Bill's Chair Caning Project
Below is Bill's project, a curved back rocker, with cane back & seat. Bill
caned the seat a while ago, but now is caning the difficult curved back. These
are Bill's pictures, with Bill's words that he emailed me, describing his work
as he went along.
Bill, Thank you for submitting this pictorial journal of your project &
congratulations on your successful completion.
Hello, Professor Sharp:
I just returned from sunny and hot central Oregon. I completed caning my
mother's curved back rocking chair. The results came out well, but not
perfect. That will come with more experience. I wanted to show a few of the
photos of various stages of the project.
Here I have attached a thin slat to the back of the chair and begun step one.
The length of the cane had to be 19.5 inches. The hole perimeter was farther
from the back of the rails than the front, thus a thinner slat to make a19.5
inch cane length.
For step three, I had to put the slat across the front of the chair, and it
had to be thicker, to make a 19.5 inch cane length. I used clamps to hold
the slats in place.
Sincerely yours, Bill Hopkins
I also want to mention that before I removed the old cane from the back of
the curved back rocking chair, I marked the holes where the diagonals from the
upper right and left corners ended on the side rails with a black felt marker
pen. That eliminated any guessing to where the diagonals should go, since the
back is a retangle in shape, rather than a square. I simply put a black dot by
the appropriate holes.
Here I am with step one completed. I had the chair on a small table to do
this job. The elevation was comfortable. I worked under a car port to stay
out of the hot sun.
Here I am working on step two and can see the completed step one and caning
Step 4 from the front. Keeping the verticals and horizontals square and lined
up was difficult with the curvature of the side rails. I think the curvature
introduces certain stresses and pulls that make keeping things squared up very
Here I have completed step 3 and step 4 as viewed from the back of the chair.
I found step 4 to be the most difficult. Another problem I had was the very
dry air of central Oregon. I soaked the cane well, but it would dry out so
fast, I had to sponge it frequently. I did not have any glycerin.
I remember that in my narrative to you about the caning of the curved backed
rocking chair, I forgot to mention that I followed your good advice on step 4.
You said to start in the middle, where the slat is, and work up and down. I did
that and it worked very well, as opposed from starting at the top and working to
the bottom. If you post my narrative with the photos, you may want to make sure
that this is mentioned. It makes the difficult step 4 much easier.
This is the completed step 5 diagonals. I found the diagonals to be easier to
do that the challenging step 4 weave. I wove one square at a time, to prevent
breakage of the cane in the super dry air - one at a time.
Step 5 from the back. I had curious neighbors watching me cane the chair!
There is an interest in caning out there.
Here I have finished step 6. I had some trouble keeping the diagonals
straight, but when finished the overall pattern seemed to cover it up pretty
well. I also discovered I had to skip a hole on the bottom rail during step
6. I still have not figured out the why of that, but it had to be done to
come out on the lower left corner.
Finished at last. The chair took three full days to complete. The chair was
very old and made with square nails. It belonged to my Grandmother and my
mother says may have belonged to her mother. I took your advice, and had a
glass of wine. It was strawberry wine and went down well. The binder cane
was challenging as the holes were small and full, before the binder cane of
step 7. I used an ice pick to open up the holes. Overall, I am pleased.
This is the sixth chair I have caned. I plan to do the seat the next time I
am at my mother's in sunny central Oregon.
Thank you very much for your web site, your tips to me and your encouragement.
Sincerely yours, Bill
GREAT PROJECT, BILL.
Submit your projects (in jpg pictures) & I'll try to add your success story
for the caning world to appreciate. And then celebrate with your favorite