Two methods of processing rattan

You may be very familiar with rattan furniture at your house which is beautiful and antiques but probably you don’t know how it is processed from raw material until it is done and ready to put in everyone’s house. The process is taking time about 45 days from the beginning until ready to be shipped.

Rattan furniture


Ideally, rattan should be processed as soon as it has been harvested. Processing comprises a number of treatments applied to raw rattan in preparation for its subsequent transformation into finished products. Processing improves the quality of the finished product and the preservation of the raw rattan, and its by-products, by reducing post-harvest losses. There are two methods of processing: the traditional and the modern.

1. Traditional method of processing rattan

This is a low-cost solution; the only tools required being a tape measure, some brushes, a knife and a file. It is a good idea to wear long trousers, a long-sleeved shirt and plastic sandals or boots. 

Traditional methods of processing rattan

The three steps of the traditional method: 

• Scrape the skin of the rattan as soon as it arrives at the transformation workshop; 

• Leave to dry for three to seven days in order to reduce the water content; as a result, the rattan can be preserved for up to a month and a half. Large diameter rattan can then already be used to make frames for furniture; 

• Small diameter rattans are bent and split in order to produce strips that can later be used as bindings or in weaving.

2. Modern method of processing rattan

Although more expensive, this method produces higher quality products. In addition to the tools required in the traditional method, it is also necessary to have two chains, a curing tank, face masks and a pair of gloves.. 

The five steps of the modern method:

Step 1: Sort the rattan canes. 

This is often done during harvesting, but it is useful to check that it has been done correctly. After the initial selection of rattan, the artisan should sort the canes according to their diameter, an important job before the next step. 

Step 2: Cure the canes in boiling diesel oil

In order to rid them of insects and larvae, reduce fungal disease and increase durability from 1.5 months to at least six months. In addition, curing gives a better colour to large rattans, reveals internal flaws in the canes and eliminates the need to scrape the rattan before it can be used.

Curing tank


The curing process:

• Light a fire beneath the curing tank filled with diesel oil and wait until it comes to the boil. Wrap a chain around the rattan bundle. Put on a face mask and gloves before placing the rattan in the diesel oil. The duration of the curing process depends on the species, the diameter and the water content of the canes. Freshly harvested rattan will take 15 to 30 minutes; rattan harvested more than three days previously will take only 12 to 20 minutes. Likewise, freshly cut lianas will take 8 to 10 minutes of boiling, and only 6 to 8 minutes if they were cut more than three days previously.

• Lift the rattan out and hold it on the edge of the tank for 30 seconds in order to remove excess oil. During this procedure, it is extremely important to avoid spilling diesel oil on the ground. It is therefore recommended to install the curing tank on a concrete surface. Large diameter rattan will have a golden colour and a varnished appearance. After removal from the curing tank, clean the canes with a cloth and sawdust to remove excess oil.

Safety precautions during the curing process: 

• Use superior quality equipment in order to avoid oil leaks, burns and poisoning. 

• Have a fire extinguisher ready at all times. 

• Ventilate the treatment workshop and make sure the interior and surrounding areas are clean and tidy. 

• Follow the steps of the process carefully in order to avoid confusion or panicky movements. • Make sure the oil never comes into contact with the fire. 

• Do not heat the oil above 100°C

Step 3: The canes are placed upright and dried for 10-14 days. 

Drying Rattan


Step 4: Once the rattan is dried, any canes showing defects are rejected, while the remainder are sorted according to the presence or absence of marks on the skin. Large diameter rattan can already be used in the transformation process. 

Step 5: Small rattans are scrubbed then bent and split

In order to produce strips that can be used for binding or weaving. Large immature rattans bend during drying and can be prepared for use as chair seats or mats. Processed rattan can be preserved for several months in a warm and dry environment. Other chemical treatments can be applied to rattan during the transformation process.




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