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To measure or not to measure

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Forum topic by Gene Howe posted 09-20-2016 04:17 PM 516 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Gene Howe

8263 posts in 2896 days


09-20-2016 04:17 PM

In another venue, I was asked about my method of measuring in the field and shop.
The response is below. Hope you find it useful.

In my shop there is a seldom opened drawer full of tapes, rules, dial indicators and calipers of all kinds. Some instruments are metric, some are imperial, some have readouts in thousandths, some are, through use, are missing marks and numbers. Their common weakness is that they all rely on numbers. Numbers that often require conversion. So, in the drawer are also conversion charts, Imperial to metric and decimal to fractions and, calculators for those in between numbers.
In recent years I have grown increasingly weary and frustrated with these tools and their cumbersome and often inaccurate implementation. Some of which, I’m sure, results from operator error.
I found a better way. Direct measurement. No need for numbered measurement tools.
The direct measurement set up tools I’ve found most efficacious are:
Adjustable and/or job specific, one time use, story sticks.
Four 1-2-3 blocks.
Keyway stock, 1/8” thru 1” in 1/16” increments. The 8” length ones fit nicely between the teeth of a 10” blade.
Open end wrenches.
Feeler gauges.
A good, large set of drill bits. Both metric and Imperial.
A good, large set of long hex wrenches. Both metric and Imperial (unlike drill bits, they don’t roll)
Using these tools, in combination or alone, has vastly improved the accuracy of my cutting tool setups, decreased the time involved, saved a bunch of calculator batteries and, eliminated many math induced headaches and feelings of inadequacy…in the shop, at least.
I hope this has provided some food for thought. As always, comments, derisive, humorous and/or otherwise, are encouraged.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton


18 replies so far

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a1Jim

115206 posts in 3044 days


#1 posted 09-20-2016 04:25 PM

Good topic Gene this approach is good for many operations ,I use it quite often it helps especially for those of use who have dyslexia problems.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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jwmalone

769 posts in 170 days


#2 posted 09-20-2016 04:31 PM

Gene I like the way you think. That’s how they built the seven wonders of the world, well same theory. I call them preacher blocks not story sticks but same thing. Its simple and fool proof. good topic. Key stock is my favorite, that’s handy stuff.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

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jbay

819 posts in 367 days


#3 posted 09-20-2016 04:40 PM

Everything is different and calls for different approaches.
One thing I do when say, cutting 1” strips and they need to be as close as possible.
I set the saw for 1” and make a rip from scrap. I cut the rip into short pieces,
stack them side by side and measure them all together.
For example: Take 5 of the pieces, pull an inch on the tape measure, and the 5 pieces should total 5”.
(6” if you count pulling the inch)

Just because you set the saw for 1” using a setup block doesn’t guarantee that your piece coming off the saw will be 1”. This gives you an actual read for what is coming off the saw.

-- My “MO” involves Judging others, playing God, acting as LJs law enforcement, and never admitting any of my ideas could possibly be wrong or anyone else's idea could possibly be correct -- (A1Jim)

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lew

11348 posts in 3223 days


#4 posted 09-20-2016 04:43 PM

Thanks, Gene. I use many of the things you mentioned but still do rely on a steel rule and or calipers to do some measurements.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

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distrbd

2228 posts in 1914 days


#5 posted 09-20-2016 05:14 PM


Using these tools, in combination or alone, has vastly improved the accuracy of my cutting tool setups, decreased the time involved, saved a bunch of calculator batteries and, eliminated many math induced headaches and feelings of inadequacy…in the shop, at least.
- Gene Howe

It is very comforting to know you did everything right when the project is done and all the pieces fit each other perfectly, no matter what method was used
I’m now using a combination of the two (using precision measuring instruments /rulers/charts and story sticks/123 block)with reasonable expectations knowing it is after all, wood we are working with.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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Gene Howe

8263 posts in 2896 days


#6 posted 09-20-2016 05:27 PM



Good topic Gene this approach is good for many operations ,I use it quite often it helps especially for those of use who have dyslexia problems.

- a1Jim


Jim, Lew (above) and I belong to the Patriot Woodworkers forum and, part of our activities is assisting wounded veterans who want to pursue woodworking. Many are sight impaired. I was happy to supply a few with some of the tools I listed. A couple let me know how much they used them.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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Jim Jakosh

17194 posts in 2573 days


#7 posted 09-20-2016 05:47 PM

Hi Gene. I used to be a tool maker and in Quality Assurance so I constantly use a digital caliper, micrometers, dial indicators and rules and tapes. I have it ingrained into me and don’t feel comfortable if I cannot measure accurately. I do like story sticks on the wood lathe and spring calipers for setting diameters with a parting tool.

When out of the shop to measure for a part I have to make, I always take digital calipers and a tape. If fact, I have one in every car!

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

1769 posts in 1115 days


#8 posted 09-20-2016 05:58 PM

This is a great approach, very organic. One of the things I’ve learned is making the project to fit itself as opposed, to fitting to measurements.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be. http://geraldlhunsucker.com/

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shipwright

7175 posts in 2265 days


#9 posted 09-20-2016 06:21 PM

I hate numbers! Maybe I’m paranoid but I think they are out to get us.

I am in full agreement with Gene on the direct measurement thing and have built everything from offshore sailboats to marquetry boxes with a cheap steel tape. (and that is generally only used for “rough” dimensioning)
My term for it is something like “taking dimensions from the work” but is is much more a state of mind than a set of practices. .... yeah, I guess I just don”t trust numbers….

Good topic Gene!

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees. http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

View DeputyDawg's profile

DeputyDawg

193 posts in 3433 days


#10 posted 09-20-2016 06:37 PM

Good idea; and makes alot of sence.

-- DeputyDawg

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

1765 posts in 531 days


#11 posted 09-20-2016 06:56 PM

The rule of thumb:
Measure a body part (the width of your thumb, say – typically about 1”. This also applied, in the Middle Ages, to the size of stick a man was permitted to hit his wife with, without running afoul of the laws of decency.)
Looking at a piece of furniture in an antique store you might like to replicate, without having a measuring device handy? Nay nay. there are many handy measuring devices. It’s 17” from the floor to a particular bump on my shin, and 22-1/2” to the bottom of my kneecap. The span of my palm is 3-1/2”, and the length, measured from the first wrist wrinkle to the tip of the middle finger is 7-1/2”, relaxed, 7-5/8” pressed flat. “Pronation.” (Ask the guy who fits people for ski boots what that word means.) The same thing happens with a foot.
How wide is that table top? From my armpit to the tip of my middle finger is almost exactly 26”. For the leftovers, my thumb (measured from the inside, is 2-1/2”; Finger #2 (index) is 3”; #3 is 3-1/2”; #4 is 3-3/8”; #5 (pinky) is 2-3/8”. Thumbnail’s 3/4” wide, pinky nail is 3/8”, and middle fingernail is 1/2”. I am a measuring device, and so are you. Ask one who draws human figures about proportions, and you’ll find that the height of said figure is eight heads, and the distance between the eyes is roughly equal to the width of the eye; the tip of the snoot is in line with the bottom of the earlobe; the length of the lower leg (bottom of the foot to the top of the shin) is about the same as the distance from the middle finger tip to the point of the elbow. The neck is as long as the hand is wide. Etc, etc.
How did 12” come to be called a “foot?” Oh, mebees that’s about how long a typical human adult (male) extremity is.
How tall is my workbench surface? About as tall as my leg, at the hip bone, which is also about where a doorknob ought to be.
I’m building a chair and want to know how deep the seat should be. Deep enough, I should think, for a typical human’s leg to hang over the front edge.
None of these methods are of much use, naturally (he said, tongue in cheek), when cutting parts for a segmented turning. But, that brings me to the Missing Scripture: On the eighth day, God thought He’d show off a little bit, and invented tape measures, calipers, and the like.
Don’t ask me about Canuckian numbers. I speak Canuckian, efluviantly, but I have no use for Napoleon’s numbers. (Napoleon thought he was God, and tried to make up new numbers. Like the big-brained scientist, who decided to posit an unknown, immeasurable quantity, and named it “quark.” Samultimeously, some genius had the idea to put traffic signals on freeway onramps.
I’ve spent a lot of time alone. Unsupervised. Guard your mind with your life. Like your Mother, you only get one.
“Use your head, boy, for more than just a hat rack,” quoth the wise old goat down the lane.

-- Mark

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Mark Wilson

1765 posts in 531 days


#12 posted 09-20-2016 06:57 PM

And then, click the “add to my watchlist” button. Use your head, boy!

-- Mark

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

8263 posts in 2896 days


#13 posted 09-20-2016 07:09 PM

Mark, now THAT’S organic measuring.
That old goat was probably my dad.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

1765 posts in 531 days


#14 posted 09-20-2016 07:17 PM

I have one of those, too.
How long is the color blue? What does seven smell like? Why am I allowed to continue? I got stuff to do.

-- Mark

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mudflap4869

1158 posts in 926 days


#15 posted 09-20-2016 08:52 PM

Can’t see well enough to read the numbers on the manual calipers. Battery went dead after less than a day in the digitals. Not enough brain power to convert 8mm to inch. To heck with it, I didn’t need to do the project today. I’ll just buy an 8mm bit the next time I am in town. End of frustration, and close enough for government work.

-- Still trying to master kindling making

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