How to Make Your Own Outdoor Wicker Furniture: Chairs

What You'll Need
Wicker thread material
Wicker chair frame
Tape measure
Hammer and small nails/tacks
Wicker stain
Clear sealer (outdoor use)
Drop cloth

Follow the steps below to make your own outdoor wicker furniture for a fun project that will result in a useful chair. Wicker is an inexpensive and attractive material that only takes a short while to learn to use, and adds an air of comfort and charm to your outdoor living space. You can buy rattan,  the easiest wicker material to work with, at craft stores or outdoor and garden center. This tutorial will show you how to make a wicker chair. 

Step 1 – Dampen the Rattan

Lay half the rattan strands in the bucket of water for up to 2 hours or until flexible. Add more strands as you work. If you are using an old cane chair to re-cane, use this time to remove any remaining bits of old cane and use pliers to remove nails. Re-glue and loose joints. 

Step 2 – Lay Out the Primary Threads

Lay strips of rattan from the back of the seat frame to the front, attaching with nails on the underside of the frame. Make sure that each thread is evenly spaced and parallel, with a small space between each piece. Do the same with the back of the chair. If you don’t want any frame showing between the rattan threads, wrap the threads an extra time before fastening them. 

Step 3 – Weave the Perpendicular Threads

Making sure you use threads that are evenly sized, nail them to the third side so they are perpendicular (crossways) to the others. Weave them alternating over and under through the first threads so you have as little gap as possible.  When finished, nail the loose ends to the inside of the frame. You can use long rattan threads by starting one, and when you get to the other side of the frame, bring it around the frame and start back to the other side. Nail down the end and start with another thread when you run out. Use a clamp if you need to keep everything in order as you work. Hide any ends under the frame.

Thread the back of the chair in the same way as the seat. Check the tension often.

If the rattan starts to become too stiff, dampen it occasionally with a wet sponge. 

Step 4 – Make Final Checks

Check that each thread is properly nailed down and strong enough to withstand pressure. Make sure the threads are not too tight as they can snap if they are too tense. The tension is about right when it gives a little when you press on them with the flat of your hand. Allow the rattan to dry completely before Staining. 

Step 5 – Stain and Finish

Lay down the drop-cloth. Stain the chair before waxing or sealing the canes. Using the paintbrush, apply the stain in two coats, leaving to dry between coats. Apply two coats of clear sealer, making sure you get into all nooks and crannies.