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 In Techniques

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Once you understand ‘resultant’ angles, sawbenches (and chairs) are easy.

Most first-time chairmakers are intimidated by the compound joinery used to fasten all the legs, stretchers, spindles and arms. The truth is, it can be quite complicated if you try to figure out everything using trigonometry. But if you take some lessons from other chairmakers (like I did more than 10 years ago), there are easy ways to design and build chairs without math.

So put away the scientific calculator and fetch some scrap pine, 12-gauge steel wire from the home center and needlenose pliers. We’re going to design and build a simple sawbench with five pieces of wood and compound angles.

What is Rake, Splay & ‘Resultant Angle?’

One angle. The bevel gauge is set to 15° and has been placed on the sightline on the underside of this sawbench. This “resultant” angle allows you to drill the holes for your legs with one line and one setting of your bevel gauge.

When chairmakers talk about the angles of chair parts, they use the terms “rake” and “splay” to describe them.


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