Who uses trig in the workshop?

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Forum topic by Josh posted 06-25-2010 09:06 PM 2703 views 0 times favorited 51 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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106 posts in 3264 days

06-25-2010 09:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question math

As I get into this hobby, I’m finding myself re-learning trigonometry. As an example, last week when I was putting together my planter box I wanted to cut each post at an angle on all for sides so that it would look cooler. I knew I wanted the top of the post to have a 1”X1” square and I knew that I wanted to start the cut 1.5” from the top but I didn’t know at what angle I should make the cut. So I spent a day relearning how to use sin and cosine and tangent to figure out the angle i needed to meet my final requirements.

How many of you have become pretty darn proficient in math since taking up the hobby?

-- Josh, South Jordan Utah

51 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3890 days

#1 posted 06-25-2010 09:08 PM

:) finally all those classes paid off!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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1310 posts in 3228 days

#2 posted 06-25-2010 11:52 PM

I use trig all the time. Perhaps a little more than average, because I do a lot of CNC work which tends to be more dependent on the number, whereas when I’m making things ‘by hand’ sometimes one of the numbers is not as vital.

I can’t say I was not proficient in it before – my science degree has a strong math backing to it – but I sure use it more often than I anticipated!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

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13641 posts in 3583 days

#3 posted 06-25-2010 11:58 PM

not me at all ,

geometry all the way !

never get’s confusing for me .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 3252 days

#4 posted 06-26-2010 12:02 AM

I have an engineering degree so I have an extensive background in mathematics and use trigonometry on a regular basis, got to love SOHCAHTOA or as some people pronounce it (soak a toe a). Besides I grew up a long time ago next to this guy named Pythagoras and he had this theorem…

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

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1381 posts in 4369 days

#5 posted 06-26-2010 12:24 AM

I use trig often to solve design problems.
Worst yet, I like to use radians instead of degrees.

-- 温故知新

View ChuckV's profile


3184 posts in 3769 days

#6 posted 06-26-2010 12:40 AM

I often use it as well. There are always other ways to do the same thing, but we all use what we are comfortable with. I’ve taken some woodworking workshops, and there are always these “rules of thumb” that are taught. I like to use some mathematics to verify these rules.

I recently built a half-round (really half-ellipse) table. I traced it out with a string around two nails. I used this as a quick introduction to conic sections for my young boys.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Chuck 's profile


88 posts in 3442 days

#7 posted 06-26-2010 03:07 AM

I use calculus to determine the rate of change of my screw-ups with respect to how long I’ve been in the shop.

-- Chuck, Washington D.C.

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3523 days

#8 posted 06-26-2010 03:19 AM

we’ve been working with a sector


View Magnum's profile


10935 posts in 3274 days

#9 posted 06-26-2010 03:48 AM

I was going to Post something else here but It would appear to be insulting the Intelligence of the Posters above. (I DON’T want it to appear that way).

Josh: I read your description of what you where trying to do with the Corners of the Posts. I would of done it with 3 Items…. A small square. A ruler. A Pencil. In Less than 30 minutes. NO! I’m NOT trying to be a Smart Ass. I’ve done that and a lot more with Basic Tools, Eye Sight, and …whatever.

-- Made In Ontario, CANADA

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3316 days

#10 posted 06-26-2010 03:54 AM

In college I was a math major and in my professional career (I was an actuary) I used math extensively. Yes, I use trigonometry a lot.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Josh's profile


106 posts in 3264 days

#11 posted 06-26-2010 03:59 AM

well, good to see I’m not alone.

Rick: the good thing about my re-remembering day is that now I can figure out angles and distances a lot quicker and have it be accurate.

-- Josh, South Jordan Utah

View Josh's profile


106 posts in 3264 days

#12 posted 06-26-2010 04:01 AM

I think I use the trig to also confirm what my ‘eye’ and ruler think. By having a concrete number I feel more confident in my work. I kind of feel like it goes along with the idea of measure twice cut once

-- Josh, South Jordan Utah

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 4057 days

#13 posted 06-26-2010 04:06 AM

If I want actual numbers I use the CAD. Otherwise, I tend to do it the engineering graphics way. Whether it’s bisecting an angle or whatever. I learned how many functions can be performed with a square, divider, tape measure, etc. and it really stuck in my mind how many times it’s just simpler and quicker (much like power tools and hand tools) to do it the imperical way.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3367 posts in 3351 days

#14 posted 06-26-2010 04:09 AM

I use trig (and a lot of other math) all the time, in the shop as well as at work, both for designing parts and machines. I majored in physics, mathematical option in college (uni, to you people under the queen). I also work with theodolites and transits to do precision alignments of structures, so I also do three-dimensional trig.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Ger21's profile


1075 posts in 3373 days

#15 posted 06-26-2010 04:55 AM

I can usually figure out anything I need with AutoCAD. But I did have to use a little trig for some AutoCAD macros I wrote.

-- Gerry,

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