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YoBob's avatar

A question about chair caning - How is the cane cut?

Asked by YoBob (12783 points ) June 20th, 2011

In my ongoing affliction with arcane arts, I am currently working on my latest project, a wood strip canoe. This canoe will sport a traditional woven cane seat. The weaving process seems straightforward enough and supplies are readily available through multiple sources. However, a part of my fascination with arcane arts goes a bit beyond being able do something the old fashioned way. The real fascination comes from knowledge of the transformation of the raw materials into something useful.

In the case of chair caning, I am wondering how the cane is transformed from stalks of bamboo into the hanks of cane used to weave a chair seat. Mainly, I am wondering how the knuckles on the bamboo are dealt with. If you look at a bamboo rod, every foot or so there is a “knuckle”. I would think that these would cause problems with being able to produce the nice clean uniform strips used for chair cane.

I know it’s a long shot, but anybody out there know anything about how bamboo is transformed from its raw form into strips suitable for caning a chair?

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8 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I am just taking a guess,but would the strips be planed in some way to make them uniform?

YoBob's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille – Perhaps. OTOH, the cane has a nice slick surface, which is one of the things that makes it such a good material for the purpose. I would think that planing would destroy that surface.

YoBob's avatar

Found this article.

Perhaps I’m thinking the process is more involved than it actually is. According to that article they just split it, strip off the outer skin (the usable part), and cut it to uniform width, while generally ignoring the fact that there are “knuckles” on the stalk.

I still can’t help but wonder if there isn’t more to it than that. Are there special varieties of cane/bamboo that are more suitable than others?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@YoBob …and I thought I liked projects!
I’d bet that there is.Have you looked into woven rope seats?I have seen canoes with that type of seat also.Of course,that wouldn’t last near as long but it looked nice.
I think wooden slats would be very cool too.I suppose one would steam them to get a curve?
The canoe I have now is orange fiberglass and heavy as hell.Very unattractive,but it has a good personality.XD

YoBob's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille – Wood seats might last longer, but would also be heaver. In a review of the particular canoe building book I am reading the reviewer mentioned the cane seats and stated “Once you try traditional cane seats you will never go back”.

Besides, bamboo grows wild around here so it is another opportunity to geek out turning a stick into something fabulous. :)

BTW, how long is your canoe? I’m currently thinking of doing a something between 14’ and 16’. I want enough canoe to handle two people and gear on a weekender trip, but not so large that one person would have a hard time handling it on an afternoon at the lake.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@YoBob -You know,I do not know the measurments.It does seat two and a….boatload of beer! XD
I would be tempted to use the bamboo growing there too! How cool is that! I imagine it would have to be dried before using? Or could you just use it straight away? I wonder if it shrinks at all? Bamboo must be fairly water resistant? Does it conform to one’s arse? If so,are you forever locked into being the rudderman or seated at the bow?Unless the other oarsman has a smaller arse,then one might be able to switch seats with minimum discomfort?? :)

YoBob's avatar

Don’t know about processing dry vs. green. That’s the sort of stuff I’m hoping some jellie with knowledge of this arcane art might provide.

As I understand it, the comfort of the cane seats comes from the fact that it is a loose weave so there is plenty of air flow and it is moderately flexible so it will conform to whomever’s arse occupies the seat.

(Of course, beer hauling capacity will definitely need to be considered in the design phase…)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@YoBob I hope you get your answer.Perhaps an upholsterer will have the info you need.
It sounds like a fun project! Then to be able to launch a paddle it? It doesn’t get any better than that!
Good luck:)

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