Fear of the Metric System

First, Some Kudos

“Thank you for giving me something else to look forward to while waiting for my next Woodworker’s Journal [the print magazine]. With lots of great tips and articles I get my much needed woodworking ‘fix'” Rick Harris

“Talk about absolutely perfect timing! The very night I received eZine 117 I needed to lay out a 21- piece project on two sheets of birch plywood. In the eZine was the link to the free Windows cut list program. I downloaded and played with it for about an hour, and I had my cut list! Thank you very much.” – Michael J. Schreck

“I just wanted to take a moment to say that I was truly impressed with Mr. Darby’s cut list program. This one had zero learning curve and fits my needs perfectly. Thanks again.” – Mike McCoy

How Did She Do It?

Robert Hastings wanted to know “How in the world did Alice Porembski turn down the corners of the table shown in the Today’s Woodworker section of issue 116?” Alice replied: “Think sculpture and hand tools. They are not bent, but sculpted and shaped.”

Lost Plans

A faithful reader named Bob lost all his saved plans during a computer crash, and advises you all to back up your computers. Sadly, not all are recoverable. For an explanation, try this link: FreePlans FAQ at http://www.woodworkersjournal.com/free-plans-faq/, which says, in part:

“The free plans are updated approximately every two weeks. By the time you receive the e-mail notifying you of the currently available plans, the plans described in any previous e-mails you have received are no longer available on the web. Because the free plans are available only for a limited time, please be sure to download them in a timely manner.”

Oh, and be sure to back up those downloaded plans, too.

Metric Menace

A question in the last issue asked why dimensions were always in messy fractions. Metric was suggested as a good measuring system for those who dislike fractions. That spawned an outpouring of opinion on both fractions and the metric system. At the top of the heap came this tirade from someone who apparently equates metric measurement with un-American activities.

“The reason those plans are in fractions is because this is America. Foreigners and laboratories use metric. Sorry about the twelve of you foreigners out there listening in. This is America. We were born fractional and will stay that way, thank you. Every day we are asked to give something up because of the foreigners. They will have to pry my fractional scale from my cold dead fingers!” – T. J. Houchins

Interesting opinion, but most of us woodworkers are far more affectionate toward our overseas friends. In fact, most of us are descended from transplanted foreigners ourselves. Beyond that, there is the small matter that the common fractional system we use here is hardly American. It is called the English system, because we inherited it from a bunch of those aforementioned foreigners from jolly old England. What made this letter particularly odd was that it was signed by a person who apparently works as a technical support trainer in software technology.With my tongue firmly in cheek as well, I must note that, unless I am badly mistaken, America was not born into software systems either. Fortunately, some cooler heads also shared opinions. Here’s one that feels differently.

“There’s less math calculation and easier figuring with metric. I’ve known this for over 40 years, being a chemist and growing up in the metric system in school when dealing in the sciences. Heaven knows why the U.S. is one of the few countries left in the world stuck with the English system of inches and feet. Very cumbersome.” – Craig Erickson

But Was That the Real Question?

Some felt the question of fractions was misunderstood, including Craig, whose metric comments are above. He said:

“I think Carol Reed missed the point of this question. It sounded like the questioner was wondering why so many measurements in project plans end in fractions. That’s a good question. I suppose if the designer had a goal of fewer fractional measurements, they could do so. However, if the exterior dimensions of a project were designed to end in round numbers of inches, the interior dimensions would often wind up in fractions because most lumber is fractional. Apparently many designers don’t worry about the fractions, they just design the piece to be a useful size and let the dimensions fall where they may.”

Another writer agreed, adding: “Carol Reed responded to a valid question and gave a good answer to same, but not to the question asked. Plan dimensions are in fractions because material is in fractions. Wood, plywood, etc. is fractional in dimension.” – Charles Israel

Pretty in Pink

The two sections from last issue’s Websurfer’s Review both dealt with the color pink, and spawned these comments.

“I totally loved the ‘What’s wrong with this picture.’ A nice piece to have included. Thanks.” – LLJ

You’re totally welcome. – Editor

“I started searching the Internet for pink tool belts after my wife expressed interest in having a tool belt. I ordered the pink tool belt for her for Valentine’s, and she is going to love it!” Jeremy Monroe

“Liked the article. For what it’s worth, the welding supply industry has been carrying women’s sizes in safety apparel for a number of years. Can’t say if available in pink, but definitely lady’s sizes. I used to be in that industry.” Ron Cox

A Rose by Any Other Name….

“I was a bit surprised at your explanation of ‘scary sharp.’ The vernacular for sharpness has always been ‘razor sharp.’ ‘Scary sharp’ has replaced the term razor sharp. ‘Scary sharp’ is the result achieved. The method of being done on a glass lapping plate with sandpaper or on stones has nothing to do with ‘Scary Sharp.'” Tom Chekouras

I’ll have to disagree here, Tom. In fact, the term grew out of an article in another woodworking magazine describing the author’s sharpening method using sandpaper and glass instead of stones. The article was titled “Scary Sharp” after a comment the author made describing his results. Henceforth, people started using the term “scary sharp” to mean the method described in that article, as well as to reference the article itself. I suspect the term will eventually fall by the wayside. After all, sharp is sharp, no matter how you achieve it. 

A Coke….

“If Coke could truly remove rust, what would it do to your stomach?” Eddie

Nothing, actually. There’s no question that acid can attack rust. Naval Jelly, a thickened acid, is sold as a common rust removal product. Coke is acidic, it is true, but your stomach also contains acid, which it uses to digest food. I think the point was not whether Coke was acidic, which it is, but whether there are better things than Coke for that particular job. Coke also contains sugar, which can leave surfaces sticky, (and stomachs larger). Read on.

“Lose the Coke, because it’s just going to make a sticky mess. I use a system called TopSaver. It removes the rust with ease.” – Aaron Cantor

“Just watched ‘MythBusters’ on TV. The only thing that Coke successfully did was clean the front bumper of an old truck and remove some rust. So it may work, but I do think that WD-40 would work better.” – Cheryl Dreiman

“I have found that WD-40® and Scotch-Brite® or bronze wool is fantastic when I need to clean my old framing square or table saw top.” – Jack Seibel

And a Smile.

Sometimes, an honest spelling error can be rather humorous. This is the first sentence of a question that came into my email box today. I thought you would get a kick out of it. 

“I have a pair of Caucasian walnut dressers that were stored while my new home was being finished.”

I suppose this could mean it is “white” wood, but I’m pretty sure the writer meant to say “Circassian Walnut,” which is a species of European walnut (Juglans regia) also variously called French Walnut and English Walnut.

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