Rattan is a natural material made from trees in the palm family, and it’s used to weave cane mesh for furniture. The best thing about rattan? Using it for furniture upgrades can give you a sexy 70s vibe or a boho vintage look without spending much money.
How to choose the right rattan material for your furniture
There are four major types of rattan cane mesh available: close weave, open box weave, radio weave, and open weave. Each style has a different texture and look, so you can choose the type that fits your project best. You can buy pre-woven rattan by the roll from furniture suppliers, and it comes in different widths to accommodate different applications.
Typical uses for cane webbing
Cane mesh can be used by stretching it across openings in cabinet doors or drawers faces, or by attaching it to the surface of your furniture. Rattan is stiffer than most upholstery, and when stretched tight, it can be used as a weight-bearing chair seat or small table top. It isn’t structural on its own in larger applications — more than two feet across — because it’s too flexible, so don’t use it on a larger scale without adding additional support.
Choose the right tools (and how to prep your rattan)
For best results, soak your mesh in warm water for 30 minutes before stretching unless you plan to glue it to a flat surface. This will help your cane mesh stretch taught as it dries. Besides the rattan, you’ll also need a pencil, some wood glue, scissors, a staple gun, and a rubber mallet.
How to upgrade a table top with rattan
For a quick update, a table with a lip on the edge can get a makeover using glue, dry cane mesh, and scissors. The lip will finish the cut edge of the rattan without any added pieces. If your table doesn’t have a lip, you can get strands of cane material to glue around the edge of the webbing to finish the open strands.
First, lay your mesh over the top table and trace the inner edge of the lip with your pencil. Then, cut along your line. Glue around the inner edge of the lip of your table with wood glue and press your rattan down. Weight it along the edges with some water bottles, cans, or other household items with some heft to them.
Make sure to wipe away excess glue before placing your weights, and don’t use books or other items that could be permanently damaged by getting a little glue on them. Once your glue is dry, you can remove the weights and use your table.
How to refresh your boring slated doors into cane mesh ones
To refresh some old closet doors with slats, you can replace the slats with cane mesh. Start by removing the old slats by drilling a few holes in the centre of each slat and breaking them in the middle, then pulling the slats out from each side of the channel. You can achieve similar results by cutting down the middle of the slats with a saw, but I personally enjoy breaking things with a hammer every once in a while.
Once your slats are removed, you should have some doors with open frames that you can replace with rattan. On the back side of the door, measure your presoaked mesh to about an inch bigger than the opening in your door and cut it out. Glue along the edge of the back side of your opening. Then staple your rattan about every two inches from the middle of the top of your frame going out, holding the mesh taught as you go. Repeat this step along the bottom edge, and then along the sides. Fill each open panel of your door, and you’ll have a cane mesh closet door instead of a slatted one.
Play around with more rattan possibilities
Once you’ve mastered the art of stretching webbing, the possibilities are endless. Keep in mind that the most challenging part is stretching your webbing tight enough so that it maintains its shape over time, and positioning the weave so that it’s straight up and down when you’re finished. The webbing will stretch as it dries if you soak it first, so that process will help. If you’re working with dry cane, it will be less pliable, so weights or clamps will be necessary to keep its shape while your glue dries.
Using these basic steps, you can give your ordinary or old furniture new life while saving yourself the cost and hassle of a trip to the furniture store.