While touring California and Arizona last month, I must have been asked about eight times whether I use the Metric or Imperial system of measurement in my woodworking.

Here’s my stance: neither, if I can help it.  If I absolutely need to measure something, I’ll use the Imperial system because nearly all my measuring tools have Imperial scales and I prefer to see smaller numbers rather than big ones (29 inches rather than 737mm).  Fractions don’t bother me.

I find that working without numbers is plenty accurate and very easy.  Sometimes that means just eyeballing it, as I did for this box which was commissioned.  (After several people asked if I designed it using the Golden Ratio, I checked the measurements and found the proportions to be very, very close.)  If it looks right, it’s right.

Other times, not using numbers means measuring directly from existing project parts or tools like dividers, story sticks, or marking gauges.  I explore this side in my article Working Without Numbers in issue #83 of Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement, on newsstands now!

3 thoughts on “Measuring

    1. Hi David,

      Today, it was about 12 degrees Celsius. I drove 53 kilometers on tires inflated to 35 psi. At the lumberyard, I can buy 4×8 sheets of 3/4″ plywood and at the grocery store, 4-litre jugs of milk and a 400 gram package of cookies.

      My driver’s license lists my height and weight in centimeters and kilograms, but to guess those numbers, I would start with inches and pounds and convert from there.

      Does that answer your question?


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