Cane seat maintenance

Dave Harlos

New Member
Hello everyone,

I have cane seats on my 20 year old Old Town (at least the seats are wood) and they're showing some wear. Is there any mainteanace required - oil, varnish etc? I use it in the ocean as well as fresh water.

Thanks in advance.

Vancouver BC
Search back through the archives...there has been considerable discussion on cane seats. Some use varnish and others use oil. What exactly are you seeing...maybe the varnish cracking off? If that happens, water can get in and stain the cane. My personal experience has been only oil, it won't crack, seems to penetrate better and the cane remains somewhat pliable. Anytime I see varnished cane I strip it off and oil with Watco.

Thanks Ric,

A couple of broken canes but in good shape generally. I just want to keep them that way as long as possible. Thanks for the advice and I'll go though the archives.

Tung Oil, twice a year(when coming out of storage and goin in to staortage).

Russ G.
Cane & Canvas
"On the Pemaquid River"
I've got some 75 year-old cane seats and only a couple of the individual strands are broken. Is there a way to reinforce these where they have broken and keep using them until they fail, or should I look to replace the cane now?
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I don't know of any way to reinforce broken cane so your options are probably just ignore it or replace it. It is probably all ready to be replaced if it is 75 years old.


Well, that's what I figured, but was hoping for something like, "You just need to spray it with seven coats of Aqua-Net hairspray and it'll be as good as new."
The hairspray-idea may buy you some time... tell the folks you paddle with, "it's an experiment, and if it doesn't work out I'll re-cane the seats.... but I have to give it a summer or so..."
Are there people who I can send them to for re-caning without spending a fortune, or should I just plan on learning a new skill?
When I was less then half my current age, I taught myself to cane chair seats using Ruth Comstock's book, which H.H. Perkins still carries, I believe... and I was able to make a little money caning chairs through an antiques shop.

In other words... this is one of the easier-to-accomplish aspects of canoe restoration. These days, you can Google the instructions.

An interesting historical aspect is that some canoe companies used patterns other than the traditional seven-step.
Canerodz said:
Are there people who I can send them to for re-caning without spending a fortune, or should I just plan on learning a new skill?

Sure, and someone just post a classified ad offering to do just that. Expect to pay about $1 to $1.50 per hole for hand woven cane.

More fun to learn a new skill. Heck if you can build a cane rod, you can cane a seat...:)