Metric and Imperial

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in Blog | 3 Comments


Unfortunately I think I can feel a rant coming on! Apologies to my US readers for this but I really find the American use of archaic imperial measurements very strange and currently quite frustrating.

Although I was taught in feet and inches at school for the last 25 years all my woodwork has been done in millimetres. They are just so convenient, no phaffing around with fractions. Surely it’s easier to work to 1mm rather than 1/32″, or to be ,more precise 3/64″. Actually, when I want to be really accurate, I work to 0.5mm, that’s 1/64″. It gets more complicated when you start adding dimensions. 7mm plus 2mm is 9 mm, but what’s 9/32 plus 5/64, 23/64 (I think!). Do you see my point? I think it’s a miracle they landed a man on the moon! (only joking chaps!)

Anyway, the reason for the rant is that I have just spent some time this morning converting mm to inches for the book. The trouble is that it’s not just a matter of conversion; when describing a project (in the cut list for example) the dimensions have to add up in both systems. If I work to 32nds on the conversion I get inconsistencies when adding and converting between the systems. It would be great if one of my American readers, if I haven’t alienated them all already, could advise me to what fraction they usually work to, 32nds or 64ths. Or perhaps a lot of US woodworkers have realised the power of the millimetre and have converted to metric!


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Thankyou, Chris.



  1. Rob Halverson
    12th September 2015

    Sorry I can’t help much. Apparently I’ve been so strongly influenced by a certain Yorkshire furniture maker, I tend to think metric system. If I had to measure and cut something to a 32nd or 64th, my head would likely explode.


    • admin
      13th September 2015

      Hi Rob. Good to hear from you. I’m pleased to hear you are still cleaving to the “old ways”. I hope you are also still drinking Taylor’s Yorkshire Tea, does it taste as good with Colorado water?


      • Rob
        15th September 2015

        I’ve managed to keep the “cuppa rings” off of Benchzilla, but some of the other horizontal surfaces in the shop haven’t fared so well. As long as I use filtered Colorado water, the Taylor’s holds up well.



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