Rock On! (Repairing and Weaving a Rocking Chair)

rockingchairclose

As mentioned in Add a Little Sparkle I have been working on a rocking chair for quite some time now. I finally finished it today! Hurray! Unfortunately I was so focused on just getting it done that I neglected to take step by step photos.

The rocking chair belongs to my mam and used to belong to her grandma, so is something of a family heirloom. Sometime in its life its back had been snapped and repaired badly and snapped again. The caning on the back had obviously snapped along with it and the whole chair was looking a bit worse for wear.

rockingchair

The first thing I did was to remove all the old caning. Then I made my first mistake. I spotted some dings out of the wood and figured I would sand them out before doing anything else. It turns out the beautiful dark wood of the chair was actually oak with a stain and several layers of shellac. This meant where I sanded I exposed wood of a totally different colour. After some panic I rang my mam and established she doesn’t like dark wood anyway! Phew! Although this meant I had to carefully sand every little inch of the entire chair. This is what took me so long. I started with 100 grade and worked my way up to 400 grade so it is nice and silky feeling.

The next thing I did was fix the top back on. I removed all of  the previous glue and shellac and sanded it with a course grade abrasive paper in order to expose unadulterated wood. Then I stuck it with PVA glue, using the existing dowels, and clamped it overnight.

There were quite a lot of gaps around the join from the previous repair. If I were to sand the joins flat it would have messed up the spacing of the holes for the caning. Instead I ordered a sample piece of oak flooring from eBay for £1 delivered. I chiseled chips off this and used a knife to shave them down to the right size to fit tightly into the gaps. I used PVA to glue them in and clamped them overnight again. When they were dry I sanded them level to the chair and repeated this until all of the gaps were filled.

rockingchairwoodjoin

My next step was to re-cane the seat and back. I followed the 7 step method I found on YouTube, except I used paper twine instead of cane and wooden kebab skewers instead of caning pegs. Paper twine is often used for rush style seats so I figured it would be strong enough for this method. I ran into a couple of problems using paper twine instead of cane. The first was that it kept coming untwisted so I had to re-twist it as I was working with it. The second problem was  that the weaving process weakened the integrity of the twine, making it more inclined to snap. The third problem is that although the twine is the same width as the cane, the cane is flat and the twine isn’t. This meant that I couldn’t get as many pieces through the holes and I had to miss out both of the diagonal steps.

To finish off I treated the wood with a couple of layers of danish oil, which brings out the shine and grain of the wood. It has made it look almost translucent and protects and nourishes the wood.

Despite the problems I encountered I am happy with the result, it looks nice and is good and tight and sturdy. I think it will hold up for a good long time. I think my mam will be pleased.

rockingchairdone

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