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How to choose chair cane gauges and sizes

There are a lot of different chair cane gauges and sizes used in chair cane weaving so, how do you determine what size chair cane to use on your next project? The usual way is to measure the diameter of the holes, then the distance from center of one hole to the center of an adjacent hole and then compare those measurements to a table that the supply companies have in their catalogs and online.

But there’s another way that I’ll share with you for a quick and easy method the English chair caners have been using for years and years.

hole cane seat horseshoe shape

Hole cane chair-horseshoe shape

I first ran across this simple way to choose what size chair cane to use when reading my 1990 reprint of the 1988 Chair Seating, Techniques in Cane, Willow, Rush and Cords by English authors and seat weavers, Kay Johnson, Olivia Elton Barratt, and Mary Butcher.

Best Chair Caning and Seat Weaving Instruction Book

Chair Seating by Johnson, Barratt and Butcher is by far, in my opinion, the best chair caning and chair seat weaving book ever made.

It’s very, very detailed in each and every type of chair seat weaving you can imagine and includes easy to understand (although uses many English terms and metric numbering system) text and delightfully clear illustrations.

Quick and Easy Method for Correct Cane Size

As most of you caners know, the size of cane to use in your chair caning projects depends on the diameter of the drilled holes and the distance between center hole to center hole, correct?

Normally after you take those measurements, you would either go to the website of your favorite cane and basket supplier and look it up on their tables, or you would consult their conversion tables in their catalogs.

Well, now you can bypass all that and know what size chair cane to use by just simply counting the number of holes within a six inch interval on the side rails!

determine cane size english method

Measure number of drilled holes within six inches

Since not all holes are drilled a consistent and accurate distance apart, it’s wise to take the measurement in several different places along the rails and then average those totals.

determine cane size English method

Measure number of drilled holes within six inches, in several places

Quick and easy cane sizing method to memorize

Now that you know how many drilled holes there are in the six inch span you can use the simple, easy method below to determine the correct gauge cane to use for your project!

If a partial hole is within the measurement, then count that too. Then for every six inches that has the number of holes below, buy the size cane listed on the right:

12 holes = Fine Fine Cane, 2.25mm
11 holes = Fine Cane, 2.50mm
10 holes = Narrow Medium, 2.75mm Cane
9 holes = Medium Cane, 3.0mm
8 holes = Common Cane, 3.50mm

What size chair cane to use–now you know!

Memorize this list above and you’ll always know what size chair cane to use for your chair caning projects and never be dependent on those cane size conversion measurement tables again!

You’ll be able to order the correct size cane anytime, right off the top of your head from now on!

Thanks so much Kay Johnson, Olivia Elton Barratt and Mary Butcher for writing such a wonderfully clear, easily memorizable size guide for us.

I had the pleasure of meeting these fantastic and ever-so-talented ladies in 2006 when I was there for two weeks on a McKnight Fellowship Grant. Wish I had thought to bring my own copy along, so I could get their autographs, darn.

Various sizes of chair cane coils

Strand chair cane coils & binder cane

We’ve also discussed using this measuring and counting method of choosing what size chair cane to use on the Seatweaving & Chair Caning Forum–The Caner’s Community Hub™.

Come visit and join in on all the chair caning and chair seat weaving discussions, hope to see you soon!

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