(In)Accurate Measurements

(In)Accurate Measurements

In last week’s issue, Rob shared a story titled “The One-Inch Uh-Oh!” I think most woodworkers know exactly what that means … as illustrated by these responses. – Editor

“I’m no stranger to this issue. It got to the point that I made the mistake every time I went for the extra accuracy. My solution was to disregard my middle school shop teacher’s advice; this sometimes made my measurements almost one inch more accurate. I usually had a bigwig observing my moment of realization, too. Fortunately for me, she is extremely compassionate and coddled me through each repair.” – Jeff Dropp

“Been there. Done that. Have regrets. I’m building a sideboard for my dining room. The structure that holds the cabinets and drawers is built like a pair of goalposts. The cabinet carcass was ¼-inch too wide to fit. I cut the crossbars on the goalposts, inserted pieces of ebony which were used to accent the accompanying dining room table, and added interior supports screwed to the crosspieces.” – Alan Gesler

“I liked the 1-inch-off cabinet story. I once marked a 20-foot piece of oak molding to 11-foot-something using the only ruler I had at the time, a 6-ft. folding stick ruler. So I measured 6 feet and then the 5 feet-something. When I went to cut it (you can guess), I cut it at the 6-foot mark by mistake. After giving vent to my emotions, I bought another piece and repeated the process. Before I could cut it, the doorbell rang, and I bought some Girl Scout cookies. I then proceeded to cut it at the 6-foot mark again. Finally, I bought a tape measure at the same time as I bought my third piece. And had to bear the lumberyard telling me that they were really cheaper if I bought in bulk! (And I still won’t buy Girl Scout cookies.)” – Richard Palluzi

Some also offered the requisite unsolicited advice. – Editor

“What’s life without a little aww-sh-oot now and then? It’s what keeps us on our toes and makes us better woodworkers. That said, when you want a more accurate measurement, it is often better to start at the one-inch mark and avoid any problems that may be caused by the sliding tab at the end of the tape measure. But you do have to remember you did that! Just sit back and have another beer, or whatever your beverage of choice is, and move on. It’s life!” – Bob Hoyle

“I understand the tendency toward anal-retentiveness and have had similar experiences. Next time, just use the full length of the tape; if there is a small gap at installation, some suitably chosen trim (such as quarter-round) can be used to cover it. Or you could go old-school and use a folding rule with a sliding extension for inside measurements. Or use a really old-school story stick. Oh, and did you measure twice? LOL…” – Brian Leavy

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