Author Topic: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?  (Read 4044 times)

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Offline johnbro

  • Posts: 124
Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« on: January 30, 2017, 05:07 PM »
I'm in the middle of building drawers for a shop cab. Three bays of three drawers each; after the first bay I decided to do everything in metric instead of imperial. Wow, what a difference! So much easier to do the math, and with the dual scale on my TS and a decent metric folding ruler someone gave me years ago, it's a snap to work.

However, it caused me to reflect on how many imperial tools I have that I rely on (like my Starrett 6 inch ruler). I'd hate to replace all of them but I'm seriously considering making the switch permanent.

Who's tried and succeeded? Who's tried and gone back to Imperial.

No point asking who from a modern country has ever switched from metric to imperial; what would be the point?

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Offline Sparktrician

  • Posts: 3250
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2017, 05:39 PM »
I prefer the metric system because the math is easier.  That said, if I'm working on something that was made using metric, I stay with metric; if it was built using Imperial, I'll stick with Imperial. 
- Willy -

 "Remember, a chip on the shoulder is a sure sign of wood higher up." - Brigham Young

Offline IndyWoodworker

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Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2017, 05:48 PM »
Switching to metric for me was fairly straight forward. It can be as simple as using scales and tape measures that show both imperial and metric units.  I use a Metric/Standard tape available from www.fastcap.com.  The same is true for scales that I purchase.  The other reason I moved to the metric system in woodworking as I passed 40 years of age, those 16th of inch increments were beginning to be difficult to read even with my bifocals.  Millimeters are much easier to see. 

Yes, most furniture plans are in imperial units, that is why I have the dual scales.  Once you start down the metric path it becomes easier. A suggestion is not to do too many conversions in your head.  Simple conversions as 25 millimeters per inch is a good standard to use.  Good luck in converting to metric, it is relatively easy, just give it a try.

Offline Poindexter

  • Posts: 98
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2017, 06:04 PM »
Love metric!  Wish we would have adopted it in the US.

Also developing a growing and growing deeper and deeper appreciation for the way Europeans approach woodworking.  All the way from felling to assembling.  As one who mills his own lumber Pfanner safety equipment is excellent, Stihl & Husqvarna are the saws and hooks to get, Gransfors Bruks are pretty decent... while American green (AKA John Deere) doesn't suck too bad for helping to move stuff around.  American sawmills aren't too shabby either.  But give me some F's from Europe back in the shop:  Felder & Festool!

Offline Paul G

  • Posts: 1812
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2017, 06:22 PM »
In a perfect world I'd choose metric but I pretty much hate constantly converting so I stick with Imperial. One trip to Lowes or HD well illustrates the dilemma, not to mention the building codes and laws here are mostly in Imperial.
+1

Offline amt

  • Posts: 339
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2017, 06:47 PM »
I started adopting metric when I got my first Festool, the TS55.  I sometimes fall back to imperial out of habit.  The hardest part for me is just being familiar with "standard lengths" like a 36 inch counter height, 30 inch table height, etc.

I have invested in mostly metric version tools, including Festool and Incra.  One recent challenge was preparing templating for my router.  I wanted to get the offset between the router bit and the guide bushing in whole or 1/2 mm size.  Both the guide bushings and the router bits are not common at all in metric in the USA.  I got the guide bushing set from Axminster and I have not yet purchased the router bits, but will most likely get some Trend bits.

Offline pixelated

  • Posts: 48
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2017, 09:19 PM »
I use both kind of interchangeably depending on the particular need but prefer metric. I'll often do major dimensions in feet/inches, like 24 inches, especially if I have to match something to some "standard" dimension, then do all the detail measuring in metric.
I despise trying to count 16ths of an inch or figuring out what the mark past 3/4's is, not to mention the hassle around adding or subtracting different fractions. A Calculated Industries builder's calculator helps a lot if you need convert on a routine basis (also helps for adding those fractions). For measuring I have a Stanley metric tape, but my favorite is a carpenter's folding rule I picked up on a business trip in Germany, I don't know the maker. I also have various metric and metric/English rules.

Unfortunately, my saw is an HK which is only sold in imperial in N.A., one of these days I'm going to call Festool and see about getting a metric scale for it.

Offline McNally Family

  • Posts: 351
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Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2017, 12:46 AM »
I'm in the middle of building drawers for a shop cab. Three bays of three drawers each; after the first bay I decided to do everything in metric instead of imperial. Wow, what a difference! So much easier to do the math, and with the dual scale on my TS and a decent metric folding ruler someone gave me years ago, it's a snap to work.

However, it caused me to reflect on how many imperial tools I have that I rely on (like my Starrett 6 inch ruler). I'd hate to replace all of them but I'm seriously considering making the switch permanent.

Who's tried and succeeded? Who's tried and gone back to Imperial.

No point asking who from a modern country has ever switched from metric to imperial; what would be the point?


Everything I purchase now is in Metric.  I grew up with Imperial, so I can fall back on that antiquated system if needed.   And yes, there is a learning curve with the switch, but over time it starts to become second nature. 

My Dad was an engineer (research and development), and lived in the Metric world.  His patents from 30-40 years ago were all submitted in Metric so I guess you could say the United States is converting, slowly....

Of course, Festool is going the opposite direction, probably due to the US construction industry, and the desire to increase their presence in that market.  Fortunately, for those of us who prefer Metric, there are other companies that still adhere to the Metric system in their tool designs (Example; Mafell). 

Festool has only converted a small portion of their product line to Imperial, so if you act fast, certain tools are still available in Metric (such as the Festool 2200 Router, or as I like to call it, "my next purchase"). 
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 04:48 PM by McNally Family »
GREEN: In order of purchase = C18 5.2 Set w/Centrotec Installer's Set | CT26 w/Installer Cleaning Set | CT Wings | SYS-MFT | RS 2 E | Hose w/ Sleeve 3.5m | metric+imperial ZOBO bit sets | Centrotec Stubby Brad Point Bit Set 3-8mm |  HSS D3-10 CE/10x Metric Twist Drill Bit Set | 115mm X 226mm Hand Sanding Block | 80mm X 133mm Hand Sanding Block | HSK D21.5 5m hose | CT Boom Arm Bundle Set |  Won the CXS Li 2.6 90 Limited Edition on 06/20/2016 | Metric Parallel Guide Set | 1080 Plate for custom MFT | Clamping ElemenTS (1) | Quick Clamps For MFT (2) | Festool 300mm Screw Clamps set (1) | Festool 120mm Screw Clamps set (1) | Next  Purchase: Something else Metric |

RED: In order of purchase = Mafell P1cc w/tilting base | Complete range of Mafell blades | Collins Coping Foot |  F 160 (x1)+F 110 (x1)+F 80 (x1) w/Guide pocket, clamps & Connector (x1)  | Angle fence F-WA | Next Purchase :  TBD

Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 58
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2017, 07:54 AM »
After roughly 50 years of woodworking in Imperial and using tools mostly referenced to Imperial that is my mainstay...since I acquired a Kapex 120 with UG stand and wings I have acquired the habit of dividing my target length by 0.03937 to obtain a setting for the UG stops.

Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 356
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2017, 07:56 AM »
I switch back and forth all the time, but I still visualize imperial.  I'm working on visualizing metric distances so that they feel more intuitive.  I still have to -think- that 100mm is roughly 4", 300mm is just less than 1', and 900mm is just enough less than 3' to be irritating.  On the small side, 1mm is more than 1/32", 12mm is less than 1/2" but 13mm is more, and I always have to think about whether 16mm is less than or greater than 5/8".  Exactly how wide is my Pfeil 16mm chisel again?  That's just for examples.

My metric education started in Ecuador where I did some woodworking training.  I went to a lot of work to do casework plans in metric, then got to Ecuador and found that the guys I was training were multi-lingual in imperial and metric, but had mostly imperial rules and tapes.  I got my first metric tape in Ecuador - it has the Stanley name on it, but might be a knockoff, as the Stanley planes definitely were (my first clue was that the lateral adjustment lever was cast into the plane body).  I still have the tape.

From a practical point of view, despite how you work, you have to talk imperial in the US.  You can't go to a client and say that a cabinet will project 600mm from the wall, or that it will be 800mm tall.  Most people won't be able to visualize it.  So despite the fact that metric math is way more intuitive than imperial (i.e. binary-converted-to-decimal for distances less than an inch and a weird decimal/duodecimal hybrid for distances greater than an inch), imperial is still necessary in some places - not because people find the math easier, but because it's what they can visualize.  And at the end of the day, I still have to break down a 4'x8' sheet into pieces parts, even if all of my project measurements are metric.

But while we're on the subject, I get 20mm holes in the MFT top, but what's with putting the holes 96mm on center?  That makes the math easy - not!  Is it related somehow to the 32mm standard for cabinet hardware (which doesn't really seem intuitive either)?  I'm thinking that you can give people a perfectly good metric system and they can still make things harder than they need to be.

At any rate, the point is that the ease of math is not the point.  It's the fact that imperial is so embedded in US society that, with the exception of people who have certain kinds of technical or scientific training or were raised elsewhere, people in the US intuitively visualize the distances of imperial measurements, but have to do mental arithmetic (dividing by 0.03937?) to visualize the distances for metric measurements.

So for others raised with imperial measurements, I'd ask the question of this topic a bit differently.  Have you learned to visualize in metric?  How did you have to change the way you think to do it?

« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 08:10 AM by HarveyWildes »

Offline ben_r_

  • Posts: 341
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2017, 11:45 AM »
Metric is definitely easier, but I have WAY too much money in imperial marked tools (Starrett, Woodpeckers, tape measures, rulers, etc) to switch now. And all my Festool tools are in Imperial too. Well those that are currently offered that is.
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Offline jobsworth

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Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2017, 12:55 PM »
Ive been making the switch to metric. I really like it. But Im still refering to the imperial system. Its a slow transition for me. All the festools Ive bought have been metric. I do own tape measures with both metric and imperial.
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Offline Ross 71

  • Posts: 39
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2017, 09:24 PM »
In Britain we have been metricked since 1970. I was born in 71, but most schoolbooks were still in imperial. It is only recently that woodplans in magazines are only metric dimensions. EVERYONE over 30 visualises in imperial. No-one knows their weight in kilos- it is meaningless. All road distances and speeds are in miles because  kilometres mean absolutely nothing to anyone, anywhere. Everyone has to convert liters to pints or gallons to get any sense of scale.

It seems that in the US you buy a 2x4 and it is 1 1/2" x 3 1/2", wherever you buy it. Here it might be 47mm x 97mm,  or 47x94, or 45 x 97 or 95 or whatever seems like a good idea at the mill on the day. In imperial days, up until about 1990 a 2x4 was finished to 1 3/4" x 3 3/4". 

If you need a tool and don't buy it, You will ultimately find that you have paid for it but don't have it- Henry Ford

Offline Gwerner

  • Posts: 224
  • They call me George...
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2017, 01:43 AM »
I build in metric but still visualize in imperial. Haven't quite gotten to the point of looking at an 8 foot span of cabinets and visualizing it as 2438.4 mm....

Online Untidy Shop

  • Posts: 2430
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2017, 02:08 AM »
I build in metric but still visualize in imperial. Haven't quite gotten to the point of looking at an 8 foot span of cabinets and visualizing it as 2438.4 mm....
@Gwerner
Anyone fully working in a metric environment would have the same problem visualising 2438.4mm. It is easier for us to visualise 2400mm or 2.4 metres. Which incidentally is one of the standard sheet and timber lengths.

The difficulty you face is acomidating metric to an imperial environment where that  8ft cabinet is going to be 8ft. In a house constructed to metric standards the measurement of that cabinet is going to be exactly 2400mm;  not 2438.4mm.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 02:17 AM by Untidy Shop »
If you don't like Signatures, just go to Look and Layout and tick No Signatures.

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”
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Offline Gwerner

  • Posts: 224
  • They call me George...
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2017, 02:17 AM »
I build in metric but still visualize in imperial. Haven't quite gotten to the point of looking at an 8 foot span of cabinets and visualizing it as 2438.4 mm....
@Gwerner
Anyone fully working in a metric environment would have the same problem visualising 2438.4mm. It is easier for us to visualise 2400mm or 2.4 metres. Which incidentally is one of the standard sheet and timber lengths.

The difficulty you face is acomidating metric to an imperial environment. That 8ft cabinet is going to be 8ft. In a house constructed to metric standards the measurement that cabinet is going to be exactly 2400mm.

@Untidy Shop I hear you, and you're absolutely right. I don't think I articulated it correctly, but I'm with you. When I'm planning something for the house, I'll think about it (and explain it to the wife) in terms of 8 ft, but when I build it I will actually go with the 2400 mm as my finished dimensions. Obviously not the ideal way of doing things, but I'm getting there.

Online Untidy Shop

  • Posts: 2430
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2017, 05:31 AM »
@Gwerner
Yes its really a matter of practice or some experience - metric or imperial. Because I often work in a timberyard, I estimate longer lengths by my height. Because I am approx 6ft, that's 1800mm, so 2700mm is above my head, 3000 and 3600 really above my head. Then 4200 and 4800mm are OK even at horizontal. But 5400 and 6000mm that can be confusing, especially if the customer has already loaded it themselves. Out comes the tape measure!  [big grin]
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 05:35 AM by Untidy Shop »
If you don't like Signatures, just go to Look and Layout and tick No Signatures.

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Offline Holmz

  • Posts: 3393
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2017, 06:50 AM »
@johnbro beaver on friend. The yard is like meter with 10% off.
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Offline Marty Schlosser

  • Posts: 28
  • Retired Furniture Designer and Maker
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2017, 08:50 AM »
Here in Canada we measure road distance in kilometers and have been doing so exclusively for at least the past 40 years. 

The same goes with liquid measurements, where we use the litre; they're our reference, not pints or gallons.

So clearly your comment is incorrect.

Just as an aside, the older I get and the more experience I have in life and through travelling abroad, the less I use the word "absolutely".

 
All road distances and speeds are in miles because  kilometres mean absolutely nothing to anyone, anywhere. Everyone has to convert liters to pints or gallons to get any sense of scale.
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Offline leakyroof

  • Posts: 1806
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2017, 11:24 AM »
I hate it... It makes my Math and measurements too easy...  MATH should not be easy, it's a universally accepted fact.... [poke]
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Offline fritter63

  • Posts: 1315
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2017, 11:28 AM »
Yes, I too have switched because the math is easier at my age! Fewer mistakes by far. Still have to jump back and forth though...
getting ready to convert my Incra TS fence to metric.

For conversions, I use both Fastcap dual tape, and I have an app on my iPhone called "allRPNCalc" which is basically an HP calc simulator and has a conversion mode where you can set the units for both sides and do a quick conversion.

Offline kcufstoidi

  • Posts: 698
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2017, 12:22 PM »
Like Marty said Canada switched to metric about 40 years ago. I was taught in imperial and still use it today, the funny part is I honestly don't know anyone that works the trades that uses metric and most materials related to woodworking are sold in imperial. All building projects in NA big or small are metric measurements that have been converted from imperial so some of the arguments that its easier to work in 10's don't hold much water. In all honesty if you have any math skills its all just marks on a stick and both work extremely well dependent on the given project.

John

Offline fritter63

  • Posts: 1315
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2017, 05:16 PM »
arguments that its easier to work in 10's don't hold much water. In all honesty if you have any math skills its all just marks on a stick and both work extremely well dependent on the given project.


Now, THAT is funny.

Let's see, math skills.... I earned the "Bank of America Outstanding Math Achievement" award in High School. My SAT math component was in the top 2% of the U.S. Add 4 quarters of calculus in college, plus a minor in Statistics. I think I have math skills.

And still, working in metric and all one unit (mm) is far easier than dealing with fractions and inches.

Maybe if you just work with story sticks and somebody else does the hard work for you... ;-)

Offline kcufstoidi

  • Posts: 698
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2017, 07:31 PM »
arguments that its easier to work in 10's don't hold much water. In all honesty if you have any math skills its all just marks on a stick and both work extremely well dependent on the given project.


Now, THAT is funny.

Let's see, math skills.... I earned the "Bank of America Outstanding Math Achievement" award in High School. My SAT math component was in the top 2% of the U.S. Add 4 quarters of calculus in college, plus a minor in Statistics. I think I have math skills.

And still, working in metric and all one unit (mm) is far easier than dealing with fractions and inches.

Maybe if you just work with story sticks and somebody else does the hard work for you... ;-)

Interesting but in both worlds you are still dealing in fractions, 12" / 3" is 4" , 10mm / 3mm is 3 1/3mm, 10mm / 4mm is 2 1/2mm just 2 very common examples but maybe you get the point of real world examples. I wasn't referring to story sticks which are also marks on a stick extremely useful when used properly. I was referring to those magical devices called rulers, marked in imperial or metric, which at the very simplest form are marks on a stick. Sorry I only have grade 10 math and worked in the trades for the last 45 years. I do all the hard math without a calculator mostly in my head...;)

John

Offline rst

  • Posts: 1331
Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2017, 08:46 AM »
Once I started buying Festool I began to use metric.  It is sooo much easier to do layout work.  That being said I use both depending on the job at hand.  I use construction master calculaters, desk and hand, and have a conversion app on my Droid.  All the Woodpeckers tools I have bought are metric and am about to convert my Incra LS positioner.  I use metric for my milling machine and my micrometers.  When I'm doing construction, mostly entrance replacements and automatic door installation, it's imperial. 

Online Untidy Shop

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Re: Have you switched to metric? What did you think?
« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2017, 09:19 PM »

Comment on the fact that tyres are still purchased in inches in Australia, despite we being a metric country.
If you don't like Signatures, just go to Look and Layout and tick No Signatures.

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values