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post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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I mostly use small metric distances such as with spark plug threads or maybe bullet diameters as in reloading etc. but I've noticed most often in measurements of wood projects on the forum the distance from A to B is always, or nearly always, in mm. Example - 450 mm, 1,340 mm etc. Why isn't cm or dm used more? Is there a number at some point where changing to the larger scale is the correct metric etiquette?
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post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 10:43 AM
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And that, Robert, is the 1000mm question! Exactly why I hate metric. It's not intuitive. Unless someone knows precisely what you're referring to, they can't instantly picture the conditions.
When someone says 'three feet' there is NO doubt as to the reality. It isn't three inches and it certainly isn't three yards. The descriptive suffix instantly identifies the real world condition. Mind you, if one were presented with inches in a mile, few would recognize the relationship, but if you say "a mile" pretty much everyone (this side of the pond) can picture what you're referring to.
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post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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And that, Robert, is the 1000mm question! Exactly why I hate metric. It's not intuitive. Unless someone knows precisely what you're referring to, they can't instantly picture the conditions.
When someone says 'three feet' there is NO doubt as to the reality. It isn't three inches and it certainly isn't three yards. The descriptive suffix instantly identifies the real world condition. Mind you, if one were presented with inches in a mile, few would recognize the relationship, but if you say "a mile" pretty much everyone (this side of the pond) can picture what you're referring to.
************************************************** *
Maybe I get a prize for the 1000mm question. Well I suppose not because that wasn't exactly the one thousandth question.

But I do know what a meter stick is because back in the good old days we had a mean old teacher that had one to whack us with when we gave the wrong answer in grade school. It was bigger and thicker than those give away yard sticks from the lumber yard and hurt worse.
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post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 12:26 PM
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Robert, I regularly use both the Imperial (a.k.a. Fractional) System and the Metric System. I embrace both systems, but in my years of observing; I've noticed some things are slowly changing. English is slowly becoming the language of choice and metric is becoming the measurement system of choice. This is not just my opinion - it is a statistical fact. Some people adapt easier to this transition more readily. As to your first question: it is simply a matter of preference, some people will tell you they are 72" tall - while an identical twin may say he or she is six feet tall. Both are correct and neither is wrong - it is simply a matter of how they are presenting the information.

This same correlation also can apply to metric...450mm is no more wrong or right than saying 45cm - it is just preference. I do engineering and product development and although I am in the (slow) process of retiring - I still deal with people worldwide using both systems. With metric, I often see an avoidance of decimals - which would mean that most of the time someone will use a number without decimals. As an example, in my experience it has been rare to see a number expressed as 23.7cm; but rather this number would usually have been expressed as 237mm (same distance, no decimals).

Where the Metric System outshines the Imperial System is in conversion from one type of measure to another. There is no easy conversion of inches or feet to pounds or gallons - there simply is no common denominator! With Metric, a cubic centimeter = 1 gram (of water). 1,000 cubic centimeters = 1 liter. 1 liter of water weighs 1 kilogram. There simply is not a direct way to use an integer to convert feet to pounds to quarts.

People that are raised-up using the metric system often take it for granted that these conversions are easy and direct! Often when this subject comes-up I tell people, "I was born Metric!" I really get some strange looks, and then follow-up by saying, "10 fingers & 10 toes". Some of the others still do not immediately follow this line-of-thought until I ask if they have 12 fingers or 16 toes?

Admittedly, change is inconvenient for everyone. I will probably still always have to do quick math to provide metric answers to random questions - but in my business, if the customer wants metric - that is what they get - and I am good with that!

I hope this helps! Take care!

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post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by SandburRanch View Post
I mostly use small metric distances such as with spark plug threads or maybe bullet diameters as in reloading etc. but I've noticed most often in measurements of wood projects on the forum the distance from A to B is always, or nearly always, in mm. Example - 450 mm, 1,340 mm etc. Why isn't cm or dm used more? Is there a number at some point where changing to the larger scale is the correct metric etiquette?
Hi Robert

There is an accepted convention in this country (and as far as I'm aware in the rest of the EU) that architects/town planners always express dimensions in units with a 10 to the power three relationship. That means that town plans are expressed in kilometres, building plans in metres and smaller components in mm (each of those measures is 1/1000 the size of the next largest). Every metric plan or drawing I've seen has followed this convention. Using decimetres or centimetrse isn't necessarily wrong, it's just that they are used much less (in fact in 40 plus years of using metric I've never seen dm expressed anywhere). If you think about it a lot of woodworking is direcly or indirectly associated with architecture and buildings so it makes sense (to me) to follow the same conventions. There is an additional advantage - if you are talking with an architect or another tradesman and you say that something is 2300 long (i.e. 2.3 metres, or about 7-1/2 feet in old money) - it's pretty obvious what you are using as dimensions.

BTW where wifey works they insist on using cm. Drives me nuts as they can and do get dimensions wrong at times - then wonder why

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Phil

Last edited by Phil P; 07-05-2012 at 12:42 PM.
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post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 12:44 PM
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Some of the others still do not immediately follow this line-of-thought until I ask if they have 12 fingers or 16 toes?
Be careful, there, Otis! In some neighbourhoods that's the norm! :

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post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 05:12 PM
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As Otis said no set rule for what is used. Here in Australia Chippies (carpenters) use meters, .3 meters for 300mm .5 meters for 500mm) and so on while cabinet makers use mm.

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post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by DaninVan View Post
And that, Robert, is the 1000mm question! Exactly why I hate metric. It's not intuitive. Unless someone knows precisely what you're referring to, they can't instantly picture the conditions.
When someone says 'three feet' there is NO doubt as to the reality. It isn't three inches and it certainly isn't three yards. The descriptive suffix instantly identifies the real world condition. Mind you, if one were presented with inches in a mile, few would recognize the relationship, but if you say "a mile" pretty much everyone (this side of the pond) can picture what you're referring to.
Much of the time, the meaning of what we say depends on the circumstances present when we say it. Metric, or any measure, is no different. 99% of the time, the person you are talking to would understand what you meant because of the circumstances in which in was used. One of the problems we have in Canada is that all the materials we build with are still imperial in size. We don't really build up a familiarity of metric dimensions because of that. If all the building materials were metric sized and your tapes showed only metric measure you would get onto quickly enough.

Metric is still a far superior measuring system compared to imperial. If in doubt try splitting 13/16 into 3 equal parts.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 06:28 PM
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A fat 1/4, Charles.
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post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 06:31 PM
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A fat 1/4, Charles.

= 7mm........

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