The Danish Cord Bench relies on a solid frame to distribute the weight of the sitter evenly. The frame had to be strong, but also flexible so that it was comfortable. The three way joint between the legs, and the front and side rails was therefore the first place to start in the fabrication of the bench.
I started by making the legs. They began as 3"x3" square blanks. I cut the bridal joint, as well as the front to back mortises for the side rails I then mounted the mortised legs onto the lathe and turned them. You may have noticed that the legs are tapered, but not symmetrically. They have a taper that is biased to one side. I turned them into cylinder , and then changed the centre point. This created a cylinder that spun asymmetrically, and when turned, became this special turning.
The next step was to join the front rails to the bridal joint of the legs. I roughed out the joint with a dado stack on the table saw, leaving it 1/32 big. I then fit it slowly by shaving 1/64 with the router plane until it fit snugly.
The next step was to join the side rails that pierced through the bridal joint, and out the front of the leg. I crept up on this fit with the router plane again. i chamfered the front of the side rail tenons to help them navigate their way through the leg. I fit this whole thing with tight tolerances, but in reality, the fact that there are three pieces involved created a very tight fit.
Once these four joints were fit, the frame was solidified. Next I moved on to shaping the front and back rails, as well as cutting the groove in all the rails for the danish cord to wrap through.
I cut out the basic shape of the rails on the band saw leaving 1/8 of waste on the outside of the line. I could have cut right to the line on the bandsaw and then cleaned up the bandsaw marks with abrasive tools, but because I was making three benches the same, I made a set of pattern jigs to clean up the bandsaw marks, as well as create parts that were all exactly the same. Three benches= 6 rails, and it was much easier to rout a clean surface then clean up all 6 with a file and sandpaper.
I made three jigs for the front/back rails: one for the top edge, one for the bottom edge and one for the 1/4 slot that accepts the danish cord. The pic above shows the fist jig set up to cut the bottom edge.
Once I had used all three jigs, and the rails were cut identically to size, I did some hand shaping. In the pictures above you can see me laying out the line that I would follow when cutting the chamfer detail on the bottom edge. I laid out the arc on the face, and then the depth line on the bottom edge, and cut the detail with a spoke shave.
At this point I sanded all my parts for assembly: 150, 180,220, 320. Then it was time to assemble the frame.
Although the leg to rail joint was a bit tricky to cut, it was fairly easy to assemble. I could go one at a time (for the first two) and I didn't need clamps because the side rails were secured with wedges. I just liberally spread glue on all the inside surfaces, slid the joint together, and tapped home the wedges. I was careful with the wedges, because if you hammer them with too much force, they can easily split the joint.
Once the frame was together I made sure no glue has escaped the joint, and finished the tops of the legs with e 'pillowed' detail.
I hand cut the pillow with a rasp, first with an even chamfer to set the base line, and then slowly working my way toward the middle. Once I had it shaped with a rasp, I smoothed the end grain with a file, and then sandpaper. At this point I also cleaned up the wedged tenons, cutting them flush, and sanding them out.
Finally, after double checking my sanding, I finished the frame with oil/wax on the Walnut, and Wax on the ash.
When I was happy with the finish, I moved on to weaving the danish cord. The cord comes in a bail, and you need to be very careful not to tangle it up. Some people mount the bail of cord on a turntable (smart) but I just wrestled with it continually.
I used a small upholster's hammer to set the L shaped nails into the inside of the rails. Spacing of the L nails is directly related to the shape and spacing of your weave. I found that 15/16" spacing on my front/back rails and 1/2" spacing on my side rails gave me a tight weave that wasn't too tight to work with. I have seen many varieties and styles of weaves, and the design style is a creative opportunity. My benches are woven with a classic 'basket weave' style.
Once you are happy with the spacing, you can start the weaving. Then its over/ under, in/ out, up/down.....for hours. A bit fun, a bit boring, defiantly hard on your hands.
I used some youtube videos for visual examples of the process, and with a little perseverance the job got done.
The second and third bench were easier and easier as I learned the ins and outs of the process. I found that it was important to watch for imperfections in straightness the whole way through and correct regularly. Also, it is counter intuitive, but when you are actually weaving along the length, you don't want to pull the strings too tight.
The Danish Cord material is actually quite stiff , and it needs some slack to fit tightly in the weave. Tough to describe in words, easy to see when you are doing it.
Hopefully when you are done your seat will look like the one below. Like anything, the first time is the hardest, and may not be perfect. But weaving is a simple techniques that with practice, becomes easier.