|Forum topic by schroeder||posted 2719 days ago||6380 views||0 times favorited||136 replies|
2719 days ago
I just wanted to get a little input from other lumberjocks on this idea. My partner in the shop and I have a friend who is primarily a metal worker. Not your run of the mill metal worker mind you, he builds the most amazing things, like a spectacular rifle from a D5 cat axle, or a pickup truck from scratch. To say I have respect for this mans opinion is an understatement. …Anyhow, he was in the shop a few weeks ago and chastised us for working in imperial rule, that is to say 1/16”, 1/64” and so-on. He vehemently thrust decimal upon us. In fact he made me recite the decimal equivalents for ½”, ¼” and 1/8” on the spot! His point was, if you’re trying to be accurate, 1/64” tells you nothing, but if your 15 thousandths off, well that has meaning.
I scoffed at measuring wood in thousandths, to much variability, set up and every tool I have is in an empirical form in one sort or another. My joints have always been pretty tight, close as I could get them. But, as I said I have a great deal of respect for this man and if he tells me something is a good idea…well. So I went to Lowes, bought myself a empirical calculator, (you know the one that lets you type in 1/8th inch and then will convert it to .125 inches or vise-versa), and ordered a 6 inch digital caliper from Lee Valley, I was going to give this idea a go. Admittedly, I have ALWAYS been first to lambaste people who preached “thousandths” when dealing with wood working, but as I said…the man has my respect,…and, some one month later, I am here to tell you I am a convert!
Measuring to the thousandth has improved my fits on joints exponentially, (and I tell you, with enough time and lumber, I could come up with pretty good joints before;). For example, my current project is a set of Morris chairs using through tenons. As I cut some tenons today, I worked until a final check with my spiffy Lee Valley calipers and see they are .4907 inches for a ½ inch (sorry), I mean a .5000 inch mortise! Sorry if I blow that out of proportion, but for me that is ti-eght! And I didn’t even have to check the fit, I knew it would fine.
Now, I find myself thinking about the cuts I have to make in terms of thousandths, and as a consequence, my overall work is WAY more tight. So my forum subject is, “…anyone else doing this?…and if you are, why didn’t YOU tell me about it!”
Food for thought –
-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe