First-time chairmakers often confuse the terms “rake” and “splay” – and never mind the other names for the other angles in a chair.
After I took my first chairmaking class 11 years ago, I made up this little explanation for myself so I wouldn’t forget.
Chairs are like saws.
When you look at a saw from the side, you can see the teeth raking forward or backward (depending on the filing). When you look at a chair from the side, you are seeing the rake of the legs. And chair legs can rake forward or back – just like sawteeth.
When you look a saw from the front, you can see the teeth bent out from the sawplate. This is called the set. When you look at a chair from the front, you can see the legs splay out (they never splay inward that I know of). “Set” and “splay” both begin with “s.”
OK, it’s not the most perfect explanation, but it has prevented me from mixing up the terms for many years now.
— Christopher Schwarz