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Is Re-caning Furniture A DIY?

Do you have a piece of furniture that needs caning replaced? If you’re wondering if furniture caning is a DIY or something you should seek professional help with, read on.
Salvation Army thrift store chairs are given a makeover with paint and fabric.
One of my favorite thrifted finds was a set of cane back chairs from the Salvation Army. My husband thought I had lost my mind when I bought brought six outdated chairs home one day, especially since one of them had a gaping hole in the cane….
I was going to have the cane professionally replaced, but after reading this chair recaning tutorial at Miss Mustard Seed, written by Suesan of Frou FruGal, I figured it was worth a try for me to re-cane it myself. I followed Suesan’s recaning tutorial step by step and although my chair is not perfect, I think it came out pretty darn good for my first attempt!
I gave these chairs a makeover in 2014, hence the chevron fabric and dark dining room set you see in some of these pictures (I’ve since stripped and limed our dining table), however even though my house has evolved through the years I still love this project. 
After I replaced the caning on that one chair, I repainted the whole set, recovered the seats and we used these sturdy chairs for several years! The one I had re-caned wasn’t even noticeable once they were all painted and cleaned up!
A Craigslist table with an outdated finish gets a newly stained walnut top and black pedestal bases.
A Craigslist dining table makeover story.
Suesan’s tutorial includes removing the existing caning and then replacing it with new materials. The hardest part of this job was removing the caning without ruining the chair frame.
Replacing the cane was not difficult, just a bit tedious. (Hard = cutting angles for stairwell board and batten or getting miter cuts for crown molding perfect. Gah.)
Here’s a peek at what recaning entails: new caning is soaked until pliable, then forced into a groove on the piece of furniture with a wood shim. The caning is held in place with wood glue and a reed called a spline.
I was really focused on making the caning as tight as possible, and as a result, I didn’t notice until I was completely done that it got a bit crooked. 
My one take away is to constantly keep checking to make sure the cane is straight. Once I had the sides done and the cane was nice and tight, I wasn’t willing to start over! The crookedness did not end up being very noticeable but learn from my mistake. I’m still happy with the end result!! 
My supplies amounted to $16.80. I’m estimating I saved myself in the area of $80-100 based on the cost incurred by friends to have chairs recaned locally! I bought the materials from this supplier
If you’re considering re-caning, give it a try!  If I can do it so can you!!


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Suesan Kennard

Monday 7th of April 2014

Lisa, great job and I'm so glad my tutorial helped you out! I have found over the years that those little imperfections become less noticeable. I'm glad you have it a shot. I often believe my greatest talent isy willingness to try something new.

Cyndy Aldred

Wednesday 2nd of April 2014

Hi five girl! That is so awesome that you dove in and tried it. You are so right and once you do it, it's the best feeling.

Nancy {at} powellbrower at home

Wednesday 2nd of April 2014

Very good to know and a beautiful job Lisa!! I thought you were going to MAKE the caning, and really was going to send prayers. I didn't know you could by the caning like that. Your chairs look fantastic! Have a great week. xo Nancy

Alison Fauls

Wednesday 2nd of April 2014

I think on the rare occasions that you notice the crooked you will recall with a smile that you recaned that chair by yourself #smugsatisfaction Thanks for letting us know that it can be done by non-professionals.

Kris @ Driven by Décor

Wednesday 2nd of April 2014

Girl, you are good! The way that you are willing to tackle any project is crazy inspirational. I'm wanting to hear more about how the table saw goes - that's something I haven't tackled but would love to get the guts to do someday!