Making a Toni stool with a woven seat

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Words and process photos: Phoebe Everill
Studio photography: David White
Illustrations: Graham Sands

This stool is named for my mum who loved classic woven furniture and the fabric designs of Marimekko. The design has a Scandinavian feel to it and the finished stool works in many applications, and has the benefit of being super light.


Design variations

I’ve made the Toni stool many times upholstered in fabric or leather, or in Danish cord which also complements its simple crisp design. And of course it can also be made as an end table with a solid top.

In this article we’ll look at creating a woven seat. Danish cord is made by twisting three brown paper plies together. The unlaced one I am using is 4mm thick which gives a very  smooth result to the weave; the laced version is made with a tighter twist that more resembles a twisted rope.

This new stool features bridle joinery on the side frames and the reason for this is not just aesthetics, but also addresses the tension that the weave places on the frame over time.


Toni Stools with Marimekko fabric seats. Photos courtesy Bungendore Wood Works Gallery

The wood

To get started you need at least 11 pieces of good quality hardwood machined to 35 x 25mm and 500mm long. Add in a couple of spares for setting up your machines and testing the joinery. I’m using good quality air dried messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua), locally milled from bushfire damaged logs which are offcuts from a previous job.

Frame joinery


Lay your timber out to obtain a pleasing pattern, and once you have decided on the layout, label everything (photo 1). All pieces need to be dressed all round, but not yet sanded – it’s more important for the joinery phase that the timber is the correct dimensions. Having a couple of spares machined to the same dimensions lets you test your joinery out, before going to final cuts. It also helps to have a back-up if something goes pear-shaped in the make!


I’m using a dropsaw to cut the angles – set it to 5°, then lock off the setting for the whole job (photo 2). Once you have your first practice pieces cut at 5°, it’s time to set up for the bridle join. This is my choice for the side frame of the stool. It is super strong and also very pleasing with its opposing endgrain.


In photo 3 I’m using a tenon jig on my tablesaw. If you have a dado set of blades, this process can be done in one pass. The tenon jig is set to 5° using a sliding bevel which I’ve also checked to be the same as the setting on the drop saw.


Mark up your practice bridle join by dividing the 25mm thickness of the timber into three parts. I like to use dividers to ‘step across’ to make sure these sections are very accurate. Be very careful to have a sharp pencil at this stage as we’re going to need to be aware of which side of the line you’re cutting to on the upright. I’m going to cut right on the pencil line on the top rail, then cut to just outside what is the waste side of the line (photo 4).


Before cutting your first test join, check the height of your blade and also that it is true and square, otherwise the join will not come together nice and flat. To set the final height of the blade creep up slowly until the cut just touches the line. This is why we’re doing a practice set – get this job right on the saw and it’ll be ready for the whole job (photo 5).

I like to lock this position off with a stop on the back fence, then add a spacer between the stop and the jig to cut the other side. The crosscut blade I’m using has a kerf of just under 3.5mm so a 4mm piece of ply will get you very close.


There may be a fine shim of timber left in the middle of the join area which you can remove with the chisel; this helps to clean the base of the join. I then check both sides that are remaining are exactly the same thickness. If you haven’t quite achieved that you need to adjust until you do, this is definitely a time to use calipers (photo 6).


Once you have success you can cut all four of the uprights to length with the 5° angle. Keep the cuts parallel top and bottom, then proceed to machine the centre slot. If you were getting tear-out on the back of the cut on the practice set, add a sacrificial piece of timber. It helps to score the timber with a sharp knife or a cutting gauge before machining your final upright (photo 7).

Now it’s time to cut the other half of the bridle joint. Setting up as before, with the test piece in the jig, experience tells me that this is the one that will need the most fine- tuning. To get it to fit together really sweetly, you’ll need to be patient and creep up on the fit. The blade height stays the same as for the previous machining.


This time I’m keeping the jig sitting in the same position on the back fence and adding the shims between the workpiece and the face of the jig, as you can see in photo 8. I haven’t quite got the right width set yet – to finesse the fit, sand all of the shims until they are the right thickness. I started out with three pieces of 4mm ply and that’s about 1.5mm or maybe 2mm too thick (photo 9).

Once I’ve got a fit (even if it’s a bit too tight), I’d prefer to fine-tune using a rasp or a tenon float, rather than risk going to the saw again and making the joint loose.


Now it’s time to cut the top and bottom rails to length, remembering that the 5° angles are now opposite one another. Check fig.1 and keep the lengths accurate or the frame won’t come together.


Once you’ve cut the centre tenon on all four pieces using your set stop, with the rail still in the jig, you can then take multiple fine passes over the blade and minimise the amount of clean-up you have to do (photo 10).


Once you start test fitting the joins together you may need to fine-tune the fit. I use either a tenon float, rasp or a piece of melamine with sandpaper stuck to it. Be really careful not to round over the corners, or take too much material away. If your joint is too loose a veneer of the same timber should fix the problem (photo 11).


When you’re happy with the fit you can prep the clamps so they’re the right length – I add 5° softwood wedges to help keep the clamps parallel on the top of the frame, along with small offcuts of compression cork for the base clamps. Use plastic tape to stop these from sticking to the work. The soft wood and cork allow for the tenons to ‘poke’ through if they need to when the clamps bring the joint together (photo 12).

The adhesive choice here is West System epoxy. This is easy to brush into the bridle joint, helps the parts slide home, and it also gives me a bit more time to bring the frame together. Use two lighter clamps top to bottom to seat the top and base rails into the upright, then bring the uprights home with heavier clamps. Finally, spot clamp the bridle joint itself to make sure there are no gaps.

Once that’s glued and left overnight we’re ready to introduce the internal rails. For this I’m using a loose tenon joint with an 8g x 40mm domino.


Keep the top rails flush with the uprights and the base rail central in the frame (photo 13). Keeping the domino cut central, on narrow rails, I find it easier to use the other internal components as a platform.


Using a sharp plane and coming in from the corners, clean up all the bridle joints (photo 14). The whole frame gets a good sanding now and then the final domino joinery cuts are transferred into the side frames.


Once the domino joinery has been completed, I use a 1/4-inch round- over bit on the router table to round over all the top rails in preparation for the Danish cord weaving. Be careful not to cut into the upright section of the bridle joint, then finish cleaning up the corners with a chisel followed by a firm standing block – try using an old ruler with adhesive 120 grit sandpaper on it (photo 15).

Test fit all the joinery in a complete dry clamp-up – now’s the time to make any adjustments before the final glue-up. Once glued and clamped up clean up any glue squeeze-out and leave overnight to harden up. Now for the weaving...

Laying out for the weave

Weaving the seat is done by first attaching the Danish cord from the front to the back of the stool, which is referred to as the warp. Once the warp pattern is in place, the actual weaving takes place from side to side – this is called the weft.


The front and back of the stool have hook nails spaced every 20mm. Set the nails alternately above and below the centreline so as to reduce the chance of damaging the rail. This spacing allows for four wraps between each pair that runs between the front and back rails (photo 16).


Now that the frame is set up for the warp, we move to the weft. The spacing here is 10mm; set it up on masking tape so you only have to mark it out once. Place the marked- out tape onto the inside of the  rail and use an awl to transfer the positions to the rail – this makes the drilling easier and more accurate (photo 17). Repeat this process on the inside of the other side rail. Tack all the nails in position and point them towards the top to help avoid ‘catching’ the cord while weaving.

Front to back for the warp

Load up a ‘shuttle’ with as much cord as you can comfortably manipulate through the frame of the stool – a rubber band can hold the cord in place.


First fix the end of your cord onto the rail by winding it through the nails, or use a staple or tack. This will be covered over by the ‘wraps’, and it is also the way you can introduce new cord when you run out of your prepared length (photo 18).

Wrap four rounds and then pass a loop over the rear rail, catching the nail and being careful to not overtighten this loop. The tension on these needs to allow for the weaving process – if it’s too tight it will get very difficult.

Bring the cord back to the front rail passing over the top, and ‘hook’ onto the nail before starting another four wraps. Keep checking the work top and underneath, a simple spring clamp with some protective tape on it, helps hold the tension on the wraps. It’s very easy to get the cord twisted or crossing over, and easy to fix if you keep checking it – a small flat screwdriver is useful as a lever.


Using a wedge-shaped offcut of softwood, ‘tap’ the wraps toward the starting point to maintain the line-up (photo 19). Proceed across the whole warp, fix off the final end as before with a staple or tack (photo 20).

Side to side for the weft


Start the weaving by fixing off the end of the cord in the same way as before, winding it through the nails or stapling it. Feed enough cord off the shuttle to reach right across the stool and start weaving up, down and across the warp (photo 21).

When the loop is through the warp give it a tug and then release the tension, position the first cord, then hook the loop over the rail and catch the first nail. Pull the cord tight to get rid of the slack on the side rail, then use both hands spread wide to bring the second cord up parallel with the first. Reach under the starting rail and catch the next hook nail, feed out a loop and reverse your weaving pattern up and down across the warp.


Proceed with a few rows then straighten and correct the pattern. It is a simple process to redo a line or two if you are not happy. Keep checking for crossovers and ‘misses’ in the weaving. The weft should appear as a ‘wave’ across the warp lines, the cord smooth as it rolls over the rail and under (photo 22).

The pattern tends to straighten itself out as more rows are added, just aim for an even look to the weaving. Keep weaving until all the hook nails have been used.

Finishing the weave


Once completed there may be a need to wrap the side rail to fill in any gaps; this one needed a single cord between each pair to finish the side rail off smoothly (photo 23).


Adjust the pattern by pushing a screwdriver through the weave and tapping it across (photo 24).

Finishing the frame

If you haven’t pre-finished the timber, use masking tape to protect the cord and apply finish thinly. Two coats of Danish oil were used for this one because it is a Scandi design, and a light spray of polyurethane will help keep the paper cord looking great.

Weaving a stool is definitely a skill that requires practice, and this pattern was new to me – a couple more stools and the results will only get better.

Phoebe Everill @phoebeeverill is a furniture designer maker who teaches from her school based in Drummond, Victoria. Learn more at


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