Cane Furniture

Porch Nook's "Object Lessons" is a series of short articles sharing my vintage and antique finds over the years, containing just enough information to make you dangerous at the local flea market.* Happy hunting!

Porch Nook | Vintage Victorian Walnut Ladder Back Parlor Side Chair with Round Hand Caned Seat

Cane furniture is making a comeback and timeless as ever. With its airy nature, it becomes the perfect candidate for adding texture and elegance to your home. If you know me, you know I can’t walk away from a vintage** piece where the original hand cane is intact and as strong as when it was first created.

The more I learn about the caning process, the more I appreciate the artform. It isn’t just a material; cane is a timeless pattern instantly recognized and a perfect example of what can be achieved with a delicate hand, patience and experience.

While strolling through a flea market or scouting weekly auctions, I generally come across three caning techniques.

 

Hand Cane

As the name suggests, weaving is done by hand without automation. Each piece of strand cane (also called “Cane Webbing“, “Rattan Reed“, “Paper Fiber Rush“, "Natural Rush“, “Oak“ or “Hickory Bark Splint“, and “Paracord“) are attached to the chair using holes previously drilled into the wood of the chair seat. Seeing the strands woven up and down the holes signify this piece is hand cane.

 

Along the top of the seat and the edge of the weave, a strip of cane is used to cover the holes. This strip of cane is then looped down and through these holes.

Porch Nook | Vintage Victorian Walnut Hand Caned Stool available at PorchNook.com

 

 

Sheet Cane

Also called “Pressed Cane”, this process involves a pre-woven cane supplied in sheets. Ideal for those interested in repairing a piece of cane furniture at home. Sheet caning kits, like this one, can easily be found online and provide most of the tools you need.

 Pressed Cane Webbing Kit 5/8" Medium Open Mesh with splines, Wedges and Instructions
(Pressed Cane Webbing Kit 5/8" Medium Open Mesh with splines, Wedges and Instructions. Disclosure: I receive commission for purchases made using Amazon links in my article. I appreciate your support!)

 

The sheets are installed by pressing them into a continuous groove in the wood of the chair’s seat.

Bottom of sheet cane chair seat
(Bottom of sheet cane chair seat.)

 

Along the top of the seat and the edge of the weave, a strip of cane is used to cover the cut edge of the sheet. Unlike hand cane, this strip of cane has no loops holding it in place.  Rather, you will see only one continuous strand of rattan framing the weave.

Pressed Cane Webbing Kit 5/8" Medium Open Mesh with splines, Wedges and Instructions
(Top of sheet cane chair seat.)

 

 

French Cane

Also called “Blind” or “Continental Cane”, French cane can be a little trickier to identify. Individual cane strands are placed by hand into drilled holes; however, these holes do not go all the way through the wood framework.

Vintage Montgomery Fan Back Rocking Chair, with Caning in Mahogany available at PorchNook.com

 

Instead, each length of cane is cut to the exact length of the framework and held into the holes using glue and plastic pegs until set.

(Individual strand of cane glued into framework)
(Individual strand of cane glued into framework)

 

Having to wait for the glue to set between each weaving step makes this a time intensive and delicate process.

held into the holes using glue and plastic pegs until set.
(Individual strands of cane held into the holes using glue and plastic pegs until set)

 

Cane chairs have a history which gives them a sense of prestige and uniqueness.  You, too, can elevate the atmosphere in your own home with this timeless trend. Check out Porch Nook’s collection of cane furniture.

The more I learn about the caning process, the more I appreciate the artform. It isn’t just a material; cane is a timeless pattern instantly recognized and a perfect example of what can be achieved with a delicate hand, patience and experience.

 

*For the sake of transparency, Porch Nook in not an antiquities dealer, nor do I specialize in antiques. However, for many years I've gained experience acquiring and selling old stuff and hung around a lot of people who also like to acquire and sell old stuff. I gotta tell'ya, they're my kind of people...smart, creative, not shy and will tell you what's what. 

**The common expectation of a "VINTAGE" item is to have a date or decade applied to it. Accordingly, most experts in the trade have decided that the term "VINTAGE" refers to items that are over 50 years old, but less than 100. This kind of standard works when dealing with truly old, but not antique, items. However, this falls short when using the term to describe something newer, and from a specific era. For example, Etys.com's policy states any item at least 20 years old to be “VINTAGE”. Click here to learn more about the differences between "ANTIQUE" and "VINTAGE".

 


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