Wednesday Shop Wisdom

All woodworkers are told, “Measure twice, cut once.”

The reality is:

  • Measure five times, get three different answers, take the average.
  • Check against drawings three times.
  • Realize you have the wrong drawing.
  • Do mental math on fractions.
  • Remind your self that on 1/4 plus 1/2 isn’t 3/2, it’s 3/4.
  • Do the math on your phone’s calculator while trying to remember fraction to decimal conversions (1/2 = .5, 1/4 = .25, 1/8 = something).
  • Resolve to start using the metric system.
  • Cut part 1/8 inch too long.
  • Try cutting 1/8 inch off part, but really cut 1/4 inch off.
  • Tell peopleย you thought the whole project was 1/2 inch too long so you shortened the whole thing by an inch.

More shop stuff next week,


About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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36 Responses to Wednesday Shop Wisdom

  1. vonholdt says:

    love this, so true!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, thank you for making me laugh out loud. Second, your scenario (with some modification) also applies to a certain young woman trying to make her own dress for an 8th grade dance (except without the phone calculator…) in 1967. OMG – it was brutal!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ugh. sounds so frustrating but true. That would be me for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So thatโ€™s why they were called Vulgar Fractions in school. Thank God for metrics.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dorannrule says:

    Somehow I knew you were a genius. ๐Ÿ˜Š


  6. Bahahaha!!! Sounds like one of my projects; except I was never smart enough to pretend I meant to do it that way. The only good thing to come out of my painful career as an interior designer was the fact that the decimal conversions for fractions are permanently lodged in my brain. Sometimes you win.

    As our neighbour used to say: “Dang it, I’ve cut that board twice and it’s still too short!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m going to have to use what your neighbor said, happens to me all the time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • CJ Hartwell says:

      There was a period in my life when I did a lot of sewing, and yes, those decimal skills remain!
      What I don’t understand though is why we used them so much and woodworkers didn’t. Or were we just better at remembering them? ๐Ÿค”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Generally, if you get to with 1/8 of an inch in woodworking, you can fill the gap with filler, paint over it and skip the math. Harder to do that with fabric.

        Liked by 2 people

      • My recall came from constant repetition – I worked as a CAD draftsman and it was much faster for me to type a decimal value than a fractional one. After doing that for 8 hours a day 5 days a week for a few years, those decimals will never leave my brain. I might not remember what I ate three hours ago, but I’ll never forget that 5/8 = 0.625.

        Liked by 1 person

        • In most machine shops I’ve worked in they always have a “decimal equivalents” posted on a wall, so all you have to do is go look. For reasons I don’t understand, woodworkers don’t post that chart in their workshops. And CAD work I did was all in decimals, because the crew in the electronics fab area didn’t use fractions. I am doomed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          Liked by 1 person

  7. lifelessons says:

    Ha. Someone has been spying on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. momshieb says:

    One of my Dad’s favorite sayings….my husband and I repeat it over and over again every year.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. GP Cox says:

    On HGTV’s show ‘Home Town’, the Scotsman has a sign in his carpentry shop that reads – “Measure once, cuss twice.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Where theory meets reality. Yep.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. PiedType says:

    Lol. All I can say is, I don’t know how I managed before computers. Calculators are no good if you don’t know which keys to push and which numbers to enter.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It could be worse, Andrew. At least you are not doing dental work…

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Beth Pine says:

    Having been married to a builder and hearing the swear words when the measure twice advice doesn’t work, I loved this post!!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Making my head spin

    Liked by 2 people

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