Innertube Chair Seat Caning




About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific...

Bike innertubes are a great material to cane a chair seat.
It has a nice bouncy feel, is very comfortable and stylish.
Use the normal Chinese or Korean innertubes you thought were made in the U.S.
They contain lots of lampblack and other stuff that makes them UV resistant and not slippery.
The highly elastic natural rubber innertubes common in some warm countries are great for spearguns and slingshots but will break if left in the sun. Those innertubes are often red in color.
The black chair seat seen in this picture has been used and abused for several years in a busy room. It's just now starting to break down a bit, but is still comfortable.

Here's what to do:
1) Get a whole bunch of similar-sized innertubes from your local friendly bike store.
2) Cut them at the valve and cut the valve stem off.
3) Weave them in your favorite chair caning pattern, stretching them tight.
4) When you get to the end of an innertube, tie another one to it with a square knot. Arrange for all the knots to be on the underside of the chair.
5) Sit and enjoy the extreme comfort.
6) Stand and be acclaimed by throngs for your fine chair. Can you say "wabi-sabi"?

This chair could also be the subject of a "turn a normal chair into a rocking chair" instructable, but the pictures are pretty self-explanatory. The rockers are barrel staves.

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Step 1: The Underside

Here's what the underside looks like.

While we're thinking about undersides of things, how about the underside of chairness itself?

Is a chair something to sit on?
Or is something to sit on a chair?
This was a major difference between Plato and Aristotle.
Plato held that chairs were embodiments of the ideal of chairness, which had its own existence.
Aristotle held that the ideal of chairness was a generalization made by us based our experience of real chairs.

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    9 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    So all of your strands are part of one long rope of tied-together tubes? Or are you using one "rope" horizontally and another vertically? Is it secured to the frame in any fashion?

    1 reply

    It's all tied a long series of tubes tied together, the knots are all underneath out of sight. I don't remember if they're tied to the frame, it wouldn't change the look or the funtion, so do whatever is easier.


    13 years ago

    Nice. but nota bene: when I've used old bike tubes for straps and such, they have begun to stretch after a few months. This chair is a much more solid frame for the tubes, and they are many overlaced; so it may take longer for the tubes' elasitcity to fade, or not happen at all.


    13 years ago

    I recently did this without all the wrappings around the bottom of the chair... Staples from my staple gun worked wonders in keeping the ends of the tube attached to the inner walls of the channel that was left over from the old caning. I haven't finished the ends yet... I'm trying to find a soft-ish wire that is the proper gauge (about 3/16" diameter) for stuffing in the old caning channel... I'll post a pic when I finish the chair! And you're right about staining... I have sat on mine for the last two weeks without a single mark


    13 years ago

    Where does one find barrel staves? Great chair BTW


    13 years ago

    Don't they get black crap all over your clothes? 'Lampblack' is a word I generally don't like to hear associated with things I sit on.

    1 reply

    Reply 13 years ago

    It hasn't been a problem. Most synthetic things are full of fillers like titanium dioxide, talc, etc. Tires have a lot more of it because they're left in the sun, and even those don't usually mark much. Tire swings for instance aren't known for staining clothes.


    13 years ago

    Nice one. I've just bodged together some bar tape using old innertubes and double sided.