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Replacing hand-woven rattan with cane webbing?

Is it worth the cost saving to replace hand-woven rattan with machine-made cane webbing?

I often get requests from customers to convert a chair or seat from hand-woven rattan to the cheaper cane webbing.

No, make no mistake, I understand the driving force behind the reasoning. A standard sized seat, hand-woven, would cost around R1500 to R2000. The more intricate the pattern, the higher the price. And if it is French caning, also know as blind caning (handwoven, but the strands are cut to length and glued down; they do not go through the frame), the price can be as much as 50% more on a standard pattern.

Now compare that, to around R400 (plus/minus) for a piece of machine webbing fitted to the seat? Now the reasoning makes sense.

 

Sample of seat with cane webbing

Problem – almost all of the handwovens I see are antiques. Now you need to router a new groove around the frame (on the same line where the holes are). Remember, you have about and inch-thick frame, of sometimes already bone dry wood (people tend to forget to oil their wooden furniture – we’ll revisit this one), with between 50 and 80 holes drilled right through the frame. That has already weakened the frame. Now, in order to install a piece of rattan webbing on that frame, we need to router out a groove all around the frame, from hole to hole. That groove needs to be 5mm wide and about 6mm deep. Now ask yourself – what are you doing to the structure of that frame? You are weakening it. Setting it up to break.

You are also changing the character of your antique chair. Now you are not only cutting away wood on the chair; you are also cutting away on the value of your antique piece.

Don’t do that please? And don’t ask me to do that? Rather save up and have it restored properly. Even negotiate payment terms with me if you have to! I know it is expensive. But don’t ask me to destroy antique furniture by replacing hand-woven rattan with cane webbing. That is sacrilege! I will rather forfeit the job than kill an antique!

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