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A good caning can change a bad chair

August 23, 2007|NANCY YOSHIHARA

Question: I have two chairs identical to the canes shown in the photograph in the Home section ["Salvaged in Style"] from June 7. Could you send names of those who repaired the cane?

Joanne D. HaleStudio City

Answer: The chairs in the photo did not need repair; they were simply painted black. That's not to say, however, that we have no tips to share from two longtime, local caners -- Ann Dunstan of Ann's Cane Shop in Ventura and Caroline Fluty of Caning by Caroline in Culver City.

Each woman has been weaving cane -- the bark of a rattan palm -- for 30 years, so they know a thing or two about repairing and replacing chairs. "The chair tells you what you have to do," explains Dunstan, a third-generation caner.

"You can tell by the way the cane is attached to the chair," Fluty says. That attachment will determine the time and work required for a job.

Chairs with hand-woven cane have holes drilled into the seat frame. The cane is woven through these openings and looped round the frame's edge.

Pressed cane chairs have a groove instead of holes around the seat perimeter. The cane is prewoven, spread across the seat and pushed into the groove and held in place with glue and spline [a strip of wood], "just like a screen held into the frame with rubber beading," Dunstan explains.

Blind or French cane chairs have holes that are only partially drilled in the wood. Pegs hold the bindings in place.

The cost of repairs varies with the size and style of the chair. Generally, pressed cane repairs are the least expensive, hand-woven more expensive and blind cane the most costly.

Whether you need to repair the cane or replace it entirely depends on where the chair is damaged. Dunstan says a break on the back of a chair can be repaired by splicing in new cane pieces. A seat with a hole is best replaced or rewoven.

"The life of cane is eight to 18 years. After about 18 years, it really does begin to dry and sometimes get saggy," Fluty says. "It should be replaced before it breaks. I have heard horror stories of people at dinner going through chairs."

Ann's Cane Shop, (805) 648-6808; Caning by Caroline, (310) 450-4426.

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NANCY YOSHIHARA

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