Replacing a Woven Rattan Seat Back on a Peter Hvidt Teak Armchair: PAGE 1


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This tutorial shows how to weave a new seat backrest on a Peter Hvidt armchair using 4mm binding cane (rattan).  Binding cane comes in many different sizes. The technique I am using replicates the manner in which one of my two Hvidt armchairs was originally woven.  However, there are three different weaving techniques I have seen used on this same model of Hvidt chair, so there are a number of ways that a seat can be woven, even when the end result looks the same (the image of the pair of chairs seen below were both woven with different techniques).  The method I chose to use is probably the easiest for someone who has not woven a chair seat with binding cane before.

Additionally, there are quite a few other Danish mid-century Modernist chairs that are woven with rattan, including many by Hans Wegner, Hans Olsen, Ib Kofod Larsen, etc., which are woven in different styles than the one used on my Hvidt chairs.  If you have one of these other chairs the method of weaving I am illustrating in this tutorial may not apply directly to how yours was done, although it is likely that some of the same principles are going to apply.  In that case, it will be important and helpful if you can carefully dissect the old original weaving on your chair as you remove it, with an eye towards figuring out how it was done.  It can also be very helpful to use a digital camera to document how the weaving was done as you are removing it from the chair.

This image shows my two Peter Hvidt chairs with their worn out rattan, which has numerous breaks, and is now brittle from a half century of age.  At this point all that can be done is to completely remove the old weaving and replace it.

A close-up image of the worn out rattan.

If you can disassemble the chair, it will make it much easier to work with.  Many Danish import lounge chairs are knock-down construction, and can be disassembled using a rubber mallet. The parts key together using metal plates like the one shown.

In this image, I have disassembled the chair and removed the old weaving from the seat back frame. To begin weaving, you will need to first soak your binding cane in hot water for around 20-30 minutes, fully submerged. After it has soaked for half an hour you should remove the rattan from the water, and place it in a large lidded plastic storage bin or a large garbage bag. If you leave the rattan in the water for too long, it has a tendency to turn gray, and will remain so after it has dried. To avoid this, remove the rattan from the water, but help it to remain damp and pliable by keeping in an a lidded container or a garbage bag that is twisted closed to keep the cane from drying out. If it does begin to get too dry, you can re-soak it again.

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Copyright 2013 Thomas Penrose