“I was depressed, but that was a side issue. This was more like closing up shop, or, say, having a big garage sale, where you look at everything you've bought in your life, and you remember how much it meant to you, and now you just tag it for a quarter and watch 'em carry it off, and you don't care. That's more like how it was.”
― Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres
I cannot be the first chairmaker to think of this. Simply can't. But anyway. Stretchers.
Like I was taught, a couple rubber bands, measure the distance, add a 1/4" and there ya go. Assuming you measured right. Assuming the stretchers bulbs are 1 3/4". assuming you drilled exactly 1" etc. Any addition of assumption leads to mistake. So I use a two step process.
I first get a rough ( but really pretty accurate idea ) of the length using rubber bands. Say the measure is 17 1/4". I then turn the stretcher say 17 3/4". Or 18". Really a ballpark shot.
Then I use two dowels placed in the already drilled holes and mark where they intersect. A quick measure and vi-o-la. The exact length that the stretcher needs to be. Like I said I can not be the first to think of this, but it does work for me. I then cut the stretcher to length, and assemble.