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Rattan bench, hand woven

The difference between handwoven rattan and machine rattan

So, you have this heirloom chair that has been in the family for ages. It is like the holy grail. It reminds you of your mom, your grandmother and your great-grandmother. You close your eyes and you can still see her sitting in the chair; like a queen on a throne, maybe knitting, reading, drinking tea?

But the chair does not look like a throne anymore. The rattan on the seat and/or back is in tatters. What can you do to return it to its former glory?

The first thing you will have to ask yourself is, when you decide to repair the rattan, is what type of rattan is on the seat.

Well, there are two common types of rattan seats. The one is “machine rattan”, which is the easiest and the cheapest to repair. The second is handwoven rattan. And I think you can see where this is going – hand woven. It is expensive. It is labour-intensive. It is back-breaking work.

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So how do you distinguish between the two?

Machine rattan will have a groove about 1 cm from the inner edge of the seat frame, where the rattan is pressed into the groove and secured with spline. Simple job. I can do it for anything from R300 per frame, depending on the size.

Machine rattan

Another example of machine rattan, is an insert secured with a bamboo strip, as below

Another example of machine rattan


Then there is handwoven rattan. It is much stronger and will outlast machine rattan if cared for.  You can identify hand-woven rattan by the holes around the frame of the seat, and the rattan is woven in a pattern through the holes. On some frames (especially backs, that do not carry so much weight) the holes do not go through the frame, in order to keep the back nice and clean.

This is what handwoven rattan look like

An example of handwoven rattan.

A seat like the above can start around R1000. Other factors affecting my quote would be difficulty. On some frames the holes are very close together making for a difficult job, or the rest of the chair gets in the way, forcing you to either disassemble the chair, or under the back and arms, work in very confined spaces!

But, when you see the product, the cost is soon forgotten!

No, cost considered, why not changed the handwoven to webbing? Read this first, then ask yourself it the risk is worth the saving? 

“Sunrise” handwoven before and after shots


So, if you have rattan work that needs to be repairs, give me a call

Ben: 0764989916 (whatsapp too)
skype/twitter: benkeyser