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A friend gave me a barrel cane back chair so I can learn to cane but I am really struggling with it. Iíve already tried it and messed it up once, so now I need some extra advice. It is hard to find instructions and videos on how to use cane webbing for the back (specifically) of chairs, especially barrel back ones. One main issue Iím having is that there are only 3 sides with grooves. The bottom side, where the seat meets the back doesnít have a groove. The seat sits flush with the back of the chair and the way it was originally, the caning was sort of tucked under the seat and attached somehow. It sort of created a right angle in the caning and then went straight up to the top and sides where the normal grooves are. I donít know how to replicate this. The second issue Iím having is how to make it so the caning curves with the back.

Here are my specific questions:

1) Since itís a barrel back, doesnít it have to convex outwards to mold with the persons back as they sit? If so, how do I achieve this while keeping the caning taught and not compromising the strength and integrity?

2) I know I need to soak the cane webbing first but I have heard and read MANY variations of this. What should the temperature of the water be and how long do I soak it? A few suggestions Iíve heard are 2 hours, 4 hours, and also up to 24 hours.

3) Where do I start the process.. and by that I mean.. should I start by attaching the bottom where the seat and back meet and then move up? I could be completely wrong but I didnít do it that way to begin with and it became very difficult to attach the bottom with the three other sides pushed into the grooves.

4) (And last I promise!) Should I staple the bottom of the webbing to the bottom rim of the chair? I THINK that is how it was done originally but to be honest, I donít remember and my pictures donít show me exactly how it was done.

If you have any other suggestions or ideas I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear them! I have more pictures if that would help. THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!! I am determined to do this, even if it takes me 10 more tries!

WOW, First I would say that you find a regular chair seat to practice on before trying this so you will have a "feel" of how the cane webbing works.
However, to do your chair, you will need to staple the bottom to the rail. Start at the center and work both ways, staple at the bottom first, then do the top. You should be able to do an inch or two alternating bottom to top. You must watch the verticals while working so you don't start running off at an angle. When you finish the top/bottom, do the sides starting in the middle and alternate from side to side so again, you keep everything vertical and horizontal.
I usually tap the webbing into the grove only enough to hold it [along with my wedges} till I have the whole item done, then go back over and "seat" it in the groove.
 Soaking should be in hot {140} water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. You will find that in regular chair seats, you may not need to soak quite as long while your curved back cane piece will need a full soak. Knowing if it appears pliable enough comes from experience.
 Don't soak your spline for more then a few minutes to get it pliable. To long and it can swell and not fit.

 Good Luck,

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Anderson's Restorations-Rob Anderson


We can answer questions about wicker repair and restoration, chair seating[caning-rush-splint-danish cord] , brass and copper polishing, veneering and veneer repair. WE WILL NOT GIVE APPRAISALS or answer "WHATS IT WORTH" questions. If you want a value, contact us for our current costs for this service.


Just entered our 40th year doing this work. We started in Fl and have been in NC for the last 15 years. We have a web site where we have alot of information about us and a blog at where we have many before and after photos of our work.We also are experienced in Fiat Jolly Seats and other automobile seating and work on Horse Drawn Carriage pieces.

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