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?

No.

cord1

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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20 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!

  3. Hélène Narayana says:

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

  4. Jaime says:

    Hi,

    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.

  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?

    Thanks
    Ana

    • 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
    Ana

  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 DesignAddict.com 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.

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