Caning seats

Caning seats is a simple task--- something even I can do. Instructions are on-line and you may find it cheaper to buy cane from a supplier like H.H. Perkins or a local hobby shop and use golf tees (or buy some pegs) than to buy a kit.
There are probably YouTube videos, too. I believe the Indian Girls had the seven-step pattern, which is the pattern you see on chairs and is what the sheet-cane duplicates.

A nice indoor wintertime project!

Kathy lies.

I am caning seats NOW. I used the instructions that came with the HHPerkins catalogue. I had gotten stuck and the instructions were very helpful. The problem I am having is that some of the cane keeps breaking as I am finishing with the binder strip. I am trying to use cold water instead of hot as I am doing it in the barn and don't wnat to heat the water. I have fabric softener and some dish soap in the water. I think I am not soaking it long enough or well enough. And I find the process tedious. I think I have caned less that ten seats in my time working on canoes. So, I can safely speak with the authority that comes from lack of experience.

I take my time and go step by step and try to not get too mad when i have to take something out and start over.

Kathy, I normally think of you as very honest. =-]

YOu did mean weaving, right? Or did you mean sheet cane? Now that's easy.
I assume Sweetwater means weaving. Sheet cane is a pain, if the old spine has become one with the wood.

I never used warm water for soaking cane. Denis puts glycerin in the water-- that can help, but I never tried that before meeting him.

Maybe caning is one of those things where big man-hands have more problems than the dainty fingers of delicate ladies.
Now you're talking.

Hi Kathy. Sheet cane ain't so bad. You just have to get the groove clean. I am glad to know that the water doesn't have to be warm. I think I just didn't wait long enough for the cane to soak. Or I may have gotten a bad strand?
Glycerin sounds like a great idea. I have used it to soften and flatten veneer burls, but never on seat cane. I use warm water. I just put the whole batch of cane in the laundry sink and let it soak while I'm working. It is not difficult, kind of fun if you pay close attention. I once asked Mac McCarthy how long it took him. He said "about one baseball game". That seems about right if it isn't a no-hitter. I once took four dining chairs to be re-caned by a gentleman who was blind. He called the very next day to say they were ready. I've never seen a nicer job. One note, be sure to check the "grain" before you start weaving. Run your thumbnail along the top of the cane in each direction. You will find that your nail catches on the little bumps where the leaf grew going one direction, and not the other. Start the cane so that you pull it through the weaving in the direction that your thumbnail didn't catch. Also, for a long time I thought you needed to tie off with knots. That makes for a bumpy underside which makes tucking your feet under the seat in kneeling position more difficult. A simple loop under a previous strand on the bottom is sufficient. Jean Bratton is very skilled at caning. She teaches classes and has a wonderful hand-out. You might e-mail and ask what she charges for her printed instructions. (see Al Bratton on the WCHA board list)
A Wealth

thanks, this is very helpful. great tips. It usually takes me extra innings and a couple overtimes. I never considered the grain of the grass. And I always wondered why I couldn't just take a wrap under the neighboring cane.
Pre-woven Cane Replacement

I have found that soaking the seats with warm water really helps to remove the glue and splines in machine woven seats, assuming that some water soluble wood glue was used (strong suggestion/hint for people restoring seats here). Then cleaning the grooves with a sharp chisel is fairly straight forward.

Next tip is don't run the sharp chisel into the palm of your hand. The cost of the emergency room visit and the follow-up visits will exceed the cost of a pair of new seats. DAMHIKT :D:eek:

Although the Docs/Quacks did remark that it is a good thing that your tool was sharp - It makes stitching easier!!

I went back at it with my new information/knowledge. It went smoothly and both seats are now done and installed. Not so bad at all.
In addition to all the good advice posted here, I've found that keeping a spray bottle of water handy helps a lot. It's easier to weave the last one or two steps if the cain is kept wet. The only other tip I can think of is not to weave the first few steps too tightly. I did the first time and found the pattern too tight to complete the last step. The cain should flex about the thickness of the seat in those first two steps.
I've learned alot.

Thanks Andy, and all those that provided helpful hints. I did have a spray bottle handy as well as a sponge in the bucket to keep everything wet. It sure makes things go better.
If you can't schedule your caning during a game, you could download an audiobook from your library. Dick Francis is always good...