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Weaving a Traditional Chair Seat with Rattan Splint
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Traditional rattan splint woven chair back Traditional weaving can add a nice look and functionality to your next chair project.

The seat and back panel of this rocker are woven with rattan splint (flat reed), available from Connecticut Cane and Reed (www.caneandreed.com). Three hanks should be enough to weave one chair.

Tools for hand weaving on chairs The tools you need to complete the weaving include a desk stapler, scissors, needlenose pliers, spring clamp, measuring tape, a sharp knife and masking tape.

Soak a hank of splint in a tub of warm water for about an hour before you use it.Then open it up, bend a strand, and examine it. You’ll notice that one side has loose fibers lifting from it, and the other side is smoother with fewer lifting fibers. Arrange every strand you weave so the smoother surface faces upward.

A chair seat weave consists of two elements. The “warp” is the pattern of strands that runs between the front and back rungs. The “weave” is the pattern of strands woven perpendicular to the warp.

Setting rectangle on chair seat with warp strands 1. Use warp strands to establish a rectangle in the center of the chair's seat, making it as wide as the distance between the back posts and square at each corner.

Tape the starting end of the first warp strand to the side rung as shown in Photo 1. Feed the warp up under the front rung, over it, then back around the back rung in a loop. Repeat these loops until you’ve filled the central rectangle of the seat.The final warp strand should pass over the front rung, then under, to the back of the side rung where you can tape it off.

Fastening warp strand edges with staples 2. To splice on a new warp strand, invert the chair and lap 8" of a new strand over the final eight inches of the old strand and staple them together with three staples.

Note: If you have to splice in a new length of warp, simply lap the first eight or so inches of the new warp over the last eight inches of the old warp and staple the two together (see Photo 2).

Wrapping weaves around the warps 3. Use the weaver to fill the space between the posts on top of the seat, the strand should go over three and under three wraps, then tuck both ends under.

Now you can thread the first weaver into place between the warp strands (see Photo 3).

Long weaving across the seat bottom 4. Start the first long weaving on the bottom of the seat using the same over and under pattern, bring it around the side rung and work back into the warp again.

Before you dive into the other weavers, study Photo 4 for a few minutes. Notice that each new strand of weaver enters into the warp one warp strand forward from the point of entrance of the previous weaver strand.

Installing gusset strips into the weaving 5. Insert gusset strips to fill the triangular sections of the seat on both sides of the rectangle, working the strips using the same pattern as before. Wrap the strip over the front rung, then weave them on the bottom sides of the seat and tuck the ends under. A butter knife can help feed into tight spaces.

Add gusset strips to fill the triangular sections of the seat (see Photo 5).

If you make a mistake with your weavers (and you probably will), nothing is lost. Simply pull out weavers until you reach the mistake.Then reweave. Also, an occasional weaving mistake is a cosmetic issue only. If, after you’ve finished the seat, you find a weaving mistake in the first few rows of weavers, it isn’t structurally necessary to unweave the whole seat and start the process over again.

Although I splice weavers on both the top and bottom surfaces of chairs, most chairmakers splice on the bottom only. There’s no need to staple the weavers; the tightness of the weave will hold the splice together.

Weaving through tight areas on seat 6. The tightness will increase as you move towards the front of the seat, a butter knife and pliers will help you feed through the tightest spots.

Weave the back panel in the same way you wove the seat. I recommend that you remove the warp splice staples on the back of the chair when you’re done because the tightness of the weave will hold the splices tight. You can go ahead and remove the staples on the bottom of the seat as well, but I never bother to do this.

posted on February 1, 2008 by Kerry Pierce
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