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Why quarters?

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Forum topic by JerryinCreek posted 467 days ago 961 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JerryinCreek

59 posts in 467 days


467 days ago

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

323 posts in 624 days


#1 posted 467 days ago

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

567 posts in 555 days


#2 posted 467 days ago

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

13737 posts in 964 days


#3 posted 467 days ago

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. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

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Monte Pittman

13737 posts in 964 days


#4 posted 467 days ago

Welcome to LumberJocks. :-)

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View bold1's profile

bold1

101 posts in 473 days


#5 posted 467 days ago

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

3157 posts in 633 days


#6 posted 467 days ago

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

2876 posts in 1711 days


#7 posted 467 days ago

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 75 yr young apprentice carpenter

View BJODay's profile

BJODay

358 posts in 569 days


#8 posted 467 days ago

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

2866 posts in 1113 days


#9 posted 466 days ago

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

59 posts in 467 days


#10 posted 466 days ago

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

2398 posts in 2153 days


#11 posted 466 days ago

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

-- “That it will never come again / Is what makes life so sweet. ” ― Emily Dickinson

View Airspeed's profile

Airspeed

413 posts in 528 days


#12 posted 466 days ago

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/

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BTimmons

2110 posts in 1111 days


#13 posted 466 days ago

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

1420 posts in 987 days


#14 posted 466 days ago

It’s in the Constitution.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

View ChuckV's profile

ChuckV

2398 posts in 2153 days


#15 posted 466 days ago

Myanmar, Liberia, and The United States.

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

-- “That it will never come again / Is what makes life so sweet. ” ― Emily Dickinson

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