Knotless Backs

As you work on chairs & rockers, you will eventually come across a piece that has caning on the back.  This also leaves the backside of the back visible.  It is important to make this caning as neat as possible - adding yet another degree of difficulty to the caning process.  Here I will gather techniques to making the finished product beautiful.


There are several techniques to “knotless” backs. 


1.      Select the longest & best of cane strands – this helps to reduce the need for tying ends.  Do not cut the strands, try to use them in a future step.  Also, start & end canes on the bottom rail of the back, which also will make knots less visible.

2.      Probably the BEST technique -  the “Sandwich” method. With this technique you leave all strands untied.  When another cane strand (#2) comes down the same hole as cane(#1), heading up towards the next hole, sandwich the cane (#1) end between the rail & the cane (#2) strand & continue up the hole. Prior to pulling tight, carefully cut the cane(#1) so that it enters the next hole, but doesn’t come out the top of the hole (or maybe comes out just a little bit).  You may end up with just a couple cane ends, which you can tuck under a nearby loop & send up a hole.  The pressure of cane(#2) against the rails will hold cane(#1) secure.  I first found out about this technique from the Wickerwoman Cathryn Peters - checkout  for excellent advice & directory information.

3.      “Invisible Knot” – this is hard to describe in words.  With the invisible knot, think of your cane strands as being tied into 1 continuous strand.  So when you come to the end of a cane strand, you tie the next cane strand onto the end using an overhand knot & pull it tight – inside the rail hole --.  Use your awl to form room for more cane to run.  After successfully learning this Invisible knot, each chair should only have 1 knot at the last cane strand, which you can run under a loop & up a hole.  David Dick demonstrated this technique to me & others at the 2009 Seat Weavers Guild, so I will attribute this technique to him.


Mixed Techniques + Mixed Success:   I have tried to use the Invisible knot, with mixed success.  It seems to work best for me to use it on the first 3-4 steps & then finish the diagonals with the Sandwich method.  My next experiment will be to do a chair with just the Sandwich technique.


Also, some Spanish design (or perhaps south American) pieces will have a groove in the backside of the back.  The cane is run & tied off as needed & then a piece of wood or large binder cane fills the groove – which is then finished to match the rest of the chair.  This hides all caning from the back, but it more difficult for the next caner to remove & replace.