« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum
Forum topic by clin  posted 08042016 02:18 AM  2059 views  0 times favorited  58 replies 
08042016 02:18 AM 
I just answered a question about figuring out an arc and this got me thinking about how math is used in woodworking. My daughter is going to start teaching high school math in a few weeks, in a charter school that is using project oriented teaching. My daughter is trying to pull together as much realworld examples as she can. In part to help combat the too commonly held belief that you never use math anyway, so why learn it. Anyway, I’d appreciate any examples you can provide where you use math in the real world. Doesn’t need to be restricted to woodworking, though that is in keeping with LJ. I don’t need lengthy details or diagrams, though if you have some specific formulas that would be great. But I do want them to be real examples. I can think up all sorts of things where I might use it. But as an engineer I use it where most people wouldn’t bother. Thanks in advance for any ideas and examples.  Clin 
58 replies so far
#1 posted 08042016 02:38 AM 
My background is in mechanical engineering of which some of can be carried over to wood working, specifically in calculating loads on members of a structure. Simpler structures like a wall in a house might be a better example than a curvy contemporary piece of furniture where the math can get quite a bit more complicated quickly. What grade level will she be teaching? The best example I can remember from early in high school was making scale truss bridges in teams using 1/8” square pine and dyed green wood glue. The objective was to use as little resources and have the maximum weight capacity when tested to failure. It wasn’t so much about the math as the concept of keeping everything triangulated. Later in high school in mechanical drafting and learning to draw an ellipse knowing only two dimension could be another application relevant if you were to make a elliptical table. 
#2 posted 08042016 02:43 AM 
pretty much basic math and geometry all the time. Electrician. For offsets and stuff. Percentages of percentages.  Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior. 
#3 posted 08042016 02:50 AM 
Look at my more general solve on the same thread … M  Madmark  Madmark2150@yahoo.com Wiretreefarm.com 
#4 posted 08042016 03:06 AM 
clin, Your daughter is taking on a daunting challenge to convince high school kids that their education has significant value. Some will get it, but it seems in this day and age it is only after several years out of high school that they begin wishing they had taken their education seriously. I recall this very question from my kids; why do I have to learn all this stuff? They seemed impressed with my explanation but their commitment to school remained the same. Nonetheless I applaud her efforts and hope she succeeds. Here are five pretty basic things derived from math, couched as questions. Most can be used in woodworking but obviously have wider applications. 1. I heard that the base of the pyramids in Egypt is distances evenly divisible by pi. They must not have had a long enough tape measure so could they have used a circle to measure distance? (geometry of a circle) 2. How did geologists come up with a diameter of the earth as 7,917.5 mi? (geometry of a sphere) 3. How do you pour a large concrete pad without the Pythagorean’s theorem and its derived 3, 4, 5 or 6, 8, 10 rules? (geometry of a right triangle) 4. How much carpet is needed to cover my floor? (area) 5. How many board feet of lumber do I need to build a rectangular table top 11/2” x 3’ x 6’, allowing for 20% waste? (rectangular volume) 
#5 posted 08042016 03:09 AM 
Common examples: If I want to make a mitered square, what angle do I cut each piece at? What about a hexagon/heptagon/octagon, etc. Using sine, cosine, tangent to calculate the angle of a cut from known dimensions, or an unknown dimension from a known dimension and a known angle. If I want to make an oval/ellipse of a certain dimension, where do I place the foci of my jig to get what I want? Using geometric principles to figure out angles of pieces that come together. Caluclating volume of a piece, and using the density of the material to figure out the weight. This is usually beyond highschool, but you can calculate the load/stress a bolt will be under to determine the diameter and or thread pitch bolt you should use. Brian  Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools. 
#6 posted 08042016 03:10 AM 
Figuring out gear ratios for clocks. Creating different cuts of shellac. Determining angles for adjacent staves in a multisided cylinder (barrel, or mast) Costing out projects for fun or profit Calculating volumes of concrete for piers or piles Calculating power requirements for a circuit I believe there is a strong correlation between understanding the logic of mathematics and good programming skills (Arduinos and Raspberry Pi platforms are affordable for classroom use) I am sure there are more but I’ve had a long day on a construction project where I, ironically, used no mathematics at all except at the fast food joint calculating my change at lunchtime. :)  "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2 
#7 posted 08042016 05:00 AM 
All the last posters were correct but maybe a bit too deep for them iff they dont have basic math skills already? Simple Fractions and Decimals, she may be taking on a fruitless/dauntless task. I commend her effort!! 
#8 posted 08042016 05:08 AM 
Wood working a Board foot, so I have a piece of wood 6” wide by 8’ long x 1 ” thick, how many Board Feet is that? 4. 
#9 posted 08042016 05:10 AM 
Good resource for calculators.  Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic 
#10 posted 08042016 05:55 AM 
You got to know what to put into them, and know when your fat finger installed a wrong number and the answer does not look right to double check it. 
#11 posted 08042016 06:07 AM 
Geez! There’s some smart people on here! Makes me feel pretty stupid especially when I sometimes have trouble just reading my tape. 
#12 posted 08042016 10:30 AM 
nightguy OP  It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle 
#13 posted 08042016 10:47 AM 
I use french curve rulers both in woodworking and trading stocks. They do the math for me.  earthartandfoods.com 
#14 posted 08042016 10:59 AM 
When I worked as a sheet metal worker I often needed to know how long a duct was required to offset an certain amount at 45°, using 45° ells. I multiplied the offset by the square root of 2. (1.41) to get this dimension. When making a round pipe I needed to know the total circumference of the wanted round duct in order to make it. C=pi d Just two examples in working with metal..  No PHD, but I have a GED and my DD 214 
#15 posted 08042016 12:51 PM 
Ask them to solve problems involving the most efficient way to build a particular item. For example – you have 3 pieces of 1×6x8 lumber and you wish to build a square coffee table. What are the max dimensions the table can be? Then take it a step further and have them try building a mini version of something using balsa wood, or maybe a full size version depending on the school’s facilities. I’m not great at math but I teach high school. Kids like to solve problems and they like when there are multiple solutions they can share with each other. Good luck to your daughter. 
Have your say...
You must be signed in to reply.

Forum  Topics 

Woodworking Skill Share

11853 
Woodturning

1956 
Woodcarving

409 
Scrollsawing

324 
Joinery

1279 
Finishing

4689 
Designing Woodworking Projects

6496 
Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories

27235 
CNC Woodworking

193 
Hand Tools

5238 
Jigs & Fixtures

1369 
Wood & Lumber

6041 
Safety in the Woodworking Shop

1340 
Focus on the Workspace

2071 
Sweating for Bucks Through Woodworking

1169 
Woodworking Trade & Swap

4670 
LumberJocks.com Site Feedback

2178 
Coffee Lounge

8689 