Two Layers in Place

The other end of the strand should be made pointed and passed down through the hole at the opposite side, and, after having been pulled tight, held there by inserting another plug. Pass the end up through the next hole, then across and down, and hold while the second plug is moved to the last hole through which the cane was drawn. In the same manner proceed across the chair bottom. Whenever the end of one strand is reached, it should be held by a plug, and a new one started in the next hole as in the beginning. No plugs should be permanently removed until another strand of cane is through the same hole to hold the first strand in place. After laying the strands across the seat in one direction, put in another layer at right angles and lying entirely above the first layer. Both of these layers when in place appear as shown in one of the illustrations.

After completing the second layer, stretch the third one, using the same holes as for the first layer. This will make three layers, the first being hidden by the third while the second layer is at right angles to and between the first and third. No weaving has been done up to this time, nothing but stretching and threading the cane through the holes. The cane will have the appearance shown in Fig. 3. The next thing to do is to start the cane across in the same direction as the second layer and begin the weaving. The top or third layer strands should be pushed toward the end from which the weaving starts, so that the strand being woven may be pushed down between the first and third layers and up again between pairs. The two first strands of the fourth layer are shown woven in Fig. 3. During the weaving, the strands should be lubricated with the rind of bacon to make them pass through with ease. Even with this lubrication, one can seldom weave more than half way across the seat with the pointed end before finding it advisable to pull the remainder of the strand through. After finishing this fourth layer of strands, it is quite probable that each strand will be about midway between its two neighbors instead of lying close to its mate as desired, and here is where the square and pointed wedge is used. The wedge is driven down between the proper strands to move them into place.

Start at one corner and weave diagonally, as shown in Fig. 4, making sure that the strand will slip in between the two which form the corner of the square in each case. One more weave across on the diagonal and the seat will be finished except for the binding, as shown in Fig. 5. The binding consists of one strand that covers the row of holes while it is held down with another strand, a loop over the first being made every second or third hole as desired. It will be of great assistance to keep another chair with a cane bottom at hand to examine while recaning the first chair.

—Contributed by M. R. W.

Excerpt from the book:

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