Page 1 of 11 12345 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 156

Thread: Should I learn Metric now? Beginning woodworker help.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Location
    Central Wisconsin
    Posts
    115

    Question Should I learn Metric now? Beginning woodworker help.

    I would say i'm a beginner of "fine woodworking", but i've been building stuff for 20 years. Gazeebo Eagle Scout project, deer stands, garage storage, fences, car ports, remove load bearing wall.....

    I'm in Wisconsin USA and learned on the imperial system, but i'm wondering if I should start measuring things and using tools in Metric.

    Any of you Americans make the switch and wish you did sooner?

    Any not so obvious reasons why I should not and just stick to Imperial?

    Is Metric more accurate or precise?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    9,233
    There's one more possibility: decimal inches. You get to use the decimal system, which is way better than fractions. And you get to use inches, which you and your suppliers both understand.

    American machinists have been using decimal inches since the eighteenth century. That's why we have things like 45 and 22 caliber bullets -- that's .45" and .22".

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    Posts
    5,815
    I measure parts off each other, to assure best fit.

    Any measuring system that uses a tape measure, yard (or meter) stick or laser range finder is subject to transposition errors.

    Marking pieces in place reduces such errors.

    I favor a marking knife and double square for layout.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Location
    Central Wisconsin
    Posts
    115
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    There's one more possibility: decimal inches. You get to use the decimal system, which is way better than fractions. And you get to use inches, which you and your suppliers both understand.

    American machinists have been using decimal inches since the eighteenth century. That's why we have things like 45 and 22 caliber bullets -- that's .45" and .22".
    didn't know about that.
    i'll have to see if incra, or the table saw I might get has rulers like that. Maybe wixey has a digital fence that also does inch-decimel. I feel like they would.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    674
    Plenty of outstanding work done in both systems. I don't think learning metric would hurt you in anyway either. (I.e. become "bilingual".)

    That said woodworking generally doesn't need high precision, just like parts matching with high accuracy. How you achieve this depends how you are working. E.g: Neander's will scribe lines from part or space to the next stock to be cut. A power tool user will learn to set the table saw fence and cut all like parts without moving it. (Derek Cohen extensive posts documenting his builds where you can see this in practice. He does a lot of handwork, but also uses power tools. Plus he works in metric and it's never interfered with understanding what he's doing.)

    I'd guess, working in the US, you'll end up choosing inches & fractions because so many of our supplies are imperial and marked that way.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Lafayette, CA
    Posts
    411
    I reach my limit with inches when I run into the need to take half of 23-11/16. Then I tend to convert using the calculator on my phone and maybe convert back to inches if need be.

    Also, when I'm checking the extension of a plane iron from an Eclipse jig, I use mm.

  7. #7
    Itís odd. As a old Canadian I was born in the British Imperial system with inches and gallons and bushels and pecks, but everything has been meters and litres and kilometres for many decades and I have adapted in some areas and not in others. The metric system just makes sense any time you are calculating. Gas mileage, for instance, ratios, conversions. But I have continued to use inches for woodworking because for the most part it is measurement rather than calculation and Iím mentally lazy. Though if I have to divide 2í 7 7/16Ē into thirds, Iíd reach for my metric measuring tape!

    It doesnít have to be an either-or. Itís trivial to just use another scale ó maybe even fun to try: but maybe not buy the Starrett rules until youíre sure.
    Life is too short for dull sandpaper.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    789
    I grew up with the metric system. When I started woodworking (about 18 yrs ago) I pretty much had to use the imperial system because table saw fence and some of the other common scales were all imperial. Now I use a euro combo machine that has both scales. If I had not already invested into the imperial system, I would certainly switch to metric. May still do one day.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    674
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Jones 5443 View Post
    I reach my limit with inches when I run into the need to take half of 23-11/16....
    Dividing in half is one thing that works pretty well with fractional inches. (23-11/16 / 2 = 11-16/32 + 11/32 = 11-27/32.)

    Try dividing something into thirds. (Get the calculator out, convert to decimal inches, divide, and then try to find a fractional inch equivalent that isn't ridiculous, or...)

    Use the "old fashioned" way: get the dividers out, step it off, and don't worry about what the value is!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Fairfield County, CT
    Posts
    45
    When I started woodworking about 10 years ago I made the decision to go metric (having grown up in the US / imperial) - took a little getting used to but I am glad I did l, and can convert back and forth and work in either system now.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    1,980
    Grew up in Imperial, went into science and learned about metric, concluded that we were insane for not having adopted it back in 1790. I lived with a mixed shop for a long time and just last year went through and did the full metric conversion-- mostly involving putting new sticky-back tapes where needed and buying a couple more rules and measuring tapes (the 5.5 m tapes from Tajima are great!) I still have a few things that I won't replace, like a good set of inch Forstner bits. and lots of stuff where it doesn't matter.

    The one thing to avoid at all costs is doing conversions. That will kill your accuracy and drive you crazy. Just learn what a centimeter looks like and think in those terms. It's awkward at first and then becomes second nature. It does tend to drive my wife crazy when we're cooking because I can eyeball 500 g of flour or 100 g of butter to within a couple percent but can't for the life of me tell her how many cups or furlongs or whatever that might be.

  12. #12
    Another vote for decimal inches. I make a living at woodworking, and it is the quickest and most precise for my shop.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Lebanon, TN
    Posts
    880
    I made the switch from Imperial to Metric as my 2020 New Years resolution.

    My biggest obstacle was re-buying some tools, that I like to use, in Metric. To convert, I estimate I spent around $500 in the process.

    I printed and laminated a conversion sheet, that hangs on a wall, so I can always quick reference back to that if necessary.

    After 6 months, I'm just starting to be able guesstimate things in millimeters, say like I know I need something 64", I have to go to my chart instead of just to my metric tape measure.

    Neither method is more accurate than the other, but I think it's less likely to make mistake on metric where the divisions are fewer, i.e. my rulers, tape measures are only marked in mm and cm, whereas, my rulers some are 1/10, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, etc.

    There are times I still revert back, but that's more when I'm doing construction type stuff.

    You don't loose anything by training yourself to use metric, you just need to be consistent when you start until you are comfortable with it.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Western Nebraska
    Posts
    3,775
    Decimal inches are good for precise. Using a standard dial caliper is nice. Tried metric for a while just for fun, but found that I was just converting it all back to imperial when I was thinking something through. Didn't make anything easier so decided the experiment was over. Inches and fractions work just fine for most of my work.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Toronto Ontario
    Posts
    10,049
    I went metric in woodworking decades ago.

    It's easier than fractions, plywood thickness is metric and most of the tooling in the world is metric.

    Designing in metric is far easier, and nobody can tell whether the leg is 50mm or 2" thick. That's the secret, don't convert your design from Imperial to metric.

    Make the legs 50mm thick, plane boards to 20mm thick not 3/4".

    Have fun, it's worth converting.

    Regards, Rod.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •