Rejuvenating and Caring for Your Cane Furniture


Rattan and cane furniture are back on home decor trends this year and that means it’s time to dust and rejuvenate those old furniture pieces. You can search for “furniture repair near me” and hire professionals for the job. Otherwise, you can use the following steps to do the same by putting in your own time and effort.

The Details

1. Tools – Before you start cleaning and rejuvenating your cane furniture, you need to arm yourself with the right tools. Here’s a list of tools you would need for the job:

  • Fabric scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Chair cane
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Methylated spirits
  • Measuring tape
  • Wire wool
  • Electric drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Staple gun
  • Linseed oil
  • Sharp knife
  • Sponge
  • Thread

You’ll get chair cane from cane suppliers and the specifications would depend on your furniture piece. Ask the cane supplier about the quantity and size of cane you’ll need.

2. Remove old cane and finish – Remove the old and brittle cane from the old chair by carefully drilling into every hold at an inclined angle the original cane was weaved through. When you drill the holes carefully and remove all the strands, you’ll need to strip the wooden frame. If your cane chair is very old, it’s best to leave the striping process to professionals. If done improperly, it can reduce the antique value of the chair. Moreover, if the old patina is in good condition, it’s best to leave it that way.

There are several ways to remove the old finish. One of the best ways is with wire wool. Soak the wire wool in methylated spirits and clean away the old lacquer slowly. If your old cane furniture is not an antique and you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, you can choose the crude method of scraping away the old lacquer with a sharp knife. Be very careful not to cut into the wood. When most of the lacquer is gone, sand it down with 100 grit sandpaper. 

3. Start weaving – Cane weaving isn’t easy and that’s very apparent from the six stages required for the job. At first, there would be vertical strands from the front to the back rails of the seat. Next, you’ll need to weave horizontal strands from the side to side via opposite holes and then repeat a set of vertical strands laid out to one side of the first set of vertical strands. 

In the next stage, you’ll need to wave horizontal strands through the side rail holes like before. However, this time they need to be weaved to bind all the previous three strands together. These first four stages are known as settings and in the next “stages”, you’ll do “crossings”.

4. Diagonal weaving – In stage five, you need to weave strands diagonally through the squares created by your “settings”. You don’t need to worry too much about the strands running from left to right or right to left. You’ll have the sixth stage to go in the opposite direction. After the sixth stage, you’ll get a strong star pattern. There are other ways of achieving the same pattern. For instance, early Europeans used a more advanced “steamer” method to weave horizontal strands simultaneously. However, it’s not recommended for beginners.

5. Examine upholstery – Check out the old upholstery to figure out how it was made. Note down all the details including the welting, skirt, and even the button placement. Poke into the seams to figure out if they are sewn, stapled, or tacked. Next, figure out the piece of fabric that would be removed first. This fabric would be at the top or at the bottom of the chair.

Carefully, pry it loose so that you don’t rip the cover. You’ll need it later on. Pin a piece of paper to mark the location of the cover and the cover on the chair. Keep making notes and taking pictures to figure out how the fabric is attached to the frame without disturbing the stuffing or batting underneath.

You may need to smooth out the padding if you notice any lumps. If the cushion is in decent condition, there’s no need to remove the casing. Otherwise, the stuffing would lose shape. You don’t need to go through this step with such care if you plan to completely replace the upholstery with something new. This step is done to replicate the upholstery as closely as possible and preserve the value of antique cane furniture pieces.

6. Use the old covering as a pattern – Take the old covering and flatten it out. Arrange the shapes on your new fabric and make sure that the new fabric has a texture that runs in the right direction of the chair. While you cut the fabric, keep a headroom of 2 cm around each segment. Next, place the fabric on the cushion and trace around it.

Measure the sides and mark out the strips along with an extra inch to account for seams. Cut out the old parts and keep them along with their replacement so that you can identify them. Next, place the base panels and pin them together. The corners should have a snug fit around each leg. After that, you can tack and machine stitch them as necessary.

7. Tack the casing – Before you cover the cushion, tack the casing to make sure it fits. Machine stitch the seams with an opening at the back for inserting the contents. To make a clean finish, turn the casing inside out and sew a couple of millimeters around each seam. This flattens the seams while keeping them secure. If the fabric is susceptible to fraying, do zig-zag stitching along all the raw edges.    


Cane furniture used to be quite popular back in the day. Now that they are back in trend, you can use the above-mentioned steps to bring them out of storage and breathe new life into them. However, if things seem too tedious, you can always search for “furniture repair near me” and hire pros to do the same job.