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Thread: Switch to Metric? Yes or No

  1. #1
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    Switch to Metric? Yes or No

    Hi.

    In a recent thread I remember someone saying "I just switched to metric and I am lovin' it " (Jim Becker maybe?)

    That got me thinking. I am familiar with the metric system. But not sure what there is to Love about switching to it.

    If I am making multiple pieces I use stops of some kind, so the initial measurement once done is irrelevant. If I am making something to fit somewhere I use sticks to determine the distance and make my cut accordingly. Metric or Imperial does not come into play.

    So is there something that make the switch to metric, in countries (or is that Country?) that do not use it, that is a real game breaker?

    As an aside, I have this really stupid Harbor Freight tape measure that is metric on one side and imperial on the other. What a crazy idea! I hate it.

    So to those of you who have switched, is there something that makes the metric system superior for us in the US that still have 4x8 plywood and lumber dimensioned in inches and feet?

    Bill
    Too much to do...Not enough time...life is too short!

  2. #2
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    No for me. As a one time machinist my mind always thinks in 3-place decimals. I can work in metric, it’s just not as effortless. Old dog, new tricks.
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  3. #3
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    Yes, that was me. And I remain committed to it wherever it's practical. There will still be some situations when inches will have to come into play, but I'm really finding metric to be so much easier for layout. And honestly, the size of a full piece of plywood really doesn't matter...in fact much of what I buy is slightly oversize anyway and pretty much all of it is in metric thicknesses. In reality, it doesn't matter what system you use as long as the end-result is accurate, however...

    I also can appreciate Bruce's comments...as someone who has worked extensively with a different system for so long in a profession that involves measuring, moving to something else isn't all that practical. For me...that was not the case. None of my work in the 38 years I spent in the full time workforce required any kind of measuring. Well, perhaps the two years I was in the insulation contracting business, but that wasn't, umm...setup for any kind of close precision.
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  4. #4
    You're still safe to say countries, as Burma and Liberia are still not on board

    I've lived outside the US for most of my life and find the conversions very difficult, especially when things get small. Not having anything smaller than an inch gets quite confusing for us foreigners Even 1/16" is about 1.6mm, and I work for a company where measurements shorter than that can be important. I am adjusting to try to convert on the fly with a decent approximation.

  5. #5
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    Switching from inches to centimeters doesn't bring much benefit to me. But switching from fractions to decimals is a huge benefit. Doing math in fractions is difficult and error-prone. So I work in decimal inches.

  6. #6
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    Spent my working career as a machinist and I'll take thousandths and ten thousandths of an in any day.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Yes, that was me. And I remain committed to it wherever it's practical. There will still be some situations when inches will have to come into play, but I'm really finding metric to be so much easier for layout. And honestly, the size of a full piece of plywood really doesn't matter...in fact much of what I buy is slightly oversize anyway and pretty much all of it is in metric thicknesses. In reality, it doesn't matter what system you use as long as the end-result is accurate, however...

    I also can appreciate Bruce's comments...as someone who has worked extensively with a different system for so long in a profession that involves measuring, moving to something else isn't all that practical. For me...that was not the case. None of my work in the 38 years I spent in the full time workforce required any kind of measuring. Well, perhaps the two years I was in the insulation contracting business, but that wasn't, umm...setup for any kind of close precision.
    Bruce and Jim, y'all bring up a good point that I hadn't considered before. I've been working with feet and inches almost on a daily basis since I was 9 years old. It's over 40 years now. What's the point of changing at this point? I could work in metric if I had to, but I don't. Also, as I've mentioned before, my customers order in inches. Converting would like just lead to errors. If I were building stuff just to suit me then it wouldn't matter. I got a CNC about 8 years ago and that's when I started using calipers and decimals in the shop.

  8. #8
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    I lofted plans for a 6m sailboat that were in metric a few years ago and I was wishing all boat plans were in metric. It was a dream. Lofting in imperial units requires crazy fractions.

    I grew up with both systems, so I “think” in metric, and that is the key to making the switch- you need to start thinking in metric. Can you visualize a kilo of dry goods, a decimeter width of wood, or a liter of a liquid? It helps if you have the visualization.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Derryberry View Post
    Bruce and Jim, y'all bring up a good point that I hadn't considered before. I've been working with feet and inches almost on a daily basis since I was 9 years old. It's over 40 years now. What's the point of changing at this point? I could work in metric if I had to, but I don't. Also, as I've mentioned before, my customers order in inches. Converting would like just lead to errors. If I were building stuff just to suit me then it wouldn't matter. I got a CNC about 8 years ago and that's when I started using calipers and decimals in the shop.
    You can use metric just as easy as inches on a CNC I have to use both at times I think metric is easier and I have been using inches for almost 70 years. My CNC is set up for inches but the one where I used to work was in metric. Also my laser is metric and I use the same software for both CNC and laser Vectric Aspire it converts both ways. When I was installing fixture for CVS drug stores they used Lozer and Ontario Store Fixture. Lozer was inches and OSF was metric. When I set OSF I had to allow more space as it was just a little larger than lozer.

  10. #10
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    I know I could use metric on the CNC. I was just commenting that the CNC prompted me to refine my accuracy from 1/32" to 0.001".

    I still think in fractions and know the decimal equivalents by heart.

    To complicate things when I was a commercial superintendent I had to work in feet and inches for the building and feet and hundredths (as 1/100th of a foot, roughly 1/8") for the site work. There was always some overlap to keep things interesting too.

  11. #11
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    The medical field converted to metric long ago. During my 34 year professional career, I used metric daily.

    I actually have a non-HF tape that I used at work that has both metric and Imperial on it. I liked it, broke one and bought another one as a replacement.
    Last edited by Ken Fitzgerald; 02-06-2018 at 9:49 PM.
    Ken

  12. #12
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    I forgot about the tape mentioned in the OP...I don't have a dual-purpose tape measure, although if I get involved in any install work for things I produce in the future, I may get one for that particular purpose for convenience. Right now, for metric, I use a metric tape (Veritas) and for Imperial, I use an Imperial tape (Stanley). My metal rules, however, are inches on one side and metric on the other. Fortunately, the metric side is generally the most convenient for the way I measure things. I got new rules for my Starrett combination squares that are just metric, but I keep one additional square with the "good" Starrett Imperial rule in it, too, for convenience. I'm thinking about getting the 600mm Woodpeckers layout tee square at some point...'may ask for it for my birthday.
    --

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  13. #13
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    I did find that metric is the way to go when working on cars. Trying to center a seat base on an existing hole pattern got a lot easier when I realized the patterns were both metric. years ago I mounted fog lights on a Volvo Bumper and using metric to align them equal distances apart convinced me.
    I believe Ford switched from inches to metric dimensions for most body parts by the model T in 1909.
    Bill
    Last edited by Bill Dufour; 02-06-2018 at 8:56 PM.

  14. #14
    There's two kinds of countries. Those that put a man on the moon, and those that use the metric system....

    It's a stick. Nothing more. I use imperial in decimal and fraction. I also use SI. There's no difference, just a stick. I can run fractions in my head way easier than decimals though.

    My only problem with SI is having a single unit of measure. That's a bizarre concept to me.
    Last edited by Martin Wasner; 02-06-2018 at 8:58 PM.

  15. #15
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    The conversion in the US will happen because industry has to use metric to trade with other countries. In some ways you could say the conversion has already gone a long way down the road not just at the level the average person operates at. I am building a chair at the moment in imperial measurements and I found it surprising how easily I found it not having used Imperial measurements for over 30 years and being forced to convert when the plans I received to build my shed were all in metric. I detest fractions and anything to do with them, they are a clumsy calculation that promote errors and should be binned as a measurement and decimals used. I think it is advisable if changing not to convert, forget all about it and work within the system you choose. I did not try and convert the imperial plan to metric, it simply does not work. I would suggest to anyone who is not sure about working in metric or criticises the idea to find a simple project in metric, pick up a tape or rule in metric and start from there. I find it so much easier than imperial due to being literally math challenged due to my short schooling life. I agree with the poster above, we tend to measure too much rather than use the project pieces to define the measurement no matter what system we work in.
    Chris

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