In our chair, the old spline was glued and wedged into the groove. In these cases the glue, because it has been under no strain, usually holds pretty well. You can make the job easier by using an artist's brush to paint a warm-water-and-vinegar solution generously over the spline (getting as little as possible on the nearby wood), allowing the mixture to soak in. Repeated applications over a period of several hours are helpful in difficult cases.
To start, try to locate the point at which the two ends of the spline were joined. Usually, this is in the center of the back of a seat. Chisel down into the spline at this point and work the chisel under the spline. Tap the chisel in the direction of the groove under the spline and attempt to force it up and out. If you are lucky, the spline will pop out easily. If the old glue holds and the spline is tightly wedged, you'll have to work patiently with the chisel to get the spline out. As you work, be very careful not to damage the edge of the groove.
After working the spline out, clean the groove of ail old glue and caning. The vinegar-and-water solution can be a help in this.
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