Metric System

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Bob Chapman, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. Bob Chapman

    Bob Chapman

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    81
    Location:
    Bingley, West Yorkshire, England
    Home Page:
    Here in the UK we hear that the USA is deeply embedded in the imperial system and simply will not accept the metric system. I can't help wondering how accurate this perception actually is? I've certainly read articles by American authors who have used metric measurements and it does seem easier to see which is biggest of, say, 8mm or 7.5mm whereas comparing 5/16 in with 19/64 in requires a little more grey matter. So where do American woodturners stand on this issue? Personally I'm not above using both and sometimes mixing them if it's convenient. Is it really the big deal over there that we are told it is over here?

    Bob
     
  2. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2004
    Messages:
    2,542
    Location:
    New Jersey
    No. Except to groups who think Dr. Strangelove and the Flintstones were documentaries, and who will stand and fight to "preserve the purity and essence of our precious natural fluids" from all invaders, whether ferin or de-metric!!!
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014
    Alan Dick likes this.
  3. john lucas

    john lucas

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Messages:
    5,823
    Location:
    Cookeville TN USA
    Some of the really oldtimers still think that way. Myself and many of my machinist friends are very comfortable using both. I think that changed a lot when cars started being manufactured all over the world. Used to be if it was american made it had our measuring system bolts. If it was foriegn made it had metric. As a photographer mixing chemistry I became comfortable with both out of necessity simply because the instructions came one way or the other and you had to adapt. I still use both in woodworking. For example it's very easy to divide 7/16 in half, it's 7/32. It's harder to divide lets say 27mm in half. On the other hand if I measure a board and it's 300mm it's easy to divide that in half. If I have a board that is 11 7/32 that takes some thinking to divide in half. So I use both and try to have scales and rulers that easily adapt to both.
    I still don't totally understand metric machine thread sizes. It's easy for me to understand 1/4" at 20 TPI. Not so sure about 6mm x1m Gotta read more on that I guess. I just pull them out and use them or grab the metric tap or die if needed.
     
  4. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,306
    Location:
    Lakeland, Florida
    Home Page:
    I use both.
    When I give a measurement it is in inches
    When I have to do arithmetic on a measurement I use metric.

    A few of us are old enough to remember that the US adopted the metric system in the late 80s or or early 90s.
    Once all the gas pumps were converted to liters and the oil companies set higher prices we repealed the metric system
    and the oil companies changed all the pumps back to gallons and raising prices yet again.
     
  5. R Henrickson

    R Henrickson

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2010
    Messages:
    88
    Location:
    Kentucky
    The metric system isn't much of controversy here since it is not used in many public applications -- food is weighed in pounds/ounces, liquids measured in pint/quart/gallon, lengths in imperial. Given the degree of globalization, many aspects of life in the US are metric (such as imports from almost anywhere), but that is concealed. Any proposal to move entirely to the metric system raises howls, so it is unlikely to be carried through. Meanwhile, it is actually everywhere. Most packaged food uses both systems. Large bottles of Coke actually are 2 L.

    My life involves both. Daily life in the US is imperial. But my career as a Near Eastern archaeologist over 40 years has been exclusively metric -- I think of the pottery I handle, and dimensions of trenches etc, purely in metric. In the workshop I use either -- certainly metric is easier for splitting measurements.
     
  6. Owen Lowe

    Owen Lowe

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    703
    Location:
    Newberg, OR: 20mi SW of Portland: AAW #21058
    Hmmm, not as I recall. This jibes with what I remember:
    http://www.ebsinstitute.com/OtherActivities/EBS.qs2df2.html

    Being a voluntary conversion, it has yet to be embraced; but then again, it’s only been 40 years. My elementary students measure geometry with both scales. I believe we are becoming somewhat comfortable with metric linear measure and a sorta on the way if you’re talking liters, but very resistant when it comes to temperature.

    I think it should have been a cold-turkey mandatory conversion. That would have saved millions or maybe billions in conversion errors over the decades - not the least of which was the Mars Orbiter failure.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014
  7. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    8,125
    Location:
    Dalworthington Gardens, TX
    Home Page:
    I'm still on furlongs per fortnight which predates any standardized system of measurement. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2004
    Messages:
    2,542
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Bill, that horse died at the second turn . .
     
  9. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    1,531
    Location:
    virginia
    kids today cannot add, subtract, divide, multiply without some type of devise....I need pencil and paper

    metric vs lbs, fluids, etc no way

    how much tea went into boston harbor????????????

    I tend to ignor the metric system if anyway possible.....I do not do any precise work, do not have to, so I don't

    I have great respect for people who use the power of 10......cannot imagine doing anything without 10....100....1000....etc

    never had to drive on the left either

    both good system.....sort of here do it this way, over their do it their way ....sort of king of the hill
     
  10. john lucas

    john lucas

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Messages:
    5,823
    Location:
    Cookeville TN USA
    Well I never have understood using Hands to measure a horse. :) I'm going back to Cubits, especially if it keeps raining as much as it has lately.
     
  11. Sergio Villa

    Sergio Villa

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2013
    Messages:
    269
    Location:
    Ct
    Try to use your foot to measure a horse and you understand why it is measured with hands...
     
    Alan Dick and Dennis J Gooding like this.
  12. W Jack Young

    W Jack Young

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2011
    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    beaverton michigan
    I vote for cubits:D:D
     
  13. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    8,125
    Location:
    Dalworthington Gardens, TX
    Home Page:
    It hasn't been "metric" for over a half century

    The SI units of measure are an internationally agreed upon set of standards. People refer to it as the metric system, but it isn't really. The trouble with "metric" was that there were numerous metric systems that didn't precisely agree. The same problem plagued the English or Imperial set of measurements. The SI system of measurements replaced the definitions of all of them. Many people who say they will never go metric don't realize that they actually already have to a certain extent because Imperial units are now precisely defined in terms of SI units. For example, the inch is now precisely 2.54 centimeters. Once upon a time, it depended on which country's yard and what other country's meter you were talking about and how good were the measuring tools and how many decimal places you were willing to go.

    All US Government agencies and contractors have been 100% converted to SI well before I began my engineering career. Electrical engineers have been metric and SI since the turn of the century ... that would be the previous turn of the century not the recent one. I don't know which specific failure you may be referring to, but stuff fails. NASA projects are designed to be fault tolerant, but stuff happens. Sometimes it is human error. I don't knowq if you are old enough to remember when we were able to successfully soft land a probe on the moon. After a thorough check out to verify that all systems were GO, it was turned off to save battery power. The problem was that EVERYTHING was turned off including the receiver that got the commands to turn back on.

    So, pencil and paper are your "devise"?
     
  14. hu lowery

    hu lowery

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    485
    Location:
    Roseland LA USA
    measurements

    My 'Merican machinery is put together with fasteners that God and Louis Chevrolet meant for us to use. The furrin stuff is metric. My Norton was Whitworth. My rifle cleaning rod is an old British military thread, of which there were many different ones. The only machinery that annoys me is the stuff that bounces around using both metric and fractional inch bolts. For a few years our cars were like that, never knew what a bolt size was going to be. Inch or metric, my eyeballs were pretty well calibrated, mix the two and they didn't work as well.

    Cheap tool sets don't matter much, their wrenches are often the exact same sizes in some nominal sizes. Handy to know that 14mm in a decent tool set is a very tight 9/16 when the 9/16 bolt head is damaged. 13mm and half inch are generally the same tool. 8mm is an inch crossover too I believe, used to know the ones that crossed over all the way up to an inch or a bit bigger but I haven't worked daily with wrenches since the eighties. I used to crossover drill sizes between metric, fractional, letter, and decimal drill bits when I was in a machine shop daily too, now I have to hunt a chart or more likely grab a digital caliper, a wonderful toy that makes the difference between metric and fractional sizes pretty much meaningless.

    There are a lot of times when I would settle for one system, I don't care which one!

    Hu
     
  15. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    1,531
    Location:
    virginia
    our us $$$$ bases on 10, everything else is lbs, feet, etc

    british $$$$$$ not based on 10 (correct me if I am wrong), everything else is based on 10....metric

    strange
     
  16. R Henrickson

    R Henrickson

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2010
    Messages:
    88
    Location:
    Kentucky
    The British pound used to consist of 20 shillings, each of which had 12 pence. Now a pound is 100 pence.
     
  17. Richard Findley

    Richard Findley

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2011
    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Leicester, UK
    When I was preparing to head over to Phoenix to demonstrate at the AAW Symposium, I was very aware of our perception here in the UK that the Americans don't do metric, so I made sure I knew all of my measurements in both 'languages'. I was surprised to find that most of the guys out there at the Symposium seemed perfectly able to operate in mm!

    The funniest thing about all this is that, with the average age of the audience at a woodtuniing demo being 60+ (at a guess) if you start talking in mm at a demo in the UK you are just as likely to draw blank looks. As a demonstrator it is pretty handy to be able to work in both!

    When I was at school we were taught in cm, when I left school it quickly became apparent that the only people that actully use cm are schools teacher! Presumably so they only have to tech up to the 10x table. When I left school to work for my Dad, the first thing I had to do was learn my 12x table, so I could work in feet and inches! Now days, all drawings come through in mm.

    Cheers

    Richard

    PS: The Pound (£) is divided into 10s these days (100 pennies being a pound). I think we dropped the old system in the 70s? but it was before my time so someone else would be able to confirm this.

    PPS:I never have been able to get my head around farenheit, celcius makes far more sense to me - 0 water freezes, 100 it boils. We all know where we stand!
     
  18. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    1,531
    Location:
    virginia
    understandable....I grew up with 32 degrees freezing

    we have hurricans, watch the barometer for weather changes, (I have in the past lived in florida)
    England has always been a seafaring nation, not so much hurricanes, but seafarers
     
  19. Sergio Villa

    Sergio Villa

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2013
    Messages:
    269
    Location:
    Ct
    I grew up with metric. Used them for scientific purposes where it is the standard, and for my woodworking hobby. It works fine. But...when I started to use the imperial I went crazy: fractions, impossible fractions etc but...fractions are good. 12 divided by 3 is four divided by 4 is 3 by 2 is 6 etc. this is the enormous practical and simple advantage of the imperial 12 inches foot. At least in woodworking. Furthermore, everybody can visualize a 1/16 but one millimiter is more difficult, it is too small similar to 1/32 and perhaps useless in many woodworking applications. A pencil mark is about one millimiter so...
    In conclusion, while I think that metric is more accurate and more scientific, imperial is more practical in many non critical situations. Having both systems at the same time must have rounded more nuts than a nutcracker though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2014
  20. Owen Lowe

    Owen Lowe

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    703
    Location:
    Newberg, OR: 20mi SW of Portland: AAW #21058
    Apparently not quite 100% as of the late 1990s:
    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msp98/news/mco991110.html
     

Share This Page