Cane is one of many types of natural material that is woven into sheets and attached to furniture. Older cane furniture may have holes around the perimeter so that the cane can be woven directly to the chair. More modern examples use cane fabric and a spline technique to hold the cane to the chair. The spline chair will have a groove around the chair opening, making it easy to identify. Most novice homeowners can replace the fabric and spline.
Cut off the remaining cane fabric using a sharp utility knife. Move the utility knife along both sides of the buried spline to cut through some of the adhesive holding the spline and remaining cane inside the groove.
Position the chair at a level where you can sit and work comfortably. Pry up the end of the spline using a narrow wood chisel. Place the chisel under the spline at a 20-degree angle and tap with a hammer to cut the adhesive and lift the spline. Work your way around the entire opening. Keep the chisel pointed away from you at all times.
Remove the remaining cane using the chisel and hammer. Be careful not to cut chunks out of the wood. When most of the material is removed, use the chisel as a scraper to clean up the track. Fold 80-grit sandpaper the size of the channel and sand the channel to remove the remaining material.
Measure the groove length with a fabric tape measure. Cut spline 2 inches longer than the length of the groove. For round-cornered grooves, soak the spline in warm water for a few minutes to make it bendable. For sharp corners, cut the spline on a miter in the corners and place each piece in the groove all around to check your fit.
Cut your cane fabric so that it extends 2 inches past the groove on each side. Dip the fabric three times in warm water to make it wet. Place the wet cane over the opening, with the opening laying flat. Line up the pattern on the cane so that it appears straight. Often the opening isn’t square, so this is a visual check to make the pattern look correct.
Tap a wooden rounded cane wedge into the groove at the top center, bottom center, left center and right center. The fabric should be taut, but not tight. The wet cane will shrink as it dries. Press the cane into the groove with wooden wedges and a hammer. The cane will stay in the groove once it is hammered in. Remove your wedge and move to the next section. When you reach your holding wedges, remove them and continue until your cane is tight in the groove and empty of wedges.
Cut the excess cane fabric. Hold a flat sharp chisel horizontal and half- way up the outer edge of the groove. Tap the chisel with the hammer to cut through the fabric. Move the chisel and cut the next piece. Continue until you cut away all of the excess fabric.
Apply a bead of carpenter’s glue into the groove over the cane. Start your spline at a corner or at the bottom center. At the bottom center, cut the end on a 45-degree angle. Press the spline into the groove. Use a hammer and flat punch to help press the spline up against the cane on the bottom of the groove. Continue until you reach your starting point. Trim your spline at a 45-degree angle to match your first cut. Allow the chair 48 hours to dry and shrink before using the chair.