Rehab Your RH Madeleine Chair

Oct 26

caned chair

via Restoration Hardware

Have you ever been super intimidated to tackle a DIY pursuit?  Oh goodness, that was me a couple of years ago.  In fact, my husband had ordered all the items off Amazon a year prior to me actually tackling this job – thats right, a whole freakin’ year!  That is how terrified I was to take this on. I almost ordered a whole new chair just to avoid the whole darn situation, which would have cost me approximately $225.  My husband talked me off the ledge and pumped me up to take this challenge on and I am so glad I listened, as we saved $200 bucks!  Yep, that’s right – all the materials to fix our Restoration Hardware Madeleine Dining Chair only cost $25 including shipping and it was super easy.

At the time I had no clue why I was so nervous to tackle this DIY.  In retrospect I think maybe because this was one of the first large and expensive purchases that my husband and I made together after purchasing our first house.  Our Restoration Hardware dining table was a gracious wedding gift from my in-laws and we were just so excited to own a true-to-us style, no hand-me-down piece of furniture.  It was an expression of our taste together as a couple. We enjoy entertaining and hosting gatherings, which relies, from time to time, on a great dining table. Ugh the pressure, ha!

caned chair
caned chair
caned chair
cane chairs

via britdotdesign, McGee & COBlissful Blog, Eva Black Design

With the popularity of the boho casual vibe in decor, cane furniture is having a big moment.  It is no longer passé or “oh my, so seventies!” It’s hip and cool.  So you know all those antique or thrift store finds that you passed up because the caning had come loose somewhere on the piece?  Well, I’m here to tell you to SNAG that piece and follow this DIY tutorial, you’re going to thank me (and have a lovely piece of furniture) when it’s all done.  I guarantee it!


  • cane webbing
  • reed spline

Instructions on how to re-cane a piece of furniture:

Demo Old Cane

  1. Start soaking your cane webbing in warm water, I recommend at least a 1/2 an hour.  It should be damp while you are working with it
  2. Remove the old cane from the piece
  3. Score the outer and inner edge of the old reed spline in the groove (the spline is usually glued in)
  4. Remove old spline – if stubborn in some areas use a small chisel and  mallet to remove
  5. Clean out the groove

Let’s Get Caning

  1. Grab your soaked caning (it is easier to work with when wet, and as it dries becomes tight and strong)
  2. Run beads of wood glue along the perimeter of the groove – don’t over do it, a little goes a long way
  3. Lay and centre the pre-woven cane over the opening
  4. Stretch the cane tight over the opening
  5. Line the weave of the cane with the front edge of the opening – try to get the pattern to line up squarely to the front edge

Time To Cane

  1. Take your small chisel and rubber mallet and tape, find the middle of the front area and tape the cane down
  2. Find the middle of the back area and tape the cane down
  3. Tap cane down on the middle of one of the sides
  4. Tap cane down on the middle on the opposite side (all 4 taps should resemble a diamond pattern)
  5. Starting back at the front middle position tap down 2 inches from initial point and continue around until all the cane has been taped into the groove
  6. Run beads of wood glue along the inside of the groove and on top of the cane
  7. Set your reed spline at the middle back position and tap down into the groove all around the area
  8. Bend the spline around the corners if the corners of the groove are even slightly curved. If the corners are straight, measure enough spline to fit down each side and across the front and back . Cut each corner of the spline at a 45-degree angle so the pieces will match up when installed in the groove.
  9. Cut excess reed off
  10. Carefully remove any long pieces of cane and glue
  11. Leave to dry for at least 24 hrs

Note: If you have a stain you are trying to match, apply 72 hrs post-caning.

Other fun projects you might want to try “DIY Wooden Bead Garland” and this “Luxe Leather Wrapped Vase”.

Have you re-caned a piece of furniture before?  Let me know in the comments below and include any other helpful tips.




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