1/2"...Was ist das?

When you travel outside of North America you quickly realize that inches and feet are not used in a lot of places (well most places). Standing in front of a group of German wood workers and talking about a ½” chisel resulted in the question “Was ist das?”.

Now technically Canada was metricized in the 1970's but we only did it half way. So now, like England, we're stuck using a combination of imperial and metric measures that makes things kind of confusing to say the least. Not one of our brightest moves as a nation. For the record, there are only three countries in the world that haven't adopted the International System of Units (metric system): Burma, Liberia, and the USA.  

Now I'm not a mathamagician but I must say that working in base 10 is much easier than base...well...base everything else but 10 that is the imperial system.  For example:

15/16” + 5/8” + 1-1/2” = X
Find the common denominator and add the numerators
15/16 + 10/16 + 24/16 = 49/16
Then convert the improper fraction to a mixed fraction
x = 3-1/16”

Now in metric with the same dimensions:
23.8mm + 15.9mm + 38.1mm = 77.8mm All Done!

To be fair, most of the measurements I use in my woodworking are referential. I can take a scrap of wood, place it in front of a drawer opening, then mark the width on the board. This will give me the exact width of the drawer opening without getting numbers or math involved. Who cares what the numbers are...I sure don't. It doesn't happen often but when I do want to quantify a measurement I will use the metric system because it greatly simplifies the math.

Ultimately do what you want, (I won’t judge you) but it’s hard to argue with the ease of the metric system.

In order to understand, you must do. - V


Vic Tesolin4 Comments