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Chair caning

Caning weave

Example of a traditional six step pattern


Stage 1
Setting and weaving 1. Laying the first cane, from front to back. Then the second cane from side to side.

Setting and Weaving 2. Laying the the third cane to one side of the first cane using the same holes.
Weaving the fourth cane (from side to side) over and under thr first and third cane.

Stage 2.
Diagonals Using the corner holes weaving cane from one corner to another.
When one complete diagonal is achieved the second diagonal in the opposite direction is then completed.

Stage 3
Pegging Having decided on the type of finish required the cane is then pegged, either in every hole, or in every other hole. Loose ends are secured or cut away.

Stage 4.
Bedding and Couching If an edging strip is required then a beading strip is laid which is held in place by threading couching cane up and down through the unpegged holes. Ends are knotted or cut away.
Caned chair

Materials and Equipment

Cane for chair seating is imported from South-east Asia and is the hard bark from the ratan cane. It is available in sizes from 1 to 6. For the six step traditional pattern, two different sizes are used: no.2 and no.4 are the most common and suit a chair that has holes 1cm apart from the centre of one hole to the centre of the next. If your chair has holes which are closer, use finer cane. Likewise if they are further apart then use a thicker one.

You can use the cane dry or damp. Dry cane is brittle and can break when threading through but can be cut off if need be. Damping the cane makes it more pliable but is more difficult to pull through. Just run it through damp fingers never leave to soak in a bowl of water. Pegs are needed to hold the work tight, plastic or wood golf tees are perfect for the job. A tool to clear out the holes of an old chair, small hammer,scissors, stanley knife or craft knife.

Removing the old cane.
Remove the old cane by cutting carefully away and then clean out holes with a tool like a small screw driver or bradel.

Caning a six way pattern.

Step 1.
. Place the cane in a hole next to one of the corners in the back rail, i.e rails are the wooden edges of the seat in which the holes are drilled. Leave 10 to 15 cm of cane underneath and peg tightly so that the cane does not slip and is able to is to cross to the opposite hole in the front rail with the glossy side up. Pass the cane through the next hole in the rail and peg it again. Bring the cane up through the next hole in the front, making sure the glossy side of is still upermost and peg again. Now the cane returns to the back again and backwards and forwards until all but the corner holes are used. Keep the tension really taut.

The first is left in because it is securing the end of the cane and if removed, the cane will become too slack. The second and third pegs are travelling pegs and move along with each stroke of the work.
Lengths of cane always start and finish at a rail, never in the middle of the material. When the length of cane is nearly finished, peg it into a hole and leave the peg in to keep it taut. Start again with a new length of cane in the next hole and peg securly.

Step 2.the first horizontal. Exactly the same as the first vertical but travelling horizontaly across the seat instead of up and down. This stage lies on top of the first vertical. Keep the ends of the cane well pegged and use the travelling pegs to keep the tension fairly taut. Remember to keep the glossy side of the cane upermost.

Step 3.the second vertical,a repition of the first vertical-this step lies on top of the first horizontal, creating a sandwich effect of a vertical strand top and bottom with a horizontal one in the middle. No actual weaving is done at this stage for a simple seat. Try to push the first vertical to the left in each hole and set the second vertical to lie to the right of the first. When you reach a hole that is pegged because it has an end of the cane underneath, remove the peg, insert the working cane and re-peg the hole keeping the end well stretched.

Step 4.the second horizontal. This step follows the same pattern as the first horizontal but the cane is woven over and under the vertical steps. You must see that the cane is pulled through in the right direction. If you slide the cane through your fingers you will feel that sometimes one way will seem smoother than the other, that is because the rough pieces were where the leaves and thorns were pulled of the cane originally. Always run the cane through the smooth way, otherwise it will tear the cane it passess through. Ensure the cane is not twisted before weaving it, glossy side up. Do not pull the cane through after each stroke. Thread through 6 to 8 verticals before doing so. Make sure you start as you plan to continue- if you start this second horizontal in front of the first, all the second horizontal lines must come in front; if you start behind, they must all be behind.

Start as for the first horizontal and peg one end of the cane in one of the holes next to the corner on the left hand rail. Weave the cane underneath the first vertical and over the second vertical all the way across. Make sure you always do this under and over weaving in the same order. In other words you must see the upper cane or ( or second vertical) is always pulled the same way. Work this step to the front of the first horizontal so that the instructions for the next step are easier.

Step 5.the first diagonal or the first crossing. This is the time to change to the thicker cane you have chosen. Take note of all the points mentioned in step 4 as they are used in this step. This time the corner holes are used twice.

Although this step becomes a diagonal it is worked in a series of right angled steps-up or down one and then along one. When the cane is pulled tight it will automatically become diagonal.

Peg the cane into the back left hand corner hole. Weave down over the first pair of horizontals(step 2 and 4) and then along and under the first pair of verticals. Now repeat - down and over the next pair of horizontals and along and under the next pair of verticals. Repeat all the way across the seat to the front rail.

If the chair is quite square the first diagonal will finish in the opposite corner- otherwise thread it into which-ever hole it reaches naturally.
Bring the cane up through the next hole to the left in the front rail and weave back to the top of the left hand rail. The pattern of the over and under weaving should be exactly the same as the first line of diagonal weaving.

Continue to weave back and forth checking that the pattern is correct, until the front corner is reached and the cane is passed straight across the last two holes.

Go back to the top left hand corner, that is where you started this step and peg another cane into that corner( the corners are used twice in this step). Weave the other half of of the seat in exactly the same way as the first half, that is over the horizontals and under the verticals.

. It is essential to ensure that the diagonals slip in between the horizontals and the verticals. This gives the finished fabric elasticity and the edges of the cane will not rub and cut each other. When you become more experienced you can decide for your self which way the first four steps go as long as you observe the fact that the diagonals are woven in the correct way so the edges do not chafe.

Step 6.The second diagonal or second crossing. This step is exactly the opposite of step 5. Start in the back right hand corner and weave at right angles to the other diagonal.

This time weave under the horizontals and over the verticals. As for step 5, the diagonals must slip in between the horizontals and verticals.

br>Finishing off Tying in There are many ways of finishing off the ends of the cane which have been pegged at each end to the rails but tying in or pegging are the most professional. Each end may be tied round an ajacent loop underneath the seat. It is a good idea to wet the cane first to get it to soften. Push the end of the cane under the loop twice and pull tight. A light tap tap with a small hammer will flatten the knot. This method is quick and easy but rather untidy, so do not use on the back of a chair where the finishing off will be very obvious.

Pegging.Each hole may be pegged and all the ends securely held by cutting a piece of No. 10 or 12 centre cane or small pieces of soft wood, 3mm smaller than the hole depth. Insert one peg into each hole, and using a punch tap the pegs to just below the surface. make sure they fit the hole tightly, cut off any extra, underneath.

Beading. This is a modern way of finishing off the upper edges of the seat. It consists of a length of wider beading cane ( No. 5 or 6 ) couched down with a thinner ( No 1 or 2 ) couching cane. It is up to you whether you add it or not, but it should not be put on an antique chair.
First of all the ends should be secured by either tying them in ( method 1 above ) or by pegging every other hole. Any ends that finish in holes not to be brought up through an adjacent hole to be pegged there.
Cut a length of the thick cane, long enough to go around the seat and down the holes with 7.5 cm to spare at each end. Insert it into one of the back corners.

Add a long, thinner, couching cane into the same hole with only a couple of inches showing on the upper side. Thread this short end down through the first unpegged hole and the long end up through the same hole to make a short stitch to secure end. The long end now passes over the beading cane and back down through the same hole, pulling it tight. Pass it along underneath the seat to the next unpegged hole and bring it up to the top again ready to couch in the beading cane. Continue until you reach the second corner, and insert the beading cane into the corner hole.

Add in a new beading cane that will stretch across the front rail. Bend the new cane back and peg the corner hole so that the peg will be covered by this beading cane when it is put into position. Bead each side in the same way until you are back to the first corner. Peg this on the outside , catching in the thin couching cane also.

If you need to join in a new couching cane, loop it round thr rail through the holes and underneath the beading cane to secure. The end of the previous length of cane is secured in the same way.

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