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Preparation of canes

08 September 1997

This article is reproduced, with permission of the author, from a posting to the AusBDSM mailing-list on the 3rd of September, 1997.

After much searching, I found a very cooperative supplier of rattan blanks (in Perth) to be:

	609 Beaufort Street
	Mount Lawley
	Phone: 9227-9456
I believe that they have shops throughout Australia.

I know others have written about alternative sources of supply, but I preferred to patronise someone with whom I could discuss openly the true use of my purchases. Pleasures Unlimited (I spoke to Jamie) were superb in this regard, and I can thoroughly recommend them. The only setback was that they do not carry rattan canes in stock, so I had no opportunity to appraise the items. After much thought and simulation I finally ordered:

	Straight ( NO curved handle )
	Solid ( NOT hollow )
	Unpeeled, or raw
	Circular in cross-section
	LENGTH: between 800 and 900 millimetre
	DIAMETER: about 11 or 12 millimetre
	and as flexible as possible.
That which arrived was 940 mm in length, but after handling it I decided not to reduce its length. With hindsight, this proved to be a wise decision. The price of the rattan blank was $10.

Deciding which end would become the handle was a difficult exercise, as the cane had no discernible taper. I finally resolved the problem by examining the nodes, which resembled a pipe flared to accommodate another; much like a plumber would join two copper pipes. Assuming that the larger, 'flared' side of the node would be the thicker end of the growing plant, I made this the handle end.

Rounding of the 'business' end was the next stage. I first used a sanding-disk driven by an electric drill to abrade the rattan, but quickly decided that this was far too savage a procedure. I reverted to a manual process, with the glass or emery paper held flat on a tabletop with one hand while gripping the cane in the other hand. This is a somewhat tedious method, but it did produce a very smooth hemispherical end.

Sanding the length of the cane (once again, with hand-held paper) to smooth the nodes completed the surface preparation. Or so I thought, because the entire surface of the cane, including the pores at each end, were now clogged with very fine rattan residue. Convinced that this would impede absorption of the Estapol/turpentine solution, I gave the cane a good rinse in methylated spirits. This mild degreasing removed all surface contamination and unclogged the porous ends. But it took a lot of vigorous swinging of the cane, and hanging it in a warm atmosphere, before I was convinced that all the low-viscosity spirit had been removed from the cane.

I assembled the following materials:

  • Two lengths of rigid PVC pipe, 2cm diameter, 105cm in length (as sold in hardware stores for water reticulation)

  • Large rubber stoppers (from a laboratory supply company) to seal the ends of the above pipe

  • Two 250ml cans of Wattyl Estapol (clear or satin), and some mineral turpentine

  • A clean, sealable bottle, with a capacity of at least 500ml

  • A funnel, and lengths of fine string
Using the funnel, I drained the contents of one 250ml can of Estapol into the bottle. I rinsed the can into the bottle with an equal volume of turpentine, capped the bottle, and shook it thoroughly. Estapol is not homogeneous, and the mixture will separate on standing.

Having firmly inserted a rubber stopper into one end of a length of PVC pipe, I attached a piece of string to the handle end of the cane and lowered the cane into the pipe. Again using the funnel, I poured the Estapol/turpentine mixture into the pipe until it was nearly full. When the open end of the pipe is sealed with a second stopper, the cane is forced deeper into the mixture and the string protrudes past the stopper. Later, the string will provide a convenient means of handling and hanging the wet cane.

Twice a day, over the next five days, I agitated vigorously the Estapol mixture by rapidly inverting the pipe, end-for-end. If you do this, make sure you keep one hand at each end of the pipe, holding in the stoppers. An ejected stopper would result in a ghastly mess! The pipe had been stored vertically, to assist capillary action.

When the upper stopper is removed, the cane is seen to float much lower in the Estapol bath--a measure of how much absorbtion has occurred. The thinned Estapol dries quickly when the cane is hung in a well-ventilated location and is soon ready for a light sanding. Excess Estapol will accumulate at the lower end of the hanging cane, and needs to be wiped off, to avoid an unwanted 'blob.'

For the final two or three coats, sanding lightly between coats, I used the second length of PVC pipe and the second can of Estapol. I added about 20ml of turpentine to a 250ml can of Estapol for the final coating mixture. This method of coating is quick, non-messy, and produces a smooth, uniform finish. I used two lengths of pipe because I had more than one cane in process at the same time. And the drained pipes make handy carry-cases when transporting the cane.

I was amazed that a piece of rattan could absorb so much Estapol and still remain so flexible. But the cane was very flexible to begin with; it all seems to depend on the quality of your starting material. Poor-quality rattan will not be improved by the Estapol process, but its life will be prolonged.


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