Traditionally, rush for chair seats was made of twisted cattail leaves. Nowadays, it is more common to use a tough-grade, fiber paper twisted into long strands, known as “fiber rush.” It is sold by the pound and comes in three sizes: %i inch for fine work, inch for most chairs, and %: inch for larger pieces and patio furniture. Craft supply deal­ers are usually good sources of advice for the appropriate size and the amount of rush needed for a particular project. Before applying rush to a seat frame, make sure the glue used to assemble the chair has cured completely. The rush will exert a moderate amount of tension to the joints when it is installed.

Rushing a chair seat is simpler than caning since it involves repeating a single technique all around the seat frame. Rush works best on chairs with square seats and with front legs that extend slightly above the seat rails. This addi­tional height will support the weave as it is wrapped around the comers. Seats that are not square can still have rush scats, as long as you lay down a few preliminary weaves across the side and front rails to create parallel sides, as shown below.

Before starting, spray the individual lengths of rush with water to keep them pliable. Always pull the rush tightly around the rails and keep adjacent rows as close together as possible.




Weaving a complete circuit

Once you have squared the seat frame, you can begin rushing the seat all around the frame. Working with an approx­imately 20-foot length of rush, tack it to the side rail near the rear legs and loop it around all the rails (above, left). Each complete circuit is known as a bout. Keep working around the


Squaring the seat frame

Fasten a length of rush alongside the first one, using the technique described in step 1. Loop it around the front and side rails and fasten it to the opposite rail. Continue adding lengths of rush (left) until you reach the offset marks you made on the front rail. Be sure to keep the rush as tight and straight as possible.

chair using the same pattern (above, right). When you get to the end of a length of rush, clamp it temporarily to the seat frame to keep it taut and attach it to a new piece using a fig­ure-eight knot. Locate the knots on the underside of the seat so that they will not be visible.


4 Checking the weave for square

Once every third or fourth circuit, check whether the sides of the seat are perpendicular to each other. Holding the length of rush in a coil with one hand, butt a try square in one corner of the seat (left). The handle and blade of the square should rest flush against the rushing. If not, use a flat-tip screwdriver to straighten the side that is out-of-square, pushing the last circuit you installed against adjacent ones. Repeat at the remaining corners of the seat.


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6 Completing the bridge

On a seat that is deeper than it is wide, as in the chair shown here, the rushing being installed on the side rails will meet in the middle of the seat before the rush on the front and back rails. Once this occurs, use a technique known as bridging to fill the gap. Loop the rushing on the front and back rails with a figure – eight pattern weave, passing the rush over the back rail, down through the center, under the seat, and up around the front rail. Then bring the rush over the seat from the front rail and back down through the center (right). Pass the rush under the seat, come up around the back rail again, and repeat.


Finishing the job

Once you have bridged the gap between the front and back rails, set the chair upside down on a work table and tack the last strand of rush to the underside of the back seat rail (left).


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Updated: March 15, 2016 — 12:57 am