How to Cane a Canoe Seat
To start you will need a frame, you can use an existing frame or build your own. The frame should be at least 1.1/4" wide x 7/8" high. You can adjust this according to someone's weight. I make the side to side length 4" to 5" longer than the width of the placement of seat in the canoe. The cross members are made to have a finished length of 12" + depth of tongue for tongue & mortise joint. Inside dimensions will then be 12"x 12". Make sure the top-inside edge is slightly rounded over to help prevent stress on cane. If you are using an existing frame or this new one, the holes are then drilled 1" on center and 1/2" from the inside edge. The cane I like to use is 1/4" in width. Pre-soak cane before use. I usually will pre-soak 3-4 lengths at a time. Before you start, have a bucket of water with a rag near by, a couple of golf tees and a finger nail clipper for cutting.
Start by running the cane through the number two hole in any row and down the matching hole across the seat. Do not start in the corner hole (number 1 hole). Keep the smooth side of the cane up at all times through out making of the seat. Keep the ruff side against the wood. Tie off the short end by wrapping cane though the next hole or use the corner hole. Tying off is done by wrapping the cane upon itself at least 2 times, 3 is even better. See side picture. If your canoe seat is not square start going across the long way first, when it comes time to do the actual weaving in step 4 you will appreciate this. Tip: Wrap all ends so the end is pointing in when done as in this close up picture. Come back and clip end off after you have a few runs in. This is for comfort purposes only; this is the bottom but you may run a hand of foot under the seat and it will scratch less.
Continue running cane through the holes, by pulling cane snug and running it back up the adjacent hole. Remember the wet cane will dry and shrink some, if you pull the cane real tight you may crack the frame or ruin the cane. You can keep the cane snug by placing a golf tee in the hole. After you get the hang of it you can run the cane across several times and then work the cane snug, just watch to keep the smooth side of the cane on top at all times. As you go along through out all of the steps keep wetting the cane with a rag to keep it supple.
When you come to the other end of the row of holes, again do not use the corner hole. You will instead, from the underside, cross over to the adjacent frame piece and come up in the number 2 hole. Run cane across and continue as before. Eventually you will come to the end of the length of cane you started with, tie off end as you did to begin. Note: there is no weaving done of cane at this time, this run of cane will run on top of the first runs.
This step is the same as step one, you will be running the cane on top of the runs in step 2 but parallel to the runs in step 1. As you have been running the lengths of cane you probably have noted that the use of the longest lengths of cane make these first three steps go quicker and you are right.
Finally, yes finally, you get to do some actual weaving. These runs of cane will run parallel to the runs in step 2. If you remember in step 1 I suggested that if your seat was not square to start with running the cane across the long lengths first, you will now see that in this step you have less weaving to do. To start, stick the end of the cane between the cane from steps 1 & 3 and along side the cane from step 2, this is hard to explain but it does work better if you start the cane on the side of cane from step 2 that is away form the side rail of wood, your weaving will be easier. Pull 3 inches of cane through. Next bring cane up through the hole or square that is created by the runs of cane from steps 1, 2, & 3. Go back down the next row of cane between runs from step 1 & 3, continue to the end. Look back across the seat and you can now see the weaving taking place.
If you make a mistake you will notice it now. To correct just pull cane back to just before mistake and correct it. After you look at this first row and there is no mistakes pull all the cane through and down hole. Bring cane up in the adjacent hole and go back and pull cane snug and place golf tee to keep in place. Look back now on the previous row and start your weaving to match it, you will be weaving in reverse of what you just did, where you went up you will now go down. Also remember to start the end between runs 1 & 3 along side run 2 away from the previous run. If you make a mistake here it will show up immediately, your weaving will not look consistent with the previous run. Again, after you have reached the other side, look back before pulling all the cane through for any mistakes. As you work your way across the seat, pulling the cane through will become more difficult as the weaving is now making things tight. At some point you will notice that when you are half way across it will be easier to pull all the cane through, pull snug and then continue weaving. At some point pulling the cane all the way through after each weave puts unneeded strain on the cane, adjust as you see fit.
Here is where you start with diagonal weaving. You start by continuing with cane from step 4 if you can and on the underside running the cane to the adjacent wood frame hole 2. When you come up you run diagonal back to the hole the cane came from on top. This first run has no weaving. Go down hole and up the next hole in this same wood frame side. When you go back now you will have to start weaving by going up and down through the squares steps 1 - 4 have created. I strongly suggest clicking on the picture to the left and wait for the page to load. Here a picture really does speak loader than words. In the picture you will also notice that you will finally get to use the corner holes as you progress across the frame. When you reach the other end, just as before, switch directions and weave away.
To add a finishing touch, add a border around the edge to hide the holes a little bit. I find this is more easily done by stretching a piece of cane from corner to corner and then go back up and down the same hole over this cane to hold in place. Do each side.
This picture shows a simple staple puller that can be made from a scrap piece of wood and a can opener. We flatten out the tip and then file it down to fit under the staples easier. By using this instead of a screw driver we save on denting the wood and on our wrists.
Home Made Miter Box
Here is a home made miter box that I use to make the cuts before I join strips. It is getting harder to find long enough strips that are affordable. One way to lesson the cost of materials is to go to a lesser qualtiy board (more knots) and shorter in length. The only tip here is to mix up the strips and to watch the splices so you don't make a pattern. This will result in a wood floor look.