Measurements: Always the Master?

10 Dec

Measuring woodOkay, we all know as woodworkers that measuring is part and parcel of our trade; we have to measure lumber in order to get things to fit. But is measuring a severe master that must be always obeyed?

Obviously, some measurements must be strict; a door has to fit into a cabinet, for example, and has an 1/8″ gap – that you have to measure carefully.

But how about when you screw up? Maybe that top of a table that your plans called for was to be 1″ thick. You plane the pieces down to…OOPS! 15/16″! I know that I (and I’m sure, some of you guys) would go mental and toss that wood aside and starts on new pieces, because, dang it, that’s what the plans called for! Besides that, the length of the boards were supposed to be 6′, and you screwed that up too, and cut them to 5′ 11 1/2″ ! Obviously, you need to pay more attention to your measuring. But my point is, does it matter? I’ve come to the conclusion, that in many cases, no, it doesn’t. Nobody is going to notice that your table is a freakin’ 1/16″ thinner than it should be – unless you have some psycho customer who will go over your piece with a fine tooth comb. That’s up to you to find out.

As for me, I’ve learned that measurements aren’t always king – that aesthetics and function are; obviously, a door has to be perfectly rectangular, or one side the top of a clock the same as the other, but you don’t have to sweat small, almost imperceptible measurements. Sweat tight joints, if you want to sweat something – but not a table top being 1/16″ less than plans called for. Don’t get me wrong – you always want to follow plans as precisely as possible, because what you think a mis-measurement of 1/16″ won’t matter, sometimes, down the road in the construction of the project, it will – and then you’ll have to get really creative; but many times a little screw up is not such a big deal.


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Posted by on December 10, 2012 in BlogNotes


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