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 pegs.


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 challenging.



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
Ketchikan, Alaska



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 refreshment.

Wayne Sharp.