unusual trestle bench with paper cord seat

yugobench1I spotted the woven top on this bench in a thrift store and of course had to check it out.  It was marked Made in Yugoslavia, which was no surprise–it has the same look as the folding lounge chairs that are so common. But I’d never seen a bench before!

The lacquer on the beech frame was very chipped and there was permanent water staining on bottom of the base.  It was a perfect candidate for stripping and ebonizing with India ink.

I also didn’t like the way the weaving had sagged; this is the nature of this particular weave but it’s more pronounced when warp strands have to span a longer distance like they do here.  Chair seats are not usually this saggy with this weave.

First I stripped all the lacquer off with acetone and applied the India ink.   Then after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to convert it to a Danish style weave with L nails on the inside of the frame.  I added about 170 nails in all.  There was just enough room for the nails in the inside edge of the frame and it worked out pretty well.



This weave is way less prone to sagging and it has a firmer feel.  It’s so flat that the bench could even be used as side table.

yugobench3I think the ebonized frame gives it a much more stylish look.  I’m a big fan of paper cord on black!

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7 Responses to unusual trestle bench with paper cord seat

  1. thussy says:

    Process for using India ink?

    • MCR says:

      Completely remove the old finish from the wood using whatever method is appropriate. Sand any raised grain off. Use permanent India ink, which has a small amount of shellac that makes it more stable. Apply ink with small foam brush; one coat might do it but do two if needed. If it beads up, you have not completely removed the old finish.

      A light sanding is sometimes needed if the ink raises the grain. This will sand the ink off a bit; just recoat those areas.

      The ink dries quickly. You don’t have much time to go back and touch up while it’s wet so just wait for it to dry (doesn’t take long) and then fix any spots that need it.

      Let it sit for a day or two, then do a paste wax finish according to the directions on the can. Buff for a soft glow. Let that get good and dry before using the furniture.

      I do not recommend this for chair seats or backs that are all wood as some pigment may eventually wear off onto clothing.

  2. thussy says:

    Thank you – your response was very informative. I have a set of CH36 chairs in oak that were neglected for many years. I was able to get all of the crud and old finish removed. I then decided to oil one… and it came out a bit too yellow and its looking old yet again. I’m thinking of ebonizing them or going the other route and try a nice white wash. Still on the fence!

    • MCR says:

      You might want to check on whether changing the finish that drastically will affect the value adversely. Most collectors and dealers prefer either the original finish or the same type of finish reapplied if the piece has been stripped. Personally, I would not ebonize a set of CH36 chairs because I didn’t care for the color—how about selling them and buying a set that you love in its original condition? Just my opinion, of course.

  3. Tess Gallick says:

    Can you talk more about the steps you went through to tighten the woven top? I just bought this bench. The finish looks ok and I plan to keep, but like yours, the woven part is sagging.

    • MCR says:

      I didn’t tighten the sagging weave, I removed it and wove a new one. I learned to do this weave from The Caner’s Handbook by Jim Widess, available on Amazon or get a used copy on Ebay.

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