A Modern Bench
Straightforward joints, graceful curves, and a woven cord seat
Synopsis: A chair by famed Swedish designer Carl Malmsten inspired Mark Edmundson to design this bench when he was still a woodworking student. Since then, he has built quite a few. It is a good project for mastering mortise-and-tenon joinery, for working with gently curved components, and for learning to weave a seat. The legs are curved on their two outside faces, but are square on the inside for more straightforward joinery. The curved armrests seem to float above the legs. The Danish cord seat is woven by looping the cord over L-shaped nails.
This bench has been part of my entire woodworking career. I designed it as a student in the College of the Redwoods fine woodworking program. A chair by famed Swedish furniture designer Carl Malmsten inspired the shape of the armrests and legs; the Danish-cord seat adds texture. Over the years I’ve made a half-dozen benches like this one, and used the Danish-cord weave on many pieces.
The bench is a good project for mastering mortise-and-tenon joinery, for working with gently curved components, and, of course, for making a woven seat. You can get all the parts from one 8/4 plank that’s 7 in. to 8 in. wide and 8 ft. to 10 ft. long. In a pinch you can use a secondary wood or sapwood for the seat rails because the Danish cord hides the wood completely.
Cut the legs, armrests, and lower side rails from the outside edges, where you’ll have straight quartersawn grain. It’s a good idea to have enough stock for an extra leg blank. Take the long seat-support rails from the middle of the plank.
Legs are square where it matters
Using the drawing on p. 68 as a guide, make templates for the leg, the curved rails, and the armrests. It’s imperative…