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Why quarters?

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Forum topic by JerryinCreek posted 05-12-2013 08:17 AM 995 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JerryinCreek

66 posts in 529 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

323 posts in 685 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

609 posts in 617 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

14586 posts in 1026 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

14586 posts in 1026 days


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

Welcome to LumberJocks. :-)

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

View bold1's profile

bold1

116 posts in 535 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

3335 posts in 695 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

2907 posts in 1773 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 75 yr young apprentice carpenter

View BJODay's profile

BJODay

393 posts in 631 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

3042 posts in 1175 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

66 posts in 529 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

2438 posts in 2215 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.

-- “While the world with closed eyes sleeps, The sky knows and weeps - steel rain. ” ― Nathan Bell

View Airspeed's profile

Airspeed

425 posts in 590 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

2140 posts in 1173 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

1474 posts in 1049 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

2438 posts in 2215 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?”).

-- “While the world with closed eyes sleeps, The sky knows and weeps - steel rain. ” ― Nathan Bell

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