Yes! I’m talking about the cane material you might recognize from your mom’s vintage furniture! The use of cane webbing in furniture and décor was super popular in the 70’s, and now it’s back! This time, it’s being used in design styles ranging from modern to boho and everything in between. Recently, I decided to use caning material in my bathroom vanity makeover and it turned out AMAZING! Read on to learn how to upgrade your vanity with cane webbing.
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If I can be completely honest, I didn’t realize cane material could be used in a modern and pretty way until earlier this year. I had only ever seen it used in old furniture!
However, cane webbing is showing up everywhere. I’m not just talking about chairs like back in the day. Modern caning material is now being used in beautiful console tables, gorgeous cabinets, and unique dressers. Check out this beautiful, modern end table featuring cane webbing available on Amazon:
When planning the renovation of our powder room, I knew the vanity was going to need some love. I wanted our powder room to feel like a modern boho retreat with a clean, fresh, and organic vibe.
Here’s what our vanity looked like before:
It wasn’t horrible but there were a bunch of paint dings and drips from the previous owner that made it look cheap and messy. Plus, I wanted something a little more unique and eclectic.
After browsing a few bathroom design styles (and by a few, I mean a million), I fell in love with how modern designers were using cane webbing in place of the center panel in cabinet doors. So, I began to research the best methods for adding this material to my vanity doors.
In my research I learned a few interesting things about cane webbing:
- The best way to achieve a nice, tight fit is to soak the material in water and apply it while damp. As the caning dries, it will shrink and tighten so there aren’t any ripples.
- Caning must be secured very well so it doesn’t pop out of place while drying.
- You can paint it!
- Cane webbing is actually woven rattan “bark”. Rattan is a vine that grows in tropical jungles. When harvested, the outside skin or bark is used to make caning material and the inside portion is used for things like wicker furniture.
There are a few different weave patterns for cane webbing. Here’s the style I chose:
Caning material can be cut to any size and shape. There’s usually one light side and one slightly darker side so you have an option of which color you prefer.
Here are some common questions about using cane webbing:
Will adding caning to my cabinet doors be permanent?
It should be! There are two reasons cane webbing wouldn’t be permanent on cabinet doors:
A. It’s smashed with a ton of force.
B. The caning wasn’t secured properly when installing.
The caning on cabinet doors doesn’t receive anywhere close to the wear and tear that cane webbing on chairs does so re-caning in the future shouldn’t be necessary.
How do you attach caning?
The materials used to attach cane webbing will depend on what you’re attaching it to and the specific circumstances.
For example: one popular way to attach caning is by using a staple gun. However, I couldn’t use a staple gun with my cabinet doors because the caning was going into a groove on the sides and the staples wouldn’t be long enough.
The most popular materials for attaching caning are:
- Wood Glue (must be used along with another securing material)
Where can you buy caning material?
Is wood glue strong enough to hold caning material in place?
No. Wood glue is not strong enough *by itself* to hold caning material in place. As mentioned earlier, the wet caning material shrinks and tightens as it dries. It’s really strong! It will literally pop right out of place. Wood glue should be used in addition to another securing method.
What is spline?
Spline is a thin strip of rattan that’s used to wedge caning material tightly into grooves. It’s most commonly used in chair caning but I used it in my vanity door caning project as well. Here’s what it looks like:
When you’re ready to add some caning material to your cabinet doors, here’s what you’ll need:
- Enough caning material for each door PLUS 1 ½ – 2 inches on each side to account for trimming, attaching, and shrinkage. I purchased mine on Etsy. It was a great price but it took about 3 weeks to receive so, if you want something quicker, check out Amazon.
- Caning Spline – you’ll want to have enough for the length of all of the grooves in your cabinet doors. Measure the width of the grooves in your cabinet doors to determine the thickness of spline you need. My cabinet doors had grooves that were just slightly larger than ¼ inch thick so, I purchased ¼ inch caning spline. It’s super cheap on Amazon.
- Wood Glue – I used this Titebond Ultimate Wood Glue available on Amazon
- Brad nailer (If you’re looking for a budget-friendly brad nailer, I would suggest this one.)
- Brad nails (The length of the brad nails should be slightly shorter than the thickness of the cabinet door where the groove is.)
- Drill with 3/4 – 1 inch drill bit (preferred method) – I HIGHLY recommend this one by Black+Decker! It’s cordless, super easy to use, and reasonably priced.
- Jigsaw (preferred method)
When you’re ready to begin, here’s what you’ll do:
- Remove the doors from the vanity and remove the hardware from the doors.
- Remove the center wood panel from your cabinet doors. Here’s the safe and preferred way:
- Begin by drilling a hole in one corner of the center panel in the door.
- Then, insert your jigsaw blade and cut out a large rectangular portion of the center panel.
- Next, make 4 diagonal cuts from the corners of your rectangle to the inner corner edge of the door frame.
- You should then be able to use a pair of pliers to pull the remaining pieces of wood paneling out from the frame groove.
Truth be told, just get that panel out any way you can! I personally ended up using a hammer to bust it out so no judgement here!
The most important thing to remember is that you want to try to preserve your door frame as best as you can! Don’t worry though, if you end up cracking it, you can always fix it with wood glue. If the inside frame edges don’t look perfect after removing the inside panel, you can always sand them.
- If you’re painting the vanity in addition to adding cane webbing, you’ll want to do that next.
- When you’re ready to add the caning material, start by unrolling it and soaking it and the spline in the bathtub for 20-40 minutes.
- When the cane webbing and spline are soaked through, remove them from the tub and place them on a towel to take to your workspace. You’ll know they’re ready when they’re very pliable and easy to bend.
- Lay the cane webbing across the back side of the cabinet door and cut it to size, allowing for an extra inch of material around the cabinet opening.
- Work one side of the caning material into the groove as far as it will go.
- Then, squeeze some wood glue into the groove on that side. The glue will coat the caning as it slides down. If your cabinet doors don’t have any grooves, just add a thin strip of glue along one side.
- Then, cut a piece of spline to fit the length of the groove. Beginning on one end, push the spline in so that it’s sandwiching the caning material in the groove. Tap it with a hammer to wedge it in further. Complete steps 7 and 8 on all sides. The cane webbing should be relatively smooth and tight but don’t worry too much if there’s a ripple. It will tighten as it dries. (If you don’t have a groove, skip to step 11)
- When both the cane webbing and spline are secured in place, use a brad nailer to insert a nail into the backside of the cabinet. The nail should go through the spline, caning, and a portion of the front side wood. You’ll want to make sure you have the correct size nails so that they don’t come through the front. I used 5/8 inch nails and used 3-5 nails per side.
- If you’re missing the groove from a side of your cabinet, you can add a small piece of wood over the caning and nail that into place.
- When finished, allow the caning material and wood glue to dry for 24 hours before replacing the hardware and installing it back on the cabinet.
As you can see, adding cane webbing to cabinet doors isn’t a one-size-fits-all project. There are many factors that go into the specific application of caning material including: how the cabinet door was made and if there was any damage done to the door while removing the center panel.
Luckily, there are different methods and strategies you can use to apply cane webbing. Most of the time, as long as you soak the material prior to use and you tightly secure the caning in place during installation, it’ll turn out beautifully!
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