Fiber rush vs. Danish Paper Cord

Every once in awhile I see a Danish chair seat woven with fiber rush, or repairs done in fiber rush.   Are they they same thing?



Both are made of twisted brown kraft paper, like the stuff paper bags are made of.  But fiber rush, which is a substitute for real rush (as in, bulrushes, which are the leaves of cattail plants) is one ply.  That means there’s only one strip of paper twisted to form the finished cord.  It’s the one on the left in the photo above.

Danish paper cord has three plies, or, rarely, two.  You can make them out in the photo above but that’s what’s called “unlaced”, which just means that it’s been rolled so that the plies are flattened together.   Unlaced cord is the one that’s easy to mistake for fiber rush.  It has the same smooth texture as fiber rush.  “Laced” paper cord has more definition to the plies.  It looks more like rope.

When you untwist the plies, the difference is striking.

cord2Even though the two are about the same diameter, you can see that the Danish paper cord has twice as much paper.  It’s also a better quality paper.  It has longer fibers that withstand a lot more wear than those in the fiber rush.

I don’t know if you can use Danish paper cord in chairs that are meant to be done in fiber rush.  I would think…probably?  But don’t use fiber rush on chairs that are supposed to have Danish paper cord.  It will wear out and break much sooner along the inside top edge of the front rail.  Authentic Danish cord breaks there too but it usually takes a few decades.


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44 Responses to Fiber rush vs. Danish Paper Cord

  1. Solange Kindermann says:

    I have dinning chairs made of metal and Danish woven paper cord. They squeak badly and loudly. Do you have a solution to stop the squeak? I love the chairs, they are beautiful but I am considering to dispose them because of the noise. Thank you.

  2. Hélène Narayana says:

    I have two Wegner arm chairs like the one you restored. I’ve had them since 1962!
    One of them was rewebbed with a synthetic string in the late 70s. Paper cord was not available where I lived at the time. It held until now but I just noticed that two strings broke and more will do the same anytime.
    I am so happy to see that my chairs could ne restored to their original beauty.
    My question is where can I get the Danish cord and how would I find the instructions to do the weaving?
    Thank you.

    • MCR says:

      Helene, you can find Danish paper cord by googling. There are a number of dealers in the US who sell it. I learned the basic weaving technique from The Caner’s Handbook by Jim Widess and figured out the variations on this Wegner chair by carefully studying the original weaving before undoing it. It helps to take a lot of photos as you go. I don’t know of any actual instructions, printed or online, on how to do this (though that doesn’t mean they don’t exist). Good luck!

    • Ana says:

      Hi helene,
      I am intrested on knowing where you bought the synthetic string or how can I look for it online? I put synthetic danish cord and all that apears is the paper one. I feel that the synthetic one will be more resistant.


  3. Hélène Narayana says:

    Thank you so much. I’ll order the book right away.

  4. Jaime says:


    I have a Danish bench with a woven paper cord seat and it has a water stain. There was a bit of washable paint on it and I wrongly tried to clean with water and now it’s puffy and bleached out. Is there a way to regain it’s original form? Perhaps a stain treatment or sealant? Would love your expert opinion. Thanks!

    • MCR says:

      I would try a soap treatment before doing anything else. Grate 2 tablespoons of Ivory bar soap (only Ivory, do not substitute other brands, and do not use liquid Ivory soap or detergent). Mix it with a quart of hot water and shake periodically until it is dissolved. This may take a day or two; make sure there are no solid bits of soap left.

      Sponge this onto the chair seat. Get it very damp all over. If you only do part of the seat, you’ll end up with a water mark where the damp part meets the dry part.

      The paper cord will swell and sag when it’s wet but it will tighten up again when dry. Don’t sit on it until it’s dry (takes about a day in reasonable humidity, longer in high humidity. A fan will speed drying).

      Repeat once or twice if needed. Don’t rinse the soapy water out of the paper cord! It actually protects the paper cord against future soiling and stains and will make it easier to get dirt out in the future. You can renew the treatment every 6 months or so.

      • Linda says:

        Can this soap treatment be used on black paper cord? or will the soap show?

        • MCR says:

          I don’t really know how it would work with black paper cord. I do know that it only really shows on natural paper cord if you don’t dissolve all of the soap. If there are solid bits, they do not magically disappear once they’re on the paper cord, but otherwise the paper cord does not look any different at all. You could always test a bit on the underside, I guess. Good luck!

  5. Ana Senior says:

    Hi, I need to restore a seat for a ch24. Should I buy laced or unlaced paperboard? Is there any supplier you recommend?


    • MCR says:

      Wishbone chairs look best with unlaced cord; it has a bit more texture than laced which I think works better with the bigger pattern of the weave. But either is ok.

      I get paper cord from Perkins on the east coast. Frank’s Cane & Supply in CA had decent cord for a long time but then they started carrying a lighter weight cord that I don’t think wears as well—HOWEVER, they recently added a bigger selection so maybe they got better stuff in. There’s also A Country Seat and maybe a few others—just google “danish paper cord”. You might want to get samples from each to make sure of what you’re getting. Untwist a ply and compare width and weight of paper from one supplier to another. Lighter weight cord is easier to work with but you will not get as many years of wear out of it.

      I recommend Caleb James’ Youtube video series on how to do this weave.

  6. Ana Senior says:

    Hi again! And what size should I buy?

    Thanks again

  7. Elizabeth Saludez says:

    Hello, I have three Moller chairs that are 17″ on front and 16″ on back. How much cord should I get and should it be unlaced? Also, these chairs did not originally have cord. They were upholstered. I am going to do cord, but I don’t know how far to space the nails on each side. Any suggestions would help. How far from edge on each side should I put a nail and how far apart should each nail be?

    • MCR says:

      If you look at any place that sells Danish paper cord, it will say to get 2 lbs of cord per chair, so that’s a good place to start.

      Second, I recommend that anyone who wants to try weaving Danish paper cord get this book: The Caner’s Handbook. Used copies are cheap on Amazon and your library might have it, too. I learned to weave from this book.

      And third, do read the dedicated threads on this subject on here, here, and here. It’s a lot of reading but there are tons of good tips that you will not find anywhere else. Also, make sure you read all of it because some things that were valid when posted were later updated with other, better information. Somewhere in there is a link to a pretty good video of weaving if you like visuals. The number of nails and placement is also covered. Feel free to post any questions you have on the 3rd edition! I am active on that board as are others with a lot of weaving experience.

      I don’t have any Møller chairs sitting around right now but you can judge the distance from the edge by looking at photos online. There are a bunch on my site that should help. Good luck!

  8. Alfred Spitzer says:

    Is there any way to tighten Danish paper cord in a Hans Wegner Style Rope Chair Made In Yugoslavia? The rush is in excellent condition, just a little loose.

  9. Karen Wintringham says:

    Do you know anyone who does paper cord re-weaving on dining room chairs near South Lyon, MI?

    • MCR says:

      I don’t, but you might have some luck asking local dealers who they use. Dealers often buy furniture that needs fixing up a bit before they sell it and many have a list of people in the area who do repairs, upholstery, and reweaving. Good luck!

  10. Pat Dunphy says:

    I have 8 of the Wishbone chairs in dire need of re-weaving, which I’m going to do myself.

    Is unclaced cord what they were originally made with?

    • MCR says:

      Unlaced is probably slightly easier to work with since it tends to be less dense and thus easier to bend when you have to make those 90º turns. I think laced looks more interesting though. It’s really just a matter of taste. I think both were used on old Wishbones.

    • Ana says:

      Hi Pat,
      I am intrigued if you were able to re-weave it yourself, was it duable? Did you make a video while you were doing it?
      Any help is apreciated!

  11. Shawna says:

    Hello, also looking to replace a CH24 chair. In one response to others questions you say “Wishbone chairs look best with unlaced cord; it has a bit more texture than laced which I think works better with the bigger pattern of the weave. But either is ok.” and in another you say ” I think laced looks more interesting though. It’s really just a matter of taste. ” I’m curious which one is best to use if having someone else do it?
    Thank you!

    • MCR says:

      Sorry about that! That was just me forgetting which is which, something I often due. It always seems to me like the names should be switched.

      It doesn’t matter which you choose, in my opinion. I think the smoother one may be slightly more flexible which would make the 90 degree turns a little easier, but aside from that it’s a matter of taste.

  12. Jon says:

    Hello there-

    I have acquired six model 78 J.L. Møller chairs that all need new Danish cord. I am going to do the project myself, but I wanted to first ask whether I should purchase laced or unlaced? What was used originally for these chairs? Also, in your experience, is 2lbs enough for 1 chair? I’ve read different things. Don’t want to be near the end of a chair and run out of cord, which is why I was thinking I would just buy a 10lb spool to start. Let me know, thank you!! Your info. and site are very helpful.

    • MCR says:

      You need just under 2 lbs of cord per chair, but not enough under that 10 lbs will suffice for six chairs.

      I don’t know for sure which was on these chairs originally–maybe unlaced? I use laced because I like the texture of it. I don’t think this is a factor in determining their value when finished. It’s far more important to do a good job of weaving. Unlaced is a bit softer and more flexible so is probably a better choice for a beginner.

  13. Natti says:

    Do you know what is the original material used for the Wegner J16 rocking chair?
    The weaving pattern looks like fiber rush (4 triangles meet at the center), but hey, this is a danish classic so it might be a danish cord after all.

    It seems also that the dimensions of the seat is larger than the average 14 by 14 inch, so i’m afraid that 2lb coil won’t be enough.

    Any clue?


    • MCR says:

      I have seen a bunch of J16s in person and I also own one and have rewoven the seat on it. It’s definitely Danish paper cord but it’s the bigger 1/4″ diameter cord. You don’t see it very often on chairs but this chair was designed specifically for it. The slots in the back rail are sized to fit 3 strands of cord. Years ago I tried to redo mine with the conventional 1/8″ diameter cord and it didn’t really work plus it just didn’t look right at all.

      The bigger diameter cord is hard to find. I got some nice stuff years ago from Frank’s Cane & Rush Supply in CA and I think they still carry it but I would get samples first before ordering. The second time I ordered from them, the color was much darker and the paper tended to abrade very easily. Again, that was years ago and what they sell now could be something different.

      I’m pretty sure that I used 1 full coil plus a bit of a second coil. I remember being surprised at how far one coil went, but then I realized that of course it covered a lot of seat area—it’s twice the diameter of the regular stuff.

  14. Deane Bader says:

    Hi. I have a Wegner-style rope chair circa 1970’s. It’s soiled and I want to clean it up some. However, I don’t know what the rope/cord is made from. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks so much.

    • MCR says:

      Some of these were woven with Danish-style paper cord but most were woven with a braided cord that might be hemp over a cotton core—I’m really not sure. I have also seen a few that were woven with something that looks like seagrass.

  15. Emily says:

    I’m building a pair of danish mid-century style armchairs, and I am thinking of substituting woven paper cord or hemp cord for the rubber webbing on the seat and back. I like the look and feel of a thicker hemp cord/rope (it will have cushions on top of it, but it will still be visible on the back and at the front edge of the seat) but I’m having a hard time finding good information on whether that’s a decent material to use for this application, in terms of durability, whether it stretches too much, etc. I know there are paper cords that are plied to look more rope-like too. Do you have any input on this? Also, I’d like to get it in black; would I need to worry about the dye rubbing off on the fabric of the cushions or reacting with the finish on the wood?
    I’ve seen hemp rope used in gorgeous items on woodworking sites, but with stuff like that you only see it immediately after it’s finished, not after five years of use. Thanks!

    • MCR says:

      I have no experience with hemp cord so I can’t offer an opinion on that.

      Paper cord seats and backs do not have a lot of give to them. They’re pretty firm. They will probably eventually stretch a bit but they’re the same as elastic webbing at all. If you are putting cushions over them, this might not matter much. They’re not as firm as solid wood, though.

      Good quality paper cord in the brown kraft color will last 30 years or so, unless it’s woven on a frame with sharp edges. You don’t have to round the edges off a lot–about an 1/8″ radius is fine. And yes, Danish paper cord is 3 ply. Don’t get paper rush—it’s not as durable.

      You can get black Danish paper cord. It costs about 50% more and only a few places carry it. I don’t have any experience weaving it. I don’t know how it compares to the natural kraft paper cord as far as life expectancy. It is colorfast.

      When you say rubber webbing, do you mean Pirelli webbing? It’s a yellowish tan color, smooth in texture. There’s also black elastic webbing, which I use a lot—it would make a handsome exposed seat and back if you can figure out how to finish the ends neatly, or conceal them. They tend to fray (singeing with a flame prevents this). You can vary the support level of webbing by how tightly you stretch it. Go softer on the back than on the seat since the seat has to support more weight. If you do them the same, the seat will feel too soft (or the back too firm).

      Hope this helps.

      • Emily says:

        That’s helpful, even if it doesn’t tell me anything about hemp. At the moment I’m disinclined to try hemp because I just can’t find anything useful anywhere about its long term prospects for this purpose, so maybe there’s a reason for that..
        I did mean the Pirelli webbing (or elastic webbing alternatives). But we do tend to like firmer furniture, and the chairs will have 4” cushions in any case (softer foam on the back than the seat). Plus I’m a sucker for fiber arts as well as woodworking, so doing something woven (well, more involved weaving than just webbing) is appealing. 😀
        Anyway, thanks for your reply. Your work is gorgeous.

        • Emily says:

          Thanks again for the great info. I built and finished my chair and went with paper cord, and I love the way it looks and feels! I also benefitted from your looped warp Yugoslavian chair discussion – I ended up doing all of it that way, with no nails. Ridiculously time consuming, but it appeals to my sense of geometry in some way. Anyway, thanks again for the inspiration and help!
          I put a link to my finished chair on Instagram in the “website”box if that is of interest.

  16. Jacqueline D Carrico says:

    Hi. I love all the hints I’ve seen. I am refurbishing four J39 FDB Mobler chairs, and I’m using Danish laced cord. I am using the original weave style (typical rush seat).
    I’ve seen a great video, but he used fiber rush. He used cardboard triangles in between the rush on all four sides. My questions are,
    1. Do I use the cardboard with the Danish cord?
    2. Should I wet the Danish cord as you do with fiber rush?
    I hope to hear from you soon.
    Thank you.

    • MCR says:

      You don’t need to pad the weave with cardboard triangles. That is only done on rush seats, which have a different look when finished.

      Don’t dampen Danish paper cord before weaving.

      This weave is harder to do with laced cord. Laced cord is a little stiffer than unlaced, making it harder to do precise 90º turns. The turns will have a tendency to slip out of place with laced cord. If you use a cheaper cord that is less dense, it might work—but cheaper cord is also not as durable.

      I have a set of these chairs that are woven with the 1/4″ diameter Danish paper cord (original seats) but that’s harder to find.

      I highly recommend this video series by Caleb James if you’re new to this particular weave. He offers some invaluable tips and techniques that make the job much less frustrating. Be sure to watch all six videos and refer back to them as you work.

  17. Ana says:

    Hi! I have 4 wishbone chairs in desperate need for re-weaving. I live in Dubai and can’t find anyone to do this job. Do you have any videos or tutorial to share? is it something I could potentially do it myself?
    Regarding the cord, I was planning to put danish paper cord laced but, is there any option similar to that but synthetic? the ones that I have now are paper cord and is not easy to maintain with the stains.
    Thanks a lot!!

    • MCR says:

      Caleb James has a very good 6-part tutorial on how to weave a Wegner Wishbone seat. Just go to Youtube and search for “caleb james wishbone chair” and you’ll find it. You will need to watch all 6 videos to learn how to do it and you will probably need to re-watch them as you go. There are a lot of little things to remember to do.

      If you’re a careful, meticulous type of person you should be able to do a reasonably good job with his instructions but it will likely not be up to Wegner factory standards.

      Unlaced paper cord is easier to work with on Wishbone seats. Laced is too dense and stiff to be stable on that particular weave pattern.

      If you have genuine Wishbone chairs—marked Hans Wegner on the underside of the seat—I do not recommend using synthetic cord. Use Danish paper cord and treat it with soap flakes to give it some stain repellency. There are instructions online on how to do this.

      If they’re knockoff Wishbone chairs, then sure, use whatever you want. I don’t know of a synthetic substitute offhand but there are probably some out there.

  18. Rob says:

    I have a set of 4 chairs with chrome frames and just the seats are woven. Internet search shows them as “Leggera” Gio Ponti Chrome Dining Chairs with Black Vinyl woven seat. The seats all need re-weaving. Frames are round with the cord double wrapped around them (no holes, slots, or nails). Is there any reason Danish Cord couldn’t be used for this? Is the original vinyl (round) cord easier to work with? They seem to be original as all the pictures I’ve found show the same black “plastic” cord. Thanks!

    • MCR says:

      I’ve never worked with round vinyl cord so I can’t say whether it’s easier to work with than paper cord on a metal frame. Paper cord is almost always tacked at one end to the frame when the chair is wood and obviously you can’t do that with metal, but sometimes they will tie the end around a rail. That would be do-able on a metal frame.

      I don’t really see any reason why not to do Danish cord as long as you can work out a neat and tidy way to anchor the ends.

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