Construct this bench using a simple open-weave technique that was popular in mid-19th century South Africa.
Step 1: Assemble the Frame
Step 2: Secure the Legs
Step 3: Drill the Dowel Holes
Step 4: Assemble the Top
Step 5: Drill Holes for the Straps
Step 6: Finish the Bench
Step 7: Cut the Straps
Step 8: Stretch the Straps
Step 9: Complete the Weaving
Position the side rails between the front and back rails, check for square, then secure with #8 x 1 1/2-in. screws and adhesive. From the ends of the front and back rails, measure 25 7/8-in. to position the center rails. Use a leg blank to space the center rails and secure with adhesive and screws.
Position the legs in the corners of the frame and between the center rails, checking for square and securing with adhesive and offset screws. Mark 4 3/4-in. down from the bottom edge of the frame then use adhesive and screws to secure the remaining rails.
Along the front and back top rails mark a center line and holes for dowels 3/4-in, 2 3/4-in. and 27 1/2-in. from the ends. Use a 3/8-in. doweling bit to drill the holes then use dowel centers to transfer the positions to the side and center top rails then drill the holes.
Apply adhesive to the holes; then, use dowels to secure the top, check for square, clamp and leave to dry. Apply adhesive to the frame, position it on the top then drill and countersink 3/32-in. pilot holes, securing with #8 x 2-in. screws 8-in. apart.
Mark 1 1/8-in. from the inside edges, and 4 3/4-in. from the ends of the front and back top rails, and 1 1/4-in. from the ends of the side and center top rails. Mark the holes 1 1/4-in. apart on the long and short rails, then drill 5/16-in. holes.
Use a router fitted with a 1/8-in. roundover bit to round the edges of the top. Patch any gaps or blemishes with wood filler then smooth with 180-grit sandpaper, prime and apply two coats of water-based gloss enamel paint.
Cut them at an angle for threading, then soak in warm water for 10 minutes to soften. On the side and back rails, thread a strap through the first hole, leaving an end of 5/8-in. to secure with two upholstery tacks.
Stretch a strap to the opposite rail to thread through the first hole and tap in a tapered 3/8-in. dowel offcut to keep it taut. Thread the strap back up through the next hole, stretch it to the opposite rail and repeat.
To finish, pull the end of each strap tight and tap in the tapered dowel to keep it taut. Secure to the rail with two tacks, then trim the excess.
© 2012 Reiman Media Group, LLC.