Pauline's Blind Caning Project

Pauline, contacted me in January 2008 from France,  asking the question about Blind Caning a chair. For those of you confused about how to blind cane. Pauline did a wonderful job & is sharing her work with you, the caning community.  The following email thread describes her work & thoughts.

Dear Mr. Sharp

I think your website is remarkable.  I have some experience of caning chairs, but the simple 7 step design only.  I have today bought an oldish (I think a reproduction of an old french design) but the holes do not go all the way through the wood, only three quarters of the way.  I can see why as the wood is beautifully designed/turned/cut and if holes went all the way through, it would spoil the ascethetic from the back.  The section does not appear to have been made from sheet cane (it may have been but I cannot see how), and the holes have not been plugged completely to keep the cane in.  I have never seen a chair with this type of caning before and am at a complete loss.

Hope you can help,

regards Pauline

I responded:

From your description, I would believe this caning technique to be called “blind caning”  or “French caning”. (Interesting, that you in France have one).  I have not seen one, but have read discussion lists about them.  From my understanding, each cane strand is cut to exact length & run to the holes. The cane strands are held in the holes by pegs.  When all caning is complete, the cane is permanently fixed with pegs & glue; or I’ve read that some use a heavier cane/rattan, like the binder, to hold the cane strands in place (which is easier to work with than wood pegs).  This process takes a lot of time & patience.

Hope this helps.


Here is the results from Pauline's work at "Blind Caning" or "French Caning".



 I have finished the chair, I decided to show you the result. 

It was much harder to do than the seven step method, very fiddly.  Unfortunately I had to peg the holes at the end.  The original was just kept in with a small amount of glue; I tried numerous times but the cane kept pulling out.  The pegs are very obvious but I will stain them and the cane when I get back from the States, it might tone it down a bit.

Really appreciate your help.

best wishes, Pauline


Pauline's work & words:

I had to use pegs in each hole which necessitated taking them out and replacing after each step.  Quite time consuming and fiddly.  I now have great admiration for the furniture makers who used this blind method.

There were certain things I learnt by trial and error such as:

Horizontal canes could put in dry but I had to damp down the ends in order to bend them into the holes.  Otherwise they broke.  Also, all the diagonals had to be damped down because of the curvature of the back.  One couldn't keep the horizontals or verticals loose, they had to be fairly taut with the pegs slightly hammered in each and every step.  I tried keeping the lengths to the holes as you said but it didn't work for me, I had to have at least two to three inches over otherwise the pegs could not keep the cane in for subsequent steps.  I also made a few mistakes, again because of the curved back, I fixed the ends as I would for straight caning and some of the connections are not in a perfect point, there are a few points which are missing one cane connection because I carried on in a straight line with the diagonals put it in the wrong hole for the piece. 

Probably if I were more experienced I wouldn't have needed to have gone through the agony of all the fiddly bits and more importantly, spent more time on the end pegging.


Unfortunately my camera expertise is sadly lacking, the second picture above was an attempt to show the back wood which has no holes.  It is only vaguely apparent. 

The finished chair.  Not the best I have done but it is fine for my first time doing blind canning.  I think I will look for pieces with holes in the future! 

Really appreciate your advice.


Pauline's Successful Completion of Blind Caning or French Caning (French Caning, Finished by the French Lady!!!)   Yeah!!! Celebrate your success, Pauline.  Congratulations.