Cane Chair Seating - Caning Repair Options

We perform a full range of CANING OPTIONS to repair and replace cane seating. As wood and finish experts we also attend to those structural and finishing requirements that your piece may also need.

Cane seating defined as press or hand cane, rush rope, split ash, along with rattan and wicker are all repairable. Each defined and shown. Also available via UPS shipping of your item.

CHAIR SEATING — Repair and Replacement Options

Caning Options

Pressed Cane:

  • Pressed cane seat repair is not usually effective, so replacement is preferable.
  • Usually found on more modern chairs.
  • Identifiable by a reed around the outside edge recessed into a groove routed into the top of the wood frame.
  • This system was developed to allow the mass production of caned pieces, and has been in use since the late 1920's. At the factory they are "stamped" into place.
  • A pre-woven sheet of cane is driven, and glued, and finally secured by a spline into a groove around the edge of the wood frame.
  • There are pattern options available for press cane material. Variations in the size of the cane hole pattern from 3/8" to 1", cross weaves, and others are available. The standard is a 3/8" hole pattern. OPTIONAL PATTERNS

Hand Cane:

  • Hand cane seat repair is not usually effective, so replacement is preferable.
  • Usually found on older chairs and some fine newer items.
  • Hand cane is easy to identify because there are individual holes in the wood frame for each strand of cane.
  • The thickness of the wood frame is usually about ¾", but if thicker like 1 ½" the difficulty level increases several fold and, accordingly, increases the cost.
  • The pattern of the hand weave is controlled by the holes in the wood frame. The cane pattern usually appears to be about 3/8" spaced, like the standard press cane pattern.
  • The reference to "hand cane" is because it is hand woven strand by strand through each hole.
  • Sometimes we encounter a chair that was originally fitted for hand cane that has subsequently been covered over by leather, fabric, plywood or who knows what else. In those cases if the line of holes in the wood is intact, or can be recreated, it is possible to put the chair back to its original appearance with any needed wood repairs.
  • Hand cane replacement is almost a lost art performed by only a few older craft people.

French Cane:

  • French cane seat repair is not usually effective, so replacement is preferable.
  • Usually found only on older fine chairs. It can be on the seat and/or back.
  • The blind hole approach involves the drilling of shallow holes only part way into the frame, and then working the cane - all six courses - and the binding into each hole, and then finally completing the job with a wooden peg in each hole. The hole does not go all the way through the wood frame. We have only recently been able to find someone who would perform such blind hole French caning. It appears to be nearly a lost art.
  • A variation is the back spline approach that involves a groove routed into the back of the chair frame. This allows the frame to be hand caned. Then once the caning is installed, a solid spline is added to fill the groove.
  • You often see the back spline system of French cane on the backrest of fancy chairs, since the loops of traditional hand cane would show through the back.
  • From a practical standpoint, replacing back spline French cane is very costly and usually involves refinishing the chair due to removing and replacing the wood spline on the back. The cost question is controlled by how hard it will be to remove the current wood spline without causing other damage.

Related "Seating" Options:

Rush Rope:

  • Rush rope seat repair is not usually effective, so replacement is preferable.
  • Usually found on older items, especially rockers, larger chairs. and some Shaker style chairs with ladder backs. Sometimes found on the center of backs.
  • Identifiable by it being small diameter "rope" wrapped around a four-edge frame. The frame can be dowels or flat slats with rounded edges.
  • Originally rush reed plants were harvested, dried, and used for this purpose. Almost never found today except very rough versions that are imported that can not be duplicated.
  • Modern rush rope is man-made twisted Kraft paper like used for grocery sacks. It is very strong.
  • The shape of the frame controls the weave pattern. The pattern is always four wedges meeting at the center of the area.
  • We do not recommend applying finish to this material.

Split Ash:

  • Split ash seat repair is not usually effective, so replacement is preferable.
  • Usually found on older items, especially rockers and larger chairs. Sometimes found on the center of backs.
  • Identifiable by it being flat strips of ash wood usually about ½" wide.
  • Originally it was narrow strips of ash tree outer surfaces to include some bark cut from the tree sapling while it was still green, then dried and used for this purpose. Ends were often tied together. This version is not available today.
  • Modern split ash is made-made from actual ash wood. Lengths of the strips vary and the ends are fashioned with a keyhole joint system to allow end-to-end joints. Every effort is made to locate all such joints on the bottom of the seat.
  • The shape of the woven pattern is almost always a herringbone shape controlled by the wood frame.
  • We do not recommend applying finish to this type of seating.


  • Usually found on imported items.
  • Rattan is furniture made using bamboo for the main frame parts that is then wrapped at the joints with split reed and woven between the frame with round or flat reeds.
  • Repairs to replace broken wrappings can be performed, with finish work as required.
  • Repairs to strength broken frame pieces can also be performed, with finish work as required.
  • Not much else can reasonably be repaired.


  • Usually found on imported and much older items.
  • Small diameter reed is woven between the frame parts that are usually made of round wood parts or even "branches" of trees.
  • Selected pieces can sometimes be repaired or replaced with finish work as required.
  • The main problem is that this material becomes extremely brittle with age and any repair might break more pieces than it replaces.
  • We do have a specialist for this type of work, it is extremely labor intensive and can take months to complete a repair project.

Care and Use:

Chairs that have any of the above types of seating should be protected against moisture from swimming suits, jogging outfits, and generally anything wet. In addition, they should never be used to stand on. Finally, they should be protected from snagging by anything sharp like pocket combs.


  • Many modern manufactured items with cane, usually press cane, were originally stained and finished along with the wood. Most older or antique items have cane that is natural in appearance, but has discolored from use and age.
  • In replacing such cane, decisions have to be made regarding whether to recreate the finish.
  • If the chair is being refinished and recaned, there is the decision whether to recane it before finishing or after.
  • New unfinished cane will appear much lighter in color, but it too will discolor naturally with age and use.
  • The top surface of the new cane, whatever kind is involved, is very hard and glossy. It therefore will not take a stain easily or very dark.
  • If the new cane is being finished along with refinishing the chair, the cane normally receives the same stain and lacquer coats. Since it will not take the stain very dark, we usually have to darken it with special applications of color in the lacquer.
  • If the new cane is being replaced in a chair without refinishing, and the desire is to finish the cane to blend with other chairs that might exist, then we have to mask off the cane area after it is applied. We then spray the area with toned color lacquers to approximate the other chairs.
  • A chair back requires this process to both the front and back surfaces.
  • Because of this process we must warn the client that such finish is susceptible to chipping and flaking if not used with care.

Want a bid to recaning your item?

If you have a digital camera, why don't you submit a bid request?

Take a picture from the front also showing a side, then take a picture from the back also showing the other side. Take a close up of any details or repairs needed. It is that simple.

IF the seat is caned and you don't kow the difference, take a picture of the bottom of the seat, also.

Email them to us using the form on our Contact Us page and be sure to include your city, state and zip.
Start your Subject Line with CHAIR CANING BID INQUIRY.


Press caning is usually done in 2-4 weeks
Hand caning is usually done in 4 +/- weeks.
Add one week if we are to finish the new cane to match other old cane.

Rush rope and Split Ash is usually done in 4 +/- weeks.

Other special requirements are determined when known.

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