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Fix a Caned Chair

Q. My young son recently put his foot through the seat of a nice old caned chair. Is anyone still fixing these things?

A. Don’t despair; chair-caning is not a lost art. There are two kinds of caning, says Cathryn Peters, who runs a Web site dedicated to seat weaving and wicker repair (wickerwoman.com). The original method is “hole-to-hole,” in which thin strips of cane that have been soaked in water for pliability are woven by hand through holes drilled around the perimeter of a seat. A mechanized method developed in the 1870s uses “pressed,” or pre-woven, cane. It is woven by machine and available in sheets. After it has been cut to size and soaked, it is then pushed into a groove that has been routed around the perimeter of a seat and is held in place by a rattan reed called a spline.

The hole-to-hole method is more expensive because it takes more time—six to 12 hours as opposed to about an hour for installing a pre-woven seat.

“Both methods are durable and they last the same amount of time—we say anywhere from five to 25 years, depending on how much use the chair gets,” says Peters. However your chair was originally constructed will determine how it will be repaired. Peters doesn’t recommend altering a chair from holes to a groove or the other way around because it can weaken a chair and reduce its value.

A number of local pros can fix your chair, using either method (check out the Furniture Restoration listings in Design Sources at chicagohomemag.com). One such firm, Weber Furniture Service (5915 N. Ravenswood Ave., 773-275-1167, weberfurniture.com), takes on caning projects, along with other repairs, refinishing, and upholstery.

“We do just about everything in caning and rushing,” service manager JoAnn Schneidau says. “We can get all kinds of patterns and styles, even hard-to-find ones.” To repair a chair seat with a pre-woven panel costs $150 and up, depending on the size of the chair. The pricing on a hole-to-hole repair is $3.50 a hole and can cost twice as much as a pre-woven seat. It takes about six to eight weeks for hand caning, three to four weeks for pre-woven canings.

Elite Furniture Service (3421 Pearl St., McHenry, 815-759-1575) charges about $1.75 per hole for a hand-caned chair and about $125 for pre-woven cane repair. Owner Jeff Kleinschmidt says it can take from two to six weeks depending on the complexity of the project and how busy the shop is.

Sheryl DiCicco (1026 Jewett St., Woodstock, 815-338-6221) re-canes chairs in her own home. She charges four dollars per inch (measure across the diagonal of the seat) for a pre-woven seat and $1.25 per hole for a hole-to-hole repair. She tries to keep your chair for no longer than two weeks but if she’s very busy it will take longer.

Ackerman’s Refinishing and Upholstery (1525 Burgundy Pkwy., Streamwood, 630-736-8880, ackermans.com) charges $2.90 a hole for a hand-caned seat and $150 to $175 dollars for a pre-woven seat, according to general manager Todd Anderson. You can get the seat stained to match the rest of a set for another $25. On average, pre-woven caning will take about two weeks; hand caning jobs take about four weeks.

JUST ASK Have a design or renovation question? We’ll do our best to answer it.
E-mail us at chicagohome@chicagomag.com. Sorry, we cannot take questions by phone, or guarantee individual responses.

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