repairing wicker?

Picked up a kevlar Malecite today. A ‘98 model that looks brand-new, except for a very small spot of damage in one of the wicker seats. Rather than replacing the wicker right away, I’d like to see if I can just mend it to arrest any further failure of the material - at least for a while. Anybody have any tricks that have worked for this?

BTW - kinda neat…having two Malecites hangin’ in my garage. :wink:

I assume you mean cane?
There are two kinds of cane seats - hand woven and sheet. Sheet is pretty easy to replace and hand woven is a big job. Which do you have - I am guessing it is sheet.

just did that

The cane seat on my MR Independence had same issue - the cane strips had broken in a few spots near the edge. I just used black nylon lacing and rewove it through the “healthy” section of cane, 2 or 3 layers, then laced the bad to the good, and around the rear cross piece. took maybe 20 minutes, and stronger than new.

“sheet” if that is the proper term, is what I have I think - it is a pop out section that looks like it would be easy to replace the entire cane as a unit.

sorry the link is for a UK company, I couldn’t find a better link - got too many hits for nylon lace fabric when I googled - the lacing is thin flat, braided nylon,probably 50 or 100# tensile strength. likely to be found at electircal supply stores - I know its used to lace fiber optic cables together sometimes.


– Last Updated: Sep-05-14 12:05 PM EST –

I inherited a set of dining chairs with hand-caned seats. My clever mom had re-caned 4 of them before she passed but one of the remaining ones had a large hole in the mesh. I have the cane and tools she used to fix them but didn't feel up to figuring it out so what I did was cut two squares of tan ripstop nylon repair tape (the peel and stick sort) and sandwiched the torn area between them. Then I took a needle and thread and stitched around the edge of the patch to anchor it to the surrounding weave. Looks a little funky but it worked and the tear has not widened in the 4 years I have used it.

If you would be concerned about durability, ripstop tape is great stuff for patching a lot of things you would not dream of using it for. Years ago we were on a canoe trip with friends who had a vintage canvas skinned wood canoe that had been thinly glassed over. They scraped a gash along the bow keel when they hit a ledge that resulted in a pretty substantial leak. We hauled the boat out and all we had with us for a patch was chewing gum and the ripstop tape. We masticated some big wads of the gum, packed it in the hole and sealed it up with a 3" by 6" strip of neon orange tape, figuring it might last the trip at least. Worked great and they paddled that thing for 3 more years with that orange patch intact.

Another thing you could do is wrap a piece of fabric (light cotton or Cordura nylon canvas) around the entire seat and sew or velcro it.

By the way, the ubiquitous Joann Fabric stores sell caning repair kits when you want to restore it. It isn't that complicated:

Ah, yes…cane.
And it’s not the stamped sheet stuff. These are the contoured “premium” seats that MR put in the Malecite in the late 90’s.

It’s a really small spot of damage, about the size of a pea. I was thinking maybe something along the lines of Mattt’s suggestion - perhaps stabilized with a dab of epoxy?

I can do a complete replacement. I’m just trying to put that off.

Are you sure it’s not sheet material?
I’ve seen lots of contoured canoe seats with cane filler, and in all cases the cane has been standard sheet stock, held in place by a spline and groove.

I can’t imagine any boat company other than a little boutique shop that makes one boat at a time doing hand-woven cane seats.

not stamped

I believe it is machine woven.

That’s the usual stuff

– Last Updated: Sep-05-14 4:53 PM EST –

That's the stuff RPG and others were referring to as being available in "sheets", which is the easy filling method compared to hand-woven cane. I don't know where you found the term "stamped" in this thread when saying that's not the kind of material you have. What's shown in your photo is the same as what the other posters here were talking about. If the damage is as minor as you say, I bet that following Willowleaf's advice would be a good first step. The stuff can get more brittle with age, but I don't know why some cane seats last practically forever and others fail catastrophically after a few years.

The guy here with the screen name "pilotwings" seems to know some tricks for making any cane reinstallation a lot less failure-prone than, from what I've heard, is often the case when the job is done by most people.

blame it on google
Some of what I found on searching was a sheet stamped out of some cane-looking material. So when I read “sheet”, that’s what popped into mind.

There’s no end to tutorials on the 'net about replacing the whole sheet. And I think I even have a book on it here still. But I haven’t found any reference about mending a minor flaw. Maybe it just isn’t do-able.

cane care
I remember my mom saying that dryness is the enemy of cane. She actually used to spritz the chair seats with water occasionally during the winter when we lived in a house with forced air heating. That could explain why it is do durable in well used canoes. I’ve read that you can use orange or lemon oil on it too, to keep it from drying out.

Looking at one of the chairs I have, it looks like it would be pretty difficult to just weave in a few strands due to the way it is run under the edge spline and through the wood penetrations. Inspecting this chair closely, I’m really impressed with what Mom did – she wove each strand individually and passed them through the chair frame. Must have taken many hours. i calculate there are 150 separate passes of the strands through the weave!

If instructions are needed
The last three pages of this booklet shows how to replace cane seat using pre-woven material. I need to replace the cane seat in one of my canoes this fall.

Several other universities have information available.

There are instructions and some care tips on this site too: