Whether it’s a chair seat or larger cane panel like the one seen in the photo above, learning how to replace cane webbing can be a rewarding do it yourself project.
What is Cane Webbing
Cane webbing is a pre-woven sheet of cane that is available in different sizes. Existing cane webbing is easily identified on furniture by the spline, which you’ll find around the perimeter. Cane webbing is also known as pressed cane, pre-woven cane, sheet cane, and machine cane.
On this page you’ll see how I replaced the cane webbing on the headboard of a bed. Hopefully you’ll pick up a few tips here to use if you ever decide to take on the task yourself. However, please consider this a basic overview and not a complete how to guide. For more information on how to replace cane webbing I recommend checking out these books and DVDs.
Here are the 7 basic steps I use to replace cane webbing.
Step 1 – Measure and Order Materials
I first measure the size of the holes in the existing cane webbing so I can order a match. As for the overall size, I order 2-4 inches larger than the area that needs to be replaced. I also measure the width of the groove that the spline fits into. The new spline I’ll order will be slightly smaller than the groove. For example, with a 1/4 inch groove I order a 3/16 inch spline.
Step 2 – Remove the Old Cane & Spline
Most of the old cane webbing is easily cut out with scissors or a utility knife. However, removing the old spline from the groove usually takes more time and physical strength. Using a narrow chisel I cut and pry out as much of the old material as possible.
Step 3 – Sand the Groove and Edges
I make sure the groove is completely cleaned out by scraping it clean with the chisel. I also sand it with 80 grit sandpaper. Sometimes I wrap the sandpaper around a thin piece of wood to help make sanding the groove easier. Any sharp edges that the new cane webbing might rub against also get sanded.
Step 4 – Soak the New Cane & Spline
To make the sheet of new cane and spline more pliable, I soaked them in hot water. Usually for 30 – 60 minutes. This allows the material to be bent and fitted with less risk of breakage during installation.
While waiting for the materials to soak, I get together the following items:
- Caning wedge
- Wood glue
Those things I’ll need within reach when installing the new cane.
Step 5 – Install the Cane Webbing
Fresh out of the hot water, I lay the new cane sheet over the area to be caned. I then square up and align as needed.
While holding it in place, I carefully pressed the cane down into the groove with a wooden wedge. I find it best to gradually work the cane down, rather than force it all at once. Otherwise the material is apt to break.
When the cane is fitted and pressed fully into the groove, there will be excess overhanging the outer edge.
Step 6 – Trim the Excess
Using a sharp chisel I trim the overhang to just below the top of the outside edge.
In more detail – cane webbing is properly installed when it goes down into the groove, across the bottom and back up the other side of the groove. There it is trimmed just below the edge and then ready to be fitted with the spline.
Step 7 – Install the Spline
Just before installing the spline, I apply a thin line of glue that runs down each side of the groove. If you do this, just remember that the groove is not a moat, and does not need to be be filled with glue.
With the tapered edge down I fit the spline into the groove by hand. The ends of the spline are trimmed to fit tight so there are no gaps.
The spline then gets seated further into the groove with a hammer and a narrow piece of wood. I prefer the top of the spline to end up flush, but sometimes that’s not possible.
The excess glue is cleaned up with a damp cloth and the project is then allowed to dry for at least 24 hours. After this dry-out time the new cane is nice and tight. It can then be used as is, or colored to match if needed.