Coloring Cane Work

A furniture restorer gets advice on toning new cane-work to match the existing piece. October 2, 2005

I have a very frustrating deficiency that it's time to get over. A lot of our business comes from re-caning chairs and couches. When they're finished, the cane obviously looks brand new and the customer usually wants it to be toned to match the rest of the chair. I do all of the coloring and finishing and I absolutely hate it and never get it to look right. I have tried aerosol background toners, spraying NGR stains, etc. and still get the same results. It's blotchy at best and usually the wrong color. Any advice on techniques that you use to match new cane work to existing cane or the look of a piece would greatly help. I would love to finally graduate from this problem.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
Won't the cane age naturally after a while? I've seen tinted paste wax that may work.

If you're trying to match a cane which has just aged over time, an amber ngr followed by light amber shading works fine. Actually, Mohawk's amber aerosol works well and is simple. For actually colored canes, use ngr for base color, seal, glaze and shade to match. Remember to remove loose hairs before finishing.

Here are some ways of doing it:
Blond and orange shellac.
The aerosol base color toners, then a colored glaze (BU-VDB-RU), then follow up with clear coats.
The Clear Blond Shellac makes a good sealer or final clear coat.

After trying more or less all of the above, I have found that gel stains, often with a little mineral spirit added to keep it open, and a bit of dry brushing gives me an even color and a mellow look. I can thin the color as much as I want to match other sections of a given piece. I can also combine colors to get the hue I am looking for.