Introduction: Repairing Thrift Chairs With Leather Belts

If you have damaged seats (caned or rush) but love the chairs, you can renew them. Duct tape on mine was unattractive so I went with recycled belts. :-)


Around 20 Leather Belts
-more or less, depending on the size of your seat. Mine is 15"X18" and I used 20 that I bought  thrift shopping
-Any width or colors you desire, I used 3/4"-1.5" widths in browns and blacks

Leather Conditioner or Cleaner

Box of 1/2" wood-screws (some belts may use one on each side, wider belts will need another or two)


Utility knife
Sandpaper, fine grit
Cleaning sponge
Drill driver with drill bit and screw driver bit to match your wood-screws
Tape measure & pencil

1. Clean/condition belts and set aside to dry.

2. Cut away and remove all seat material and any nails and screws from the seat frame. Clean the seat frame from any glue or accumulated residues by lightly sanding and wipe off with a damp sponge.

3. Measure to find the center of the seat to place the first belt in both side to side and back to front directions

4. Prepare your seat  design by laying the belts over the frame from side to side to get the desired look you want and to be certain you have enough belts. Then do the same for the front to back.

5. Take the front to back layer of belts and set to one side laid out for your guide, and do the same for the side to side layout to keep your design order laid out.

6. Beginning with your center mark for the side to side belts, start with your center belt of your layout and prepare to attach it by cutting off the buckle. (leaving only the belt strap to use) From the underside and inside of the seat frame, drill a pilot hole through the belt into the frame. Set your first wood screw in. Pull the belt tight straight over to the other side of the frame and underside . Again, drill the pilot hole through the belt into the frame. Screw in place. Trim off excess leather belt with utility knife. Continue with each belt to complete the seat layer, allowing equal spacing for weaving the front to back belts next. TIP: Keep belts tight on frame, the leather will loosen with wear over time.

7. Start the front to back layer by using your center belt on your center pencil mark.  Pilot hole, screw in place and repeat but weaving the belt one over, one under to reach the other side. After weaving tight to other side, pilot hole and screw in place. Repeat until done.

8. Sit and enjoy!

Shop garage sales and thrift shops for great belts.
Go with any color scheme you wish.
Some belts that are man-made can be used but avoid the easy to break or tear type.  If any of the straps become broken or loose on the seat over time of use, the damaged belt can be unscrewed and removed and a new one weaved in.
Don't do or get a manicure before the project.

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