How I Upholstered a Wing Back Cane Chair

Hey there, Mea here! As mentioned in my previous post, “10 Upholstery Tips for Beginners,” we talked about various tips and tricks that you can apply when upholstering furniture. In this post, we are going to use some of those tips as I show you how to reupholster a vintage Cane Wing back chair.

The Chairstory

I remember coming across this particular chair one day when I was walking around the Goodwill. I noticed it sitting in a corner for five dollars. Even though I didn’t initially come for a chair, this one stuck out to me. I loved the look of the wood and cane frame, it was sturdy, and the foam was still intact. It was a good find, and my goal was to take it home and give it a more updated design.

Wingback Cane Chair Before

Tools and Materials Needed

Ok, before we get to the tools I have to be honest with you, this was my very first upholstery flip, and I had no specialty tools at the time. However, I did have a lot of general tools, so I gathered what I thought was relevant so I could to get started. These are some of the things I used:

  • Pliers
  • General Hand Stapler
  • Staples
  • Scissors
  • Leftover Interior Paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Polyurethane
  • Drill
  • Work Gloves
  • Wood Soap
  • Fabric
My Fabric Choice for the Chair

The Process

Clean the Seat Prior – An old chair can carry quite a bit of dirt and grime, so it is best to clean the piece before you get started with removing the fabric. I cleaned the chair to make sure that there were no cobwebs, old food, etc. I used wood soap and warm water to clean off the trim and a vacuum to clean off the seat. Now that was done, I moved on to remove the fabric.

A Good Soap for Cleaning Wood Frames

Strip the Fabric and DismantleSince the design of the chair was pretty simple, removing the fabric was quite easy. I started by removing the metal tack strips on the back; then, I moved on to eliminating fabric pieces that were being held by staples. After removing all the fabric and the buttons, I discovered that it was a few screws that hold the back and seat of the chair together. I used my drill to remove the screws and placed them in a cup so that I wouldn’t lose them. After the seat and back were loose, I made sure that I carefully removed the fabric off of each piece and put them to the side to use as templates for the new material. Next, I painted the frame.

Strip the Fabric and Dismantle

Applying Primer & Top CoatTo make sure that the paint stuck to the wood, I lightly sanded the frame with a 220 grit sanding block to remove any previous finish. After I was complete, I wiped the frame down and allowed it to dry for 15 minutes. Once dry, I used a primer to cover any imperfections. When working with darker colors in acrylic or latex paint, make sure that you use a grey primer. It will help hide the tone of the color underneath it. Next, the topcoat.

The color I chose for the frame was called Onyx Black (Menards). To get a beautiful smooth appearance, I coated it with three thin layers. I allowed each layer to dry for a couple of hours, and once I finished the top, I let it dry for an additional 24 hours so that I could add the finish with no problem. While the finish was drying, I started to work on reupholstering the cushions. 

Adding the Paint

Putting It All Back TogetherI chose to remove the tufted buttons, pipping, and leave the foam as is since it was still in good condition. After cutting out the new pieces, it didn’t take much time to put the material back on and the structure back together. I used staples to hold it in place and removed the extra fabric. Once the cushions were complete, and the frame was dry. I screwed the pieces back on and just stood back and admired my hard work :-).

Bask in its Beauty

This chair is special to me because it opened my mind to upholstery, and it was a pretty cool first project. I had it in my home for a while, but now it lives in another beautiful home. 

What was your first upholstery experience, or do you have one planned? Let me know in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “How I Upholstered a Wing Back Cane Chair

  1. I am so in love with this chair. Mia you are truly an inspiration and your work is amazing. I love diy projects but sometimes I dont know where to start but watching you just dive into many of your projects, I’m encouraged. Keep the ideas coming!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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