Hard words to utter, especially coming from a fixer upper kinda gal like me, but the cost of moving cross country was enormous and we were trying to lighten the load.
“Absolutely NOT!”, Mr. OTN stated emphatically. “This is a family treasure and we can fix it.”
This? A treasure?
A big hole in the seat, water damage from being left out on the porch, joints coming apart where the screws had rusted through. But he was right, it is a treasure to me. As I shared in a previous POST, this was the chair where I spent many hours as a young girl, rocking and dreaming about places far away. The rocker was in the old lake cabin my parents purchased over a half century ago, and it was old even then.
So at hubby’s insistence, along she came with us on our journey to the South.
These are Mr. OTN’s step-by-step instructions for Recaning a Vintage Chair. Though I had my doubts (the hubby has never showed much interest in being involved in my furniture hobby) he ended up having a lot of fun bringing this old girl back to life.
Materials used with links to purchase are shown at the end of this post. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase through my links.
Step 1: Remove old caning
Mr. OTN began by cutting away as much of the old caning as possible, followed by tucking hot water soaked rags down into the crevices to soften the old glue and allow for easier removal of the rest of the caning and the old wooden stays.
In this picture you can see that Mr. OTN used clothespins to tuck the rags down into the channels.
Once the glue was very soft he used a caning chisel to scrape away remaining glue, caning, and stray bits of wood. This required persistence and continued hot water soaks. To speed up the process we found my portable garment steamer to be quite helpful!
After allowing the chair to dry Mr. OTN cleaned up the remaining glue with his Dremel tool. Using the correct attachment for the Dremel is critical if you as you do not want to change the width of the grooves.
Step 2: Repairing the chair
This chair was coming apart at the seams due to heavy water damage . . .
. . . and we quickly realized that the screws that held the arms in place were rusted through completely.
Mr. OTN decided to use a wooden dowel instead of another screw for the repair. First he drilled a hole large enough for the dowel, drilling from the back of the chair all the way through into the arm.
Then he painted some wood glue on the end of the arm where it would attach to the back and also inside the hole.
Wood glue is your best friend on any woodworking project!
He inserted the dowel from the back of the chair through into the arm, trimmed the dowel flush to the back of the chair, added a little wood putty and sanded it smooth once it dried.
I stepped in here and cleaned things up a bit, using bleach on the black stained areas before painting the chair with two layers of paint. I used a Behr (Home Depot) clearance paint that we found in the garage of our new home (a no name paint) followed by a Behr knock-off of Annie Sloan’s Provence mixed according to my recipe for Home Made Chalk Paint.
Step 3: Caning
Mr. OTN began by cutting the caning to size plus 2-3″ of overlap. He then soaked the piece in hot water for approximately 30 minutes.
The tools he used for this part were clothes pins (a substitute for caning wedges) and a rubber mallet.
He pounded the halved clothes pins into the grooves in the chair, being careful to keep the cane as straight as possible.
Just like stretching a tapestry he put a couple of clothes pins on one side (back), stretched the cane taught, and put a couple of clothes pins on the other side (front). He did the two sides in the same manner.
Strips of wood spline are used to hold the cane in place. Mr. OTN cut four lengths to size, angling the cuts so they would match at the corners. Then he soaked the strips in hot water for 15 minutes to make them easier to work with.
He applied a generous amount of wood glue in the channel and laid the first piece of spline in place.
Next he pounded it down with a rubber mallet. Once the strip was firmly in place he removed the clothes pins. Make sure and remove the wedges before the glue dries.
Here is the second strip in place. Notice the nicely mitred corners 🙂
After adding spline to all four sides, Mr. OTN trimmed off the excess caning as closely as he could with sharp scissors . . .
. . . followed up with a box knife to trim off stragglers, and a sand paper block to smooth off rough edges.
And now, here are a few pictures of the final reveal!
Thank you Mr. OTN Cutie, for the wonderful job you did on restoring this family treasure. YOU are my treasure 😉
Links to caning supplies (not linked are common supplies such as scissors, rags, small paintbrush, rubber mallet, drill, sandpaper, etc.):
VMG206, TuesdaysAtOurHome, TheWinthropChronicles, Dream.Create.Inspire.Link, Rich Faith Rising Unite Linky,Time Warp Wife, Testimony Tuesday,Cheerleaders of Faith,Tell His Story