Refinish Furniture

Wicker Furniture Repair and Description

Conventional Weave  CaneConventional Weave Cane
Rattan cane is exceptionally durable, making it the best choice for heavy-duty uses like chair seats. Minimum order is 12 lineal inches. Can be made flexible by soaking in water...

Conventional Weave Cane

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Whether you say wicker furniture repair or repair rattan furniture you're pretty much saying the same thing, but technically speaking you probably should be saying repair reed, but not very many people do so we'll drop the repair reed term.

Wicker furniture is very durable and when it is kept clean and properly taken care of will last for many, many years. Sometimes though, it will be necessary to Refinish a piece of rattan furniture.


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3rd Generation Wicker Porch Swing Repair

We have worked on wicker furniture that has been documented through family histories to be well over a hundred years old.

One of our biggest wicker furniture repair jobs was a porch swing that had been in a family for three generations and was only about 1/2 remaining. That's when the wicker repair job gets tricky, because in some areas there was very little pattern left to follow. Luckily though, with the pattern that was left and by reversing the pattern from one end to work on the other end we managed to get it all together.

Reed is the material that wicker furniture is made from. Reed comes from rattan which is a type of climbing palm that is very long and so it is good for continuous strips of reed. The reed may be round, half round, oval or flat, in many widths and diameters 1/16" up to 5/8" and you may find sizes larger and smaller. See the pictures of reed.

The reed is used to make wickerwork, which is the correct term for anything made from weaving reed, willow (or other type) branches, or any other material that can be woven into a useful item. We'll use repair rattan furniture and repair wicker furniture interchangably since it doesn't make any difference in the feel when you sit in it. Wicker furniture is flexible and resilient, so will conform to the various bony or padded areas of different people.

Repair Your Own Wicker Furniture

If you have a world of patience and can tie your own shoes you should be able to make your own wicker furniture repairs. You will find people who say it's very difficult and you shouldn't try it, but if you don't try, you'll never know if you can do it. Generally those who say you can't do it either want to do the work for you and charge you a bunch or have velcro fasteners on their shoes.

Basket Weaving

Basket weaving is a good way to learn to work with rattan reed. There are basket weaving kits available at very reasonable prices that will give you practice with weaving rattan, then when you get through with your practice you have a really nice basket for utility, decoration or to give away as a gift.

Practice with a basket will give you a good working idea of how the weave holds the item together and determines the shape of whatever you're weaving.

Once you've mastered a basket and have done a rattan wicker repair, you might even decide to make a little wicker table and work into something larger. It's fun and relaxing. Don't force yourself or it can become tedious. Just slow down and relax and watch the shape that's forming in front of you as you weave. I'm going limp just thinking about it.

Basic Wicker Furniture Construction

Most pieces of Wicker furniture consist of a frame, held together mainly by imagination, as a base for the rattan reed weaving. There are some pieces which have very sturdy fitted joints in the frame, but they aren't in the majority.

Be sure to repair the frame and get it as sturdy as you can before you do the wicker repair.

If any of the reed is damaged and has to be removed, take pictures and have the film developed before you remove any of the reed. Draw diagrams on paper of any weave patterns that you will be working on, it will help you to understand the weave patterns better. Always be sure to have your hand drawn diagrams and clear photos before you do anything. Take close up pictures that show the weave patterns clearly and pictures of the whole piece, showing the damage, so you can brag about your wicker repair job afterward.

Cane Seats

Cane furniture seats are a whole different story and will be covered in another area. Cane is strips taken from rattan reed and is used to weave chair seats, backs and many decorative pieces. Rattan is quite strong in itself, but when many strands or reeds are put together the result is more strength. One time a couple came into our shop and told me that they had some antique chairs with woven cane seats, but they were concerned that the cane wouldn't be strong enough, so wanted to have wood pieces padded and upholstered and screwed to the chair seats where the cane seat should have gone.

I explained to them how the screw holes in their antique chairs would diminish the value of the chairs.

I had just gotten through hand weaving a set of chair seats, which is a very tedious and time consuming job, but to show the strength of the seats I hauled up my 180 pounds of stuff attached to 6 feet of bones and things and stood on the cane seat. That convinced them. I sold another cane chair seat weaving job. I don't recommend that anyone use a cane seat chair to change a light bulb or to stand on it for any other reason, because the seat may be old and brittle or may have a flaw and you could go through it and break a leg or some other dire circumstance.

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