When our friend Austin Hager is not in the shop, he is busy as a family medicine resident physician. He recently worked with some of our Natural Cherry to make a beautiful Corded Bench. To make your own, follow his steps below.
You will need the following materials to make this corded bench:
- F2H pack of Natural Cherry (I used 1x5x72 pieces for this)
- L shaped nails
- Furniture finish of your choice
First things first: Plane and joint the pieces you plan to use. Once completed its good practice to leave the wood out over a few days for the new exposed surfaces to rest and any inside tension to relax or reveal itself. You really don't want to use any warped wood so this will help to ensure that.
Break the pieces down to their rough components. With a corded bench like this you’ll need the following components:
a. 2 x front stretchers
b. 2 x back stretchers
c. 4 x side stretchers
d. 2 x cross supports for the inside of the bench (you'll notice that this is actually not in place during the build process, and was added to the final bench after experiencing too much stress with only one cross support)
e. 4 x legs (I used laminated 4/4 cherry for this which I broke down to 5/4 thickness)
f. 2 x bottom stretchers
g. 9-10 x bottom supports to create the bottom surface (# depends on how you want the final spacing)
Prior to any joinery I like to set the wood up just to make sure it looks proportional. Having a good idea of the rough shape of the bench can really help you visualize the final product and any decisions in regards to adding or taking away components prior to making any final glue up decisions.
Throwing some details into it. I decided to add a slight curve to some of the stretchers that weren't going to be wrapped by cord, as well as the bottom front and back stretchers. This detail isn’t necessary if you like a more boxy/angular look but I wanted to add some subtle features. I used MDF to create a template that I could use repeatedly to route out the shape that I wanted.
Routing. After roughing out the shape with a pencil, I then cut out the majority of the excess wood with a jigsaw. After this I attached the template with double sided tape to the face of the wood, and then used a flush cut router bit to get the final curve I wanted.
Once this was done, I started to join the bench frame together. The first thing I did was create the front frame and back frame of the bench. I used half lap joints for this portion which I cut out using my table saw and some sharp chisels.
More to glue up. Once I had the two front and back mirror image frames completed, I actually went to the bottom stretcher and cut out the recess space is where I would be placing cross support pieces to create the bottom surface of the bench. Also prior to joining the front and back frames I went over the edges with a 1/8” round-over router bit just to soften the edges.
Next step I marked out and drilled where I would be placing my dowels to attach the front and back frames with the side stretchers. With any sort of dowel, biscuit, or any form of joinery, I like to do a dry fit just to ensure a good tight joint; otherwise adjust as needed.
I then glued and clamped the front and back frames together with the side stretchers and let that set until the glue was dry.
I then glued the bottom cross supports to create the bottom bench surface. I went over the remainder of the surfaces as well with the round over bit, including these cross supports.
Once the entire frame was glued up, I sanded the frame going from 120 to 150 to 220 grit. During the sanding process, I also marked out where I would be placing the L-nails on the top stretcher, where I would be wrapping the cord around.
I then preceded to finish the bench prior to weaving. I often go to Danish oil as it creates a nice and natural appearance to the wood and is very quick to dry. You can use whatever finish that you prefer though. I've had great success with the Danish oil in the past but I've also used Walrus furniture finish which is a great natural option. I also like tung oil.
Getting the anchors in. As I had previously mentioned I drilled out the holes for the L-nails where you anchor the cord. Now after the bench has had time to dry I preceded to place the L nails in the predrilled holes.
Final step now is to weave and wrap the bench. This in itself is a process that could have its own step by step lessons. I encourage you to YouTube or read different blogs in regards to how to quarter bench.
With everything finished you can enjoy your wonderful corded bench.
To follow along Austin's journey, check him out on social media: @the_wood_doc.