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Who Would EVER Measure in Thousandths?

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Forum topic by schroeder posted 02-12-2007 03:00 AM 6605 views 0 times favorited 136 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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schroeder

669 posts in 2815 days


02-12-2007 03:00 AM

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 –

Schroeder

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe


136 replies so far

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3016 days


#1 posted 02-12-2007 03:21 AM

I had a teacher (fine furniture) married to a carpenter. She got him to be more precise than is required, but said we shouldn’t worry about going beyond 32 or 64ths… what with wood movement and all, perhaps taking out the breathing room isn’t that good an idea.

That said, I did work on stair spindles in metric friday and found it easier, but I still don’t quite think that the tolerances required in precision machinery is neccessary in a coffeetable. My friends parents had a table that was either convex or concave at differing points of the year, only at equilibrium around the equinoxes.

But, if it works for you, I’m not going to tell you not to do it. You can still say half inch though… we know that 1/2, .5 and .500000 are all the same thing.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Don's profile

Don

2600 posts in 2866 days


#2 posted 02-12-2007 03:35 AM

WARNING: THIS RESPONSE WRITTEN WITH TONGUE IN CHEEK - DON’T BE OFFENDED.

You guys just need to know that the rest of the world, yes, the entire rest of the world just sits back and shakes their heads at this kind of discussion. Imagine anything more ridiculous than expressing the Imperial system in decimal fractions? If you start with a flawed premise, you end up with a flawed result.

No amount of flab-gab is going to change real life, Mates, but the true decimal system is known as the Metric System. It’s simple (I know – because it works for me) easy to learn and requires no mathematics other than adding and subtracting.

So, to respond to your question, ”Who Would EVER Measure in Thousandths?”; I work in .03937” = 1mm. Can you see how much easier Metric is in this simple example? LOL

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

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schroeder

669 posts in 2815 days


#3 posted 02-12-2007 03:43 AM

okay, ya gotta point there!

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View Karson's profile

Karson

34891 posts in 3090 days


#4 posted 02-12-2007 04:10 AM

I have placed a Wixley digital scale on my thickness planer. When it is on for 11/64 it shows the 11/64 and the thousands.

But when I was making a cradle and I need a couple of additional pieces of cherry. I put the dial caliper on it and it stated that it was .705 Thou. I planed the wood to .705 thou and you wouldn’t know that it had been planed a week later. It was exactly the same thickness.

Yes I do use Thousands in my woodworking.

Sorry Don but I think you were the first to tell me that you had printed my Fraction of an inch, Decimal and Millimeter conversion chart. :>)

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Corndog's profile

Corndog

30 posts in 2815 days


#5 posted 02-12-2007 04:30 AM

Hi guys. I’m new.
Us guitar makers measure in thousandths all the time.

-- I've got a bandsaw in my kitchen...

View Don's profile

Don

2600 posts in 2866 days


#6 posted 02-12-2007 04:41 AM

Quote Karson: ”Sorry Don but I think you were the first to tell me that you had printed my Fraction of an inch, Decimal and Millimeter conversion chart.”

As I said Karson, ”No amount of flab-gab is going to change real life, Mates…” I prefer to use Metric, but I do live in the real world. Everything I purchase out of the US is Imperial, so I have to work with it, and decimal fractions are easier to use than whole fractions. LOL

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

View schroeder's profile

schroeder

669 posts in 2815 days


#7 posted 02-12-2007 05:22 AM

The more I think about it Don, if a Draft would come in a liter instead of a pint, I may go metric! ;)

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

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Don

2600 posts in 2866 days


#8 posted 02-12-2007 06:37 AM

Schroeder, the following is a quote from this web site. Worth a visit.

Australians consume four times as much beer per year than any other nation. Alcohol content is high – nearly 8 percent in some cases – and it is served in three sizes:
• 10 ounces, called a “middie” in NSW or a “pot” in Queensland and Victoria.
• 15 ounces, called a “schooner.”
• In Victoria they don’t sell schooners, but do sell pints (20 oz). Some beers are in draught form (on tap) and others can be purchased only as a stubbie (bottle) or tinnie (can). (Aussies shorten a lot of words eg BBQ is a Barbie). It is called a tinnie because it used to be made from tin, but today has followed the trend in being made from aluminum. ”

(I think the ounces bit is a translation for the US market.)

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2850 days


#9 posted 02-12-2007 02:26 PM

metric is simpler
and weight is much simpler (all in grams instead of pounds and ounces)
and temperature much simpler (0 freeze / 100 boil)
but I still think in inches, and pounds, and fehrenheit
and I talk in .. hmmm what would you call this:
Weight: I would like to buy 6 slices of meat
Temperature: it’s hotter than blazes outside and yikes.. the humidity!
Length: it’s about this long (indicating length with fingers and arms)

And so, how do I measure down in the shop? hahaha oh I should let Rick answer this one for you lol…. here’s an exact quote of my measuring: “3 1/4 inches plus a little line”.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 3004 days


#10 posted 02-12-2007 05:44 PM

Measuring in thousandths is like sanding 1500 grit sand paper. Great slapping together a guitar, but could be a little much doing a kitchen. I start cussing in my shop and the wood all swells .0002 thousandths from the added humidity.

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2926 days


#11 posted 02-12-2007 06:05 PM

Well if you all would just make it perfect, no one will ever notice.

And what’s a guy to do? The sell the tape measures in 32ths of an inch. Thats what i bought, thats what i got, thats what I use.

See what rebelling will get you? You get to make up your own measuing system

View Corndog's profile

Corndog

30 posts in 2815 days


#12 posted 02-12-2007 06:05 PM

I was just talkin’ about fret,bridge and nut placement. Those parts are critical.
Set up too. String hieght at the nut ect. You could probably just breath on a piece of wood and get it to move a thou or 2.

-- I've got a bandsaw in my kitchen...

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Obi

2213 posts in 2926 days


#13 posted 02-12-2007 06:23 PM

Hey Corndog,
Ever scallop your frets?

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Corndog

30 posts in 2815 days


#14 posted 02-12-2007 06:31 PM

No never!!!Scalloping fret boards was a horribly bad joke from the ‘80’s.
I’ve seen some so-called “luthiers” scallop the board down to the truss rod.
IMHO it serves no purpose. Some will argue better access for bending stgings, forces a lighter touch…BUNK I say. That old guitar you scalloped 20 years ago may have been worth more today if you had left it alone. Non- invasive modifications are fine[ pick-up swaps, new tuners ect] but messing with the board…..naw.

...but that’s just me.

-- I've got a bandsaw in my kitchen...

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 2989 days


#15 posted 02-12-2007 06:46 PM

I did a carving of my wifes profile once. I never measure anything while carving, but a couple of thousandths of an inch on a small carving can make the difference on a persons face. If you remove to much you can’t put it back, so it looks like someone else. I’ll have to show this on a project posting.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

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