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Why quarters?

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Forum topic by JerryinCreek posted 05-12-2013 08:17 AM 1196 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JerryinCreek

140 posts in 1004 days


05-12-2013 08:17 AM

I’ve asked this question a number of times and can’t seem to find an answer. Why is hardwood referred to in quarters? (5 quarter, 8 quarter, etc.) Instead of and inch and a quarter or two inches? Does anyone know why this type of reference is used or where it originated?

-- Jerry, Johnson Creek, WI "If it was meant to be different it would be."


17 replies so far

View sprucegum's profile

sprucegum

324 posts in 1161 days


#1 posted 05-12-2013 11:02 AM

I think it may be because the ratchet on the set works on many old circular mills was set up in quarter inch interments so if the sawyer was sawing 2” it was 8 notches or quarters. Just a guess not fact.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View Picklehead's profile

Picklehead

953 posts in 1092 days


#2 posted 05-12-2013 11:18 AM

Back when this all started, that’s how much wood cost. A four quarter board was one dollar, eight quarter was two dollars! ;-)

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

19151 posts in 1501 days


#3 posted 05-12-2013 12:14 PM

1+ for sprucegum. My dad worked at a lumber yard for many years and that was his explanation.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

19151 posts in 1501 days


#4 posted 05-12-2013 12:14 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks. :-)

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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bold1

233 posts in 1010 days


#5 posted 05-12-2013 01:33 PM

Set works are set in quarters, so are scaling rules. The lumber ind. was one of the first to come up with standard measures for buying and selling. Not sure if it was because of Gov. buying for ship timbers or where it came from. I’m guessing England.

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

6182 posts in 1170 days


#6 posted 05-12-2013 01:40 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks, and THANKS for asking that. I always wondered that myself, but never asked :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Bluepine38's profile

Bluepine38

3265 posts in 2248 days


#7 posted 05-12-2013 02:15 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks, hope you enjoy a long visit. I grew up with that quarters embedded in woodworking,
and never did wonder where it came from, just figured like cubits, yards and meters it was a measurement you
had to learn and use. Still having a little trouble with that metric in wood. In bolts and fasteners, I had to learn
it, but I guess I will never convert it easily to wood.

-- As ever, Gus-the 77 yr young apprentice carpenter

View BJODay's profile

BJODay

478 posts in 1106 days


#8 posted 05-12-2013 03:23 PM

Masons often work in eighths. This removes any confusion if you were to mix fractions. It is better to say 2/8s of 4/8s than 1/4 or 1/2. There is no need to convert fractions to their simplest form if everyone uses the same fractions.

I’m not sure if that correlates to lumber but it is easier to think in quarters than mixed fractions. 5/4 instead of 1-1/4.

BJ

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Dallas

3599 posts in 1650 days


#9 posted 05-12-2013 03:48 PM

OK, OK, I know I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but I just have to!

Using another term for quarters just wouldn’t have the same ‘RING’ to it.
After all, how would it sound if the term was pounds, shillings, ounces, dimes, nickles or pennies?

Now I hate myself.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View JerryinCreek's profile

JerryinCreek

140 posts in 1004 days


#10 posted 05-12-2013 03:50 PM

I really like the explanations that refer to set works. That makes perfect sense and I will have to share this with some of the folks I initially asked, especially those at Woodcraft. For Bluepine38, I feel your pain for metric. I’m old enough to remember our weak national push to go metric. Thanks all!

-- Jerry, Johnson Creek, WI "If it was meant to be different it would be."

View ChuckV's profile

ChuckV

2783 posts in 2690 days


#11 posted 05-12-2013 05:25 PM

This thread led me to find a very interesting article from 1964 titled History of Yard Lumber Size Standards, coauthored by L. W. Wood.

-- “There is a very fine line between 'hobby' and 'mental illness'.” ― Dave Berry

View Airspeed's profile

Airspeed

428 posts in 1065 days


#12 posted 05-12-2013 07:33 PM

While I sold hardwood I simply found It easier to speak measurements in 1/4s. It just seems natural so I never questioned the origins. I’m curious about this myself now.

-- http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v655/aaronhero/

View BTimmons's profile

BTimmons

2287 posts in 1648 days


#13 posted 05-12-2013 07:41 PM

The only countries in the world that don’t use Metric as standard are:

Myanmar, Liberia, and The United States.

Hmm.

-- Brian Timmons - http://www.BigTWoodworks.com

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1530 posts in 1524 days


#14 posted 05-12-2013 08:16 PM

It’s in the Constitution.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View ChuckV's profile

ChuckV

2783 posts in 2690 days


#15 posted 05-12-2013 09:33 PM

Myanmar, Liberia, and The United States.

A wise man will make all his decisions by asking himself “WWMD?” (“What would Myanmar do?”).

-- “There is a very fine line between 'hobby' and 'mental illness'.” ― Dave Berry

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