DIY // How To Restring a Wicker Hoop Chair In 15 Agonizing Steps

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So, I found this hoop chair at the Nashville flea market a couple years ago. I was looking for something that could occupy the corner of my bedroom, serving as a reading nook and as a chair that co-writers could pull over to the nearby piano during our songwriting sessions. I had my heart set on a hoop chair.

I finally found one, hiding in one of the fairgrounds' many rusty barns. The chair was covered in this yellow 1970's velvet floral fabric that I couldn't decide if I loved or hated. It smelled pretty dank, thought, so the Auntie Doris floral pattern had to go. When I cut the velvet stuff away, I was delighted to find a lovely wicker chair! I couldn't believe my luck... until I sat in it. 

Risk of falling through: more than I'm willing to take.

Risk of falling through: more than I'm willing to take.

Not pictured: The amount of core strength  Hailey  is having to use to avoid a chair-related injury. (Photo by  @arowgant .)

Not pictured: The amount of core strength Hailey is having to use to avoid a chair-related injury. (Photo by @arowgant.)

Every time you sat down, you were greeted with an ominous crackling sound and at least one new massive tear. No bueno. So this week, when Nashville was covered in a fresh layer of snow, and (of course) the city shut itself down, I figured it was the perfect time for a fun little DIY project.

Little did I know that this chair was going to drive me nearly insane for the next two solid days. If you're attempting to refurbish a similar hoop chair, let me just tell you, crafters -- this one is not for the faint of heart.

But, whatever, consider yourself warned and let's jump right into this sh*t. Just like I did, without a damn clue.


Skill Level: Wizard
Time: More than you think
Budget: Whatever you paid for that godforsaken chair, plus about $24 in rope, and c. $16 for the wine that you're definitely going to drink straight from the bottle.


  • A hoop chair (If you've yet to buy your chair, do yourself a favor and get a really simple one like this. It's gonna make your life oh, so much easier.)

  • Scissors

  • Needle-nose pliers

  • A broom

  • c. 200 ft. of white rope from Home Depot ($11 each)

  • Garden shears or a box cutter, depending on the material of your chair (wicker, vinyl, etc.)

  • Coarse grit sandpaper

  • A rag or paper towels

  • Olive oil (if you're lazy like me) or stain/wood sealer/whatever handy people use to treat wood

  • Self-confidence bordering on delusions of grandeur

  • Guru-level patience (or, wine, for those of us yet to reach Nirvana)

PREPARATION: Close your eyes for a moment, and visualize untangling Christmas lights. Now visualize spending two days hanging those Christmas lights, your back aching and your hands numb, and having to untangle those lights approximately once every 3-5 minutes, over and over and f*cking over. If the idea of this scenario has spun you into a blind rage, this may not be the DIY project for you. Walk away.

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Step 1: Use the garden shears to remove that nasty, dry wicker. If your chair is made from vinyl straps or fabric, box cutters may do the trick (you lucky so-and-so.) For everyone else who got saddled with a wicker chair like me, get ready to be covered in the collected dust of 30 years spent in Aunt Doris's basement. Oh, and splinters. Several of those.

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Step 2: Realize that this f**king chair is covered in a zillion tiny, rusty old nails. Pull out those needle nose pliers and start painstakingly removing the scraps of dry wicker, and then extract each nail one-by-one. Try not to visualize these as pieces of your soul being slowly ripped away by this project.

Step 3: Cut yourself and realize that you probably need a tetanus shot. Shrug and carry on.

Step 4: Sand that baby down. You didn't count on this step, but you feel like if you're going to put this much effort into this stupid thing, you should *probably* do it right. Maybe. 

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Step 5: Admire your work thus far. Briefly consider staining or sealing the wood. Immediately abandon that idea, because seriously, eff that. You do not have time for that sh*t. (Immortal Wizard level crafters may proceed with staining and sealing. Just meditate or something while it's drying.)

Step 6: That wood is so dusty and dry, it's giving your winter skin a run for its money. Wet a paper towel with some water and a little bit of olive oil. (Doesn't have to be the fancy sh*t, just whatever you have in the cupboard.) Rub it down until the wood sighs and thanks you.

Step 7: Read this very informative and well-structured blog post on how to restring a hoop chair, and then realize that almost none of this applies to you because you somehow have purchased the WEIRDEST HOOP CHAIR IN HOOP CHAIR HISTORY. There's a bamboo spine right in the middle of this thing, how are you supposed to cover that up?? And what the hell is this metal doo-hicky in the back?? (Oh, sh*t, don't remove it -- turns out it's holding the whole damn thing together. Awesome.)

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Step 8: Glance at a nearby lighter. Consider burning the chair. Stare at the lighter a little longer and consider the possibility of becoming a professional arsonist. Your life isn't going anywhere anyway. You could start with your house, with this hoop chair inside of it. Then, you could burn every wicker hoop chair on the planet. Wouldn't that be -- oh, sh*t. Snap out of it. Hide the lighter.

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Step 9: Get the rope. Tie a poacher's knot in the left hand corner of the center wooden rung of the chair (where your butt would go.) Draw the string tightly towards the front rung. Wrap it around one and half times, and tie a tight, single-loop knot. Draw it tightly back towards the center rung.

Step 10: Guide the rope on top of the center rung and wrap it around once, without tying a knot. (No one wants to sit on that.) 

Step 11: When you draw the rope from the center rung up to the top rung, cross it diagonally over the spine and immediately to its right. Here, wrap it around just as you did with the bottom bar -- one and a half times, and tie a single-loop knot. 

Step 12: Draw the rope from the top rung diagonally back to the bottom left of the center rung. Again, place it in front of the center rung, wrap it once around without tying, and start the process again. 

Step 13: Realize that you're having to untangle the rope with almost every loop you make. You have two choices here. Either:

a) decide that the universe is trying to teach you some kind of bullsh*t lesson in personal growth, and decide to just grit your teeth and be patient, untangling the stupid thing every five f*cking minutes.

Or,  b) you can cut yourself a smaller section of rope to work with. Just remember that every time you run out of rope, you'll have to come up with some clever way to tie it off and start a new piece of rope. This is tricky. I divided my 100 ft. long sections of rope into about thirds. This made the tangling a little easier to manage. When I needed to start a new section of rope, I made sure to tie it to the back metal bar of the chair, and tuck in the ends.

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Step 14: When you're done with the first half of the chair, reward yourself with more wine and treat your rope burns with heavy-duty lotion, the kind that handymen keep in their glove compartments. Then, tie another poacher's knot on the bottom right of the center rung, and repeat the original process, but this time we're gonna do some weaving. (Because it wasn't hard enough before.)

Draw your top-rung strings diagonally and to the left. As you cross your rope over the diagonal-and-to-the-right ropes, weave your rope over and under (two ropes at a time), creating a diamond-shaped woven pattern. When you reach the top rung, loop and tie as usual, and then continue back down towards the center bar, following the weave pattern you used on the way up.

Or, say f*ck it and forget the weaving part. You can totally just lay these ropes over the other ones and spare yourself a trip to the sanitarium. 

Step 15: Tie off that last mf-ing piece of mf-ing rope and admire the fruits of your labor. Then take 2 Advil for your aching back and swear off DIY projects for the rest of your life.

Cheers, chair buddies!