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The History of Chair Caning

History of cane chairThe history of cane furniture is a long one. This art has been practiced for centuries and dates all the way back to ancient Egypt, with artifacts like King Tutankhamen’s woven daybed. Over the last three millennia, the types of chair caning and the materials used haven’t changed drastically. Furniture caning is a craft still used today from the same rattan palm used centuries ago.

What is Chair Cane?

Chair cane is made up of the stem or trunk of the rattan palm, of the genus Calamus Rotan. While there are hundreds of species of rattan, only a few are durable and beautiful enough to serve for the types of chair caning. The rattan palm grows in Far Eastern tropics, like Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, China, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

The stalks themselves are uniform in diameter, usually ½” to 1 ½ inches and incredibly flexible. While rattan can grow to as long as 600 feet, 150-300 feet is a normal length for the plant in its natural jungle habitat. There are now commercial processing plants throughout Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as in Europe.

How is Chair Cane Used for Furniture?

After rattan is processed, it’s used primarily for weaving chair seats, as it has been throughout cane furniture’s history. Rattan can also be used to create larger pieces of furniture as well, including loveseats and couches.

The main form of chair caning process is hole-to-hole traditional hand caning, which is what you’ll see in most chairs. There are also two other types of chair caning: spline, machine or cane webbing, where an entire sheet of rattan cane is inserted around the perimeter of a chair seat and held in place with glue and reed spline. The last type of chair caning is porch cane or wide binding cane, where seats are woven around the seat dowels of chairs or rockers using wide strips of cane to form a double layer of weaving.

Repairing Chair Cane

All these different types of chair caning are still used today. However, the practice is not as common as it once was, and finding masters to repair cane chairs is becoming more difficult. Aaron’s Touch Up is one of the few furniture repair companies with thorough experience repairing chairs and rattan furniture. If you have new or heirloom cane furniture that’s been damaged, there’s no need to throw it away. Get in touch with us to schedule a consultation for repairing your cane furniture today.