In another thread, some members expressed curiosity and lack of understanding as to why someone in the USA would want to buy or make items based on the 'Metric' system of measurements. I felt it best to share the reasons that I not only want to, but do embrace the craft using both systems.
For the benefit of those not familiar with the International System of Units, which is abbreviated SI, Wikipedia has an excellent article on the topic here
. This article does a lot better job of explaining why nearly every industrialized nation on the planet except the USA has adopted the SI as their 'default standard'. I do not have the time, energy or inclination to 'convert the masses' to the SI.
It would also be fair to say that on a philosophical level, my personality is inclined to embrace alternative methods and languages far more than it is to reject them. Some minds approach an issue with a 'why' attitude while others take a 'why not' attitude to the same question.
In my mind, the question is why not, and the glass is half full...
That being said, the fact that I haven't won the lottery yet does come into play, and the main reason not to buy imperial and metric versions of every tool I have is cold, hard cash!
While I certainly could take the position of excluding everything metric, there are compelling reasons for me to rise to the challenge and broaden my approach to the craft.
- Material costs are lower in some cases,
- The math is easier to do in my head.
- A growing number of people I exchange plans and ideas with are in Commonwealth nations, already adapted to the SI.
I live in Washington State, midway between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. As such, the 'big box' stores in my area sell a considerable amount of material imported from Canada. A good portion of that material has been milled to metric dimensions.
Cutting 3/16" dado to join with a 5mm ply shelf worked with the help of a specialty plane, but not nearly as well as cutting a 5mm dado does!.
On the simplicity of math topic, dividing whole numbers is easier than dividing and converting fractional numbers. I do an increasing amount of lap and match joinery, experimenting as I work through ideas. Calculating what a third of some fractional value is for a tongue and groove set gets a little cumbersome. That being said, it still isn't that big of an issue to work through, Excel and Visio tear that sort of thing up.
Collaboration with others is a vital part of my learning how to become the craftsman I have always wanted to be. The more adept I become at thinking and crafting with SI based plans and tools, the more benefit I receive from the global community of woodworkers that the internet puts me in contact with.