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Tolerance levels you build to?

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Forum topic by InstantSiv posted 07-08-2015 06:17 AM 1270 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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InstantSiv

259 posts in 1061 days


07-08-2015 06:17 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question joining milling

Just curious what tolerances everyone out there builds to.

I’m 1/8th German and I swear it comes screaming out when I measure and cut because I sit there and try to get each cut dead on. I’m talking about 1/64th or better. As I do more and more I’m figuring out that I can get by with 1/8” sometimes and figuring ways where exact lengths and consistency can be irrelevant to quality when the item is finished.

In other words… how an@l are you?


29 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


#1 posted 07-08-2015 10:04 AM

Thats funny because I’m like 3/4 German and I have to fight the same thing.

1/64th is probably my limit in cutting something to length, but when doing joinery you can get out the feeler gauges because I’m down to the thousandths.

I read the human finger can sense discrepancies down to about .0005 or something so thinking about it, when a joint is flush enough to satisfy me, its probably at .0005 or below.

Does that make you feel better?

......or worse? ;-)

Seriously, I think having matching parts the exact same length is way more important than the actual measurement, so I concentrate more on consistency by using stop blocks, etc.

Everything else I don’t worry about I just flush up with hand planes, scrapers, etc.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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bigblockyeti

3668 posts in 1187 days


#2 posted 07-08-2015 11:19 AM

For me it really depends on the project. If it’s cutting dovetails or picture frame miters it really does need to be dead on. If building picnic table from pressure treated pine or cutting white oak planks for a trailer deck, those kinds of projects tend to be a little less demanding from a tolerance standpoint.

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BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1836 days


#3 posted 07-08-2015 11:28 AM


For me it really depends on the project.
- bigblockyeti

I agree with this. It also depends on what aspect of the project you’re working on. Example…If I’m making a frame & panel door, I’ll be picky about the frame. Make sure all of the rails/stiles are perfectly flush with each other, the tenons fit well so that the shoulders close up at the same time the haunch does and it’ll stay together without glue, but come apart with just hand pressure. Then, when I go to cut the solid panel to size, since it needs some room to move in the grooves, within 1/16 is fine. But as far as cutting the frame parts to length/width, I shoot for around 1/64. I’m more concerned with the consistency between the pieces, rather than how they compare to the tape measure.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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JoeinGa

7483 posts in 1473 days


#4 posted 07-08-2015 12:55 PM

Wait … what?
You mean ”Close enough is good enough” DOESN’T work in woodworking ??

Oh my :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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Earlextech

1159 posts in 2157 days


#5 posted 07-08-2015 01:05 PM


For me it really depends on the project. If it s cutting dovetails or picture frame miters it really does need to be dead on. If building picnic table from pressure treated pine or cutting white oak planks for a trailer deck, those kinds of projects tend to be a little less demanding from a tolerance standpoint.

- bigblockyeti


I agree with yeti. My Father in Law (1/2 German) worked to 1/128” which drove me nuts when I worked with him. As a cabinetmaker, 1/32” tolerance is just fine, but if I’m building a 18th century highboy, I would be less tolerant!

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

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jeffswildwood

1330 posts in 1443 days


#6 posted 07-08-2015 01:09 PM

It seems the more I do wood work, the more strict I become. When I first got back into it, 1/8-1/16 I was OK, upset, but OK. Now I get real upset with 1/32-1/64, and not OK. Don’t even get me started with the square! I have some serious issues with it!

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way thats says "I meant to do that".

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Nubsnstubs

826 posts in 1196 days


#7 posted 07-08-2015 01:52 PM

I guess being a Cajun doesn’t really count in close tolerances, but as a youngster, I was told that “paint and drywall will cover it up.” Later in life, I always held 1/32”, but then, with the use of a good accurate slide-board and stops, the same dimension for each piece was more achievable than trying to get the exact dimension by marking and cutting each piece. We all have to remember that wood moves. Today you can have your exact dimension, but tomorrow with increased humidity, it’s going to be different than yesterday. ............ Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

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Rick M

7929 posts in 1846 days


#8 posted 07-08-2015 07:09 PM

I never think in terms of tolerances, I shoot for dead on. Most of the time precision trumps accuracy anyway.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Ripthorn

1406 posts in 2451 days


#9 posted 07-08-2015 07:22 PM

Most of my projects are guitars, so I hold very close tolerances. I have some metal working machinery for the machining I do, and it gets used for wood not infrequently. Then again, I’ve got a couple degrees in physics and look at the engineers like they’re the sloppy ones, so I may be an outlier. I say, whatever you’re ok with is ok. No need to worry about what others think. I have to remind myself that some super minor discrepancy will be ok and not to lose sleep over it.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View HornedWoodwork's profile

HornedWoodwork

222 posts in 680 days


#10 posted 07-08-2015 07:29 PM

I get it close and close it with handtools to get a perfect fit. I can’t be bothered to knock it dead off the machine, the setup is laborious and not very fun. I always rough it (I mean within say 1/8th or 1/16th) and always fat. Then I close. The only time this is not true is when I am crosscutting endgrain. I take the time to get that precise becuse it doesn’t close well with handtools. I also try and leave very little chance of error by removing as many obstacles to say, a joint closing, as possible. I find that I work very quickly in this way and I’m not having to get nitty-gritty measurements and trying to nail them perfectly off the saw/router, whatever.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

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MrRon

3926 posts in 2710 days


#11 posted 07-09-2015 05:51 PM

I work to machine shop tolerances. If I shoot for.002”, I know I will not achieve it, but I will be a lot closer than if I were working to a 16th or a 32nd. It really boils down to what measuring tools you have available. It is just as easy to make a mark using a vernier caliper as it is with a tape measure.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


#12 posted 07-09-2015 06:44 PM

HornedWW – right on!

MrRon – to each his own, but in ww’ing rarely does a piece need to fit that accurately.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View JayT's profile

JayT

4785 posts in 1677 days


#13 posted 07-09-2015 07:02 PM



Just curious what tolerances everyone out there builds to.

- InstantSiv

Depends on the time of year. During summer I’ll build to about 90 degrees. At that point it’s too hot for me to tolerate anymore. :-)

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View WoodNSawdust's profile

WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 643 days


#14 posted 07-09-2015 07:07 PM

Many years ago I was told that I should always work to the tightest tolerance I could. If I did that with everything I would never be in a situation where I was not accurate enough and I would never have to stop and ask myself how accurate I need to be.

I try to work to a 1/64 inch.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View Hammerthumb's profile

Hammerthumb

2533 posts in 1441 days


#15 posted 07-09-2015 09:55 PM


Just curious what tolerances everyone out there builds to.

- InstantSiv

Depends on the time of year. During summer I ll build to about 90 degrees. At that point it s too hot for me to tolerate anymore. :-)

- JayT

I can work to about 105 degress, then my ac can’t keep up!

-- Paul, Las Vegas

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