Frequently Asked Questions About Furniture Reweaving
Do we have any book recommendations?
Of course! In other sections of the website we have books placed more specifically with pages where the relevance is high. Books about furniture weaving don't focus on one aspect only but the entire craft. So here they all are together to the right. The Caner's Handbook is a long time standard but the two books in the top row have superior presentation.
Questions about cane:
Can a hand woven cane chair be converted to a machine woven cane chair to lower the cost of replacing the seat?
It can. Here are some things to keep in mind. Machine woven cane must be glued into a spline groove. A spline groove must be cut around the perimeter in place of the existing holes for hand caning. Next, the holes must be plugged. Some who cut spline grooves fail to plug the holes. The reason plugging the holes is necessary is that the glue added to the groove to hold the machine cane and spline in place will drain out of the holes and the new cane will not be securely held in place, shortening its life. Some will tape the bottom of the holes and remove the tape after gluing. That helps, but not enough. Rarely is enough glue used to fill the entire hole. Even if enough is used, but especially when not, as the glue settles or evaporates, too little glue is left at the top where the holding strength is needed. Glue pooling at the tape can also seep underneath the tape, drain out, or adhere to the finish around the hole (when dealing with a chair back) and lift the finish when removed.
The work described above applies to hand caning when the holes are bored through the chair. The cost of converting a hand caned surface where the holes are bored through the chair to a machine caned chair, plus the cost of attaching machine cane, can closely approximate the cost of simply weaving a new cane seat by hand. The next times the cane is replaced the cost will be significantly less. For blind, or French, caning, when the holes are not bored through the chair, the spline still needs to be cut but the holes do not need to be filled. Because the cost of blind caning is so high and there is no need to fill the holes when making the conversion, the savings in cost making the conversion from blind caned to machined caned can be significant.
We will make such conversions for our customers but like to offer this advice. First, there really is minimal savings the first time this is done when typical hand caning is involved. Most people will only replace a caned seat or back once, rarely twice. The savings is future not present. What is given up in replacing hand with machine is the aesthetic value of the hand worked item. Machine cane is consistent in pattern to the edge where the spline secures it to the chair. The pattern of hand caned surfaces is clearly identifiable but is varied in spacing and the perimeter where the cane is woven into the holes, is highly varied. This is clear evidence of hand work and should add value if well done. Second, especially on chair backs, the appearance of the chair back is also a consideration. If the desire is to have the chair back mended to hide the holes, and sometimes the groove which has been cut for the back side of the hand cane to rest in, the cost of doing that mending can make the job much more expensive than simply reweaving by hand. Second, if there is any interest either now or in the future, to converting to one of the other patterns available on hand caned seats or backs, that ability to convert would be eliminated.
Can a machine woven cane chair be converted to a hand woven cane chair?
It can. The spline groove would need to be filled and holes drilled. This is best done when the seat or back is loose, as in a time when the chair needed to be disassembled for regluing. The conversion can be made when the chair is assembled but is often very difficult because the seat, back, arms or other elements are positioned so that using a drill at the proper angle is difficult. Most of the time people want to spend less not more on their caned chairs, so this is a query we rarely hear.
How long does a cane seat last?
There is no set answer. We have replaced cane that is five years old and cane that has lasted fifty or more years. Since cane is a natural material, the condition or quality of the original plant material will effect the life. There is no way we can look at a strand of cane and know its condition or potential life. Also, the environment in which it is used and the way in which it is used will effect its life. Cane tends to last longer in humid environments than in dry climates. The more the cane is stressed the more likely that it will eventually succumb to the stress and break.
Is cane strong enough to stand on?
You have got to be kidding.
The finish on our cane is chipping off. Was it a bad finish? Can it be fixed?
Cane has a natural outer skin which forms the top or front side of the woven surface. Few finishes adhere well to it. Paints, lacquers, varnishes, and modern finishes will all start to chip off with use. It is very difficult to touch up areas which have chipped off. Once the touch up is done, other areas will continue to chip off. Whenever you look at a piece of furniture with a caned seat or back, if the finish on the cane matches the finish on the chair, you can be sure that eventually the finish on that cane will begin chipping
The most durable finishes for use on cane are oil, wax and shellac. These are also finishes which have the least effect on the color of the cane. However, cane needs no finish. It will naturally age to a mellow variegated amber color which, to many eyes, is much more desirable than an artificially colored surface.
I have something I haven't seen pictured on your website, can you replicate it?
Yes. As long as we have something to copy or work from, we can reproduce it.
How do I care for hand woven materials?
Don't ask them to do more than what they were meant to do. Don't stand on them, don't soak them, don't bake them in the sun. Keep claws and teeth away from them. No special care is needed.
Some hand woven materials, including varieties of cane, wicker and rush, have paper and plastic alternatives. Pros and cons?
Pros: Generally cheaper.
Cons: Generally cheaper.
Plastic materials are designed for patio use. They won't mildew which is the major advantage. They can also be colored in ways to create beautifully designed items. They will not outlast natural materials.
Paper wicker and paper (fiber) rush can last a long time if protected from moisture by being painted, shellacked, or lacquered. Even if unprotected they can have a long life if kept dry. The color is uniform so they are not naturally attractive materials. Paper cane is worthless as a load bearing surface. It can be useful as a design element, such as in a center panel on a coffee table which has a solid wood base and a protective coating on top.
Paper and plastic materials cannot be stripped. They can be repainted or top-coated only.
Paper and plastic materials, other than paper wicker, cannot be repaired. If they need to be replaced, we strongly recommend replacing them with natural materials, however that is usually prohibitively expensive. If your paper or plastic woven furniture is worn, it is time to go shopping!