A bentwood rocker is a treasure that may easily become a family heirloom if it stays in shape. But long use will wear away the chair’s good looks, and generations of generous bottoms will take their toll on the cane seat. Refinish an bullied or inherited bentwood rocker yourself to spend less and add your own distinctive personality to its antique charm.
Refinish the Frame
Clean out the chair and eliminate all ripped caning from the seat, taking care to pull out the spline and cane from the groove in the seat frame without damaging the frame’s wood.
Strip the old masonry, paint or stain from the wood chair frame. Apply commercial stripper, and follow manufacturer’s instructions for allowing it to penetrate the aged finish to loosen it. Scrape the old finish off. Use a plastic putty knife to prevent scratching or gouging the wood. Use the knife edge to get into tight seams. Reapply stripper to any locations that still show old end.
Lightly hand-sand the wood using fine-grade sandpaper. Decide on any remaining pieces of glue and stick from the groove in the seat. Wipe down the rocker to eliminate dust and bits of fiber. Mask the cane back with painter’s tape, if you aren’t replacing it, so no new stain or finish will mar it.
Stain the rocker all over. Or, to get a natural look, protect the stripped and sanded wood with a coat of transparent matte or shiny polyurethane. If the first coat of stain creates the color you want, let the stain dry, and then apply the clear protective finish. Carefully apply another coat of stain to deepen a too-pale rocker to the color you prefer prior to finishing with the final protective clear coat.
Fix the Seat
Cane the rocker seat utilizing a piece of machine-woven cane from a craft source or woodworker’s shop. Buy a amount of reed spline to secure the woven cane in precisely the exact same moment. Get larger pieces of woven cane and also of reed spline than you need to your region of the seat and the perimeter to be tamped down.
Soak the cane in warm water for about 30 minutes to soften the stiff fibers. Put the pliable cane over the chair seat. Use a caning wedge and a hammer to slowly tap on the cane to the groove that runs along the outside of the seat. Once the rod is wedged securely to the groove and is taut round the seat opening, then trim the excess using a box cutter.
Squeeze a line of wood glue across the groove holding the cane, and tap on the reed spline into the groove to affix the rod and neatly finish off the seat edge. Wipe any excess glue off the chair frame and allow the glue dry. Wait a day or so prior to placing your refinished rocker back to service, to be sure the seat is strongly bonded to the chair frame.