Author Topic: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring  (Read 5625 times)

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Online bwehman

  • Posts: 136
Been in the Festool eco system for several years but finally with the purchase of the parallel guides, of all things, decided to fully commit to metric. I know it shouldn't make a difference in theory, but for some reason I feel like metric necessitates more precision.

That being said, for lengths longer than 12" I've been using a FastCap metric tape measure with a flat tape. Thing is, the measurement can be millimeters off depending on how square the end of the tape measure is on the reference surface, and when I'm trying to nail the position of a domino, it matters.

What is everyone else using? I guess one option is an army of T-squares and rulers?

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Offline woodbutcherbower

  • Posts: 222
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2022, 07:25 PM »
I’ve always felt that for the North American woodworker, being introduced to the metric scale must be like learning a foreign language. For Brits, Europeans and Scandinavians - it’s a common language we all speak. We can easily point out the flaws in the Imperial system - but it’s what you guys have grown up with, it’s what you know, and what you are comfortable with.

The greatest single advantage of metric, however, is its linearity. Everything  - like EVERYTHING -  can be measured in mm rather than yards, feet, inches, halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, thirty-seconds and sixty-fourths. There’s virtually zero math involved when you need to add two bizarre lengths together, for example = for us, it’s just 242 + 147 = 389. The Imperial equivalent of that would inevitably involve a world of fractions. I couldn’t imagine subtracting 4 and 3/8ths from 12 and 17/32nds all day long.

To answer your question = a quality square-ended tape is a must - a good one will give accurate measurements in almost every case. For most applications involving accurate short-scale measurements - high-quality steel rules are your best friend, usually bought over here as a set of four - 1000/600/300/100. Check out the UK Axminster Tools website. There’s some beautiful stuff on there and they ship worldwide.

Oh - and just in case anyone thinks I’m being metrically evangelical - yeah, we’re TOTALLY metric in the UK. Apart from the inconvenient truths that we drink our beer in pints, we measure our fuel consumption in miles per gallon, when asked for directions we say ‘turn right in 100 yards’, our railway track gauge is 4 feet 8.5 inches, we still go into stores and ask for 4 ounces of our favourite candy, we buy pints of milk, we weigh ourselves using stones and pounds, and measure our height in feet and inches.

But an 8’ x 4’ sheet of plywood? NO !! It’s 2440 x 1220mm !!!!

Good luck in your new world.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2022, 07:47 PM by woodbutcherbower »

Offline afish

  • Posts: 1215
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2022, 07:49 PM »
If you do any cabinet work the fastcap tru32 is nice.  I had a matching scale on my table saw too.  I liked both. 

Offline guybo

  • Posts: 326
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2022, 09:32 PM »
Hi, I have one of each of these and 300,600,and 900mm wp rule w/rulestops

Offline rst

  • Posts: 2777
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2022, 10:21 PM »
Like guybo,I have those two tapes.  In addition I use Wiha one and three meter folders and a Tajima combo tape for work.

Online 4nthony

  • Posts: 250
    • Slack for Recon Tools
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2022, 12:34 AM »
That being said, for lengths longer than 12" I've been using a FastCap metric tape measure with a flat tape. Thing is, the measurement can be millimeters off depending on how square the end of the tape measure is on the reference surface, and when I'm trying to nail the position of a domino, it matters.

How are you marking your domino layouts? Are you measuring each side of the mortise independently?

It all depends on your material and what you're building but you should be able to rely on the accuracy of the machine along with a combination of tight and loose mortises to nail pretty much every domino.

Quote
What is everyone else using? I guess one option is an army of T-squares and rulers?

For lengths over 12", I use a 600mm T-square along with a 900mm rule. I've also got a few metric tapes (3m Hultafors and a couple yellow FastCaps) that come in handy.

I've recently switched to metric and my main problem is that I still think in imperial for some lengths.  Having measuring and layout tools that have both metric and imperial is a nice convenience.

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Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 3754
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2022, 12:54 AM »
I keep a FastCap tape measure in each of my 3 shop areas. Each unit has both Imperial and metric scales. I’m kind of ambidextrous re Imperial and metric. I use both although I usually think in Imperial.

For tight measurements, I use either Starrett or Woodpecker rules and squares. Have them in each system.

With Dominos, I just use pencil marks and the narrow to wide technique. My pencil marks are usually made on blue tape and not the wood. It’s easier to peal off the tape than erase the lead.

I am a heavy user of story sticks for repeating measurements. Saves time and reduces errors. I do a lot of trial fits using scrap wood.
Birdhunter

Offline TomK_2

  • Posts: 46
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2022, 01:14 AM »
For longer lengths I’ve been using the Festool branded stabila folding rule. I have a fastcap combination metric imperial tape but it is useless half the time because you don’t get metric marks on both sides of a face.

Offline woodbutcherbower

  • Posts: 222
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2022, 03:08 AM »

I've recently switched to metric and my main problem is that I still think in imperial for some lengths.  Having measuring and layout tools that have both metric and imperial is a nice convenience.

There’s nothing wrong with thinking in two different scales - in fact, it can be a help as you say. We’ve been metric in the UK for decades, but most woodworkers (both pro and amateur) do exactly the same thing, especially guys of my age group who were taught Imperial at school. Even now, I still find myself rough-cutting material to 6ft. long, before then trimming to accurate finished size in mm.

Edited to add - just in case it’s not common knowledge in NA, to convert from inches to mm, you multiply by 25.4 = so a foot-long piece of material is 12 x 25.4. = 304.8mm, usually rounded up to 305 in everyday use.

For fractional lengths such as 12 and 3/8 inches - firstly divide the fraction to express it as a decimal. So 3/8 = 0.375. So your piece is 12.375 inches long x 25.4 = 314.3mm, usually rounded down to 314mm as above.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2022, 03:20 AM by woodbutcherbower »

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2220
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2022, 05:55 AM »
@bwehman welcome to the club.  [welcome]

I can echo most everything stated by the other posters, & once you make the leap to thinking in base 10 it's difficult to go back to cubits, bushels and furlongs. It even creeps into my cooking.

To respond to your question, I'd recommend a combo of quality tapes and rules from a source like Axminster. There is another thread on the FOG relating to classes of tape measures, which led me to them and they have a number of options.

Treat your fine woodworking tape well, and use other tapes for situations where you will bang it around. Even class 1 tapes will fail if you bend the hook.

Axminster also has some nice satin stainless rules that I find easy to read the 1.0 & 0.5mm graduations of.

Enjoy the newfound rationality.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline twistsol1

  • Posts: 5
    • Sawdustzone
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2022, 07:29 AM »
I switched to metric in my shop about 10 years ago and have finally started thinking in metric rather than imperial. Old dogs can learn new tricks, it just takes us longer.

I use both the Fast Cap True 32 tape and a Festool branded folding rule. I find the folding rule to be more accurate. With the tape, I'm off by about 1.5mm if I measure by pushing against a surface vs hooking it over the end. All the scales in the shop, stops for the Kapex, table saw fence, etc. are calibrated to the folding rule. Story sticks which I use frequently are also verified against this rule as well.

Before I got the folding rule, dealing with tape slop just meant thinking about how I measured and measuring the stops the same way. If I hooked the tape over the end of something, when setting the stop, I'd put a piece of scrap against the stop and hook the tape over the scrap. If pushing when taking the measurement, I'd push the tape end against the stop.

For me, it isn't as much about precision as consistency. 768mm vs 770mm doesn't matter as long as whatever I decide is 768mm is the same every time.

A shop full of tools and no talent

Offline afish

  • Posts: 1215
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2022, 07:38 AM »
AND then there's the 3rd system of using decimals.  I tend to use a mix of imperial and metric for measuring and then draw everything in autocad in imperial decimal.  I wish my cad program allowed me to input metric units when drawing in imperial and it would automatically do the conversion. Even though I know the the decimal equivalent down to 1/16th out to 3 places off the top of my head I dont have my metric equivalents down yet so I have to use a cheat sheet for the most common metric sizes

5mm = .1969
8mm = .315
9.5mm = .374
15.5mm = .610
20mm = .7874
32mm = 1.2598
36mm = 1.417
36.5mm = 1.437
37mm = 1.457
46.5mm = 1.831
49mm = 1.9291
96mm = 3.7795
« Last Edit: May 13, 2022, 08:14 AM by afish »

Offline pixelated

  • Posts: 350
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2022, 07:49 AM »
I use a metric folding rule for most measuring that isn't general carpentry. I have two, one I bought during a business trip to Germany in the '90's, and another came from Lee Valley a couple of years ago. For really precise work I use a WP 600mm rule.

I go back and forth quite a lot between systems, especially with carpentry type projects. My shed is nominally 10x10 feet, but actually is 300x300 cm. [smile]

Offline tsmi243

  • Posts: 245
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2022, 08:46 AM »

Oh - and just in case anyone thinks I’m being metrically evangelical - yeah, we’re TOTALLY metric in the UK. Apart from the inconvenient truths that we drink our beer in pints, we measure our fuel consumption in miles per gallon, when asked for directions we say ‘turn right in 100 yards’, our railway track gauge is 4 feet 8.5 inches, we still go into stores and ask for 4 ounces of our favourite candy, we buy pints of milk, we weigh ourselves using stones and pounds, and measure our height in feet and inches.


That's the nice thing about standardized systems..... there's so many to choose from!

Offline Kiki231

  • Posts: 3
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2022, 08:58 AM »
I have been using a pair of Starrett metric rules for reference for over 20 years. They do not leave the shop and are only used to verify my tapes and working rules-- both of which are reasonably accurate. I have recently tried the True32 flat tape from Fastcap , and am pleasantly surprised at how it is bang on with my Starrett. I tend to go easy on the retraction so as not to slam the tip (which is fixed on the "flat" tape).
One thing to keep in mind is that consistency equals accuracy -- specifically consistent measuring devices. If you use the same tape or ruler for the entire job, they are consistent and the units (metric or imperial) aren't critical, as the error in the tape will be consistent across your work.

Offline woodbutcherbower

  • Posts: 222
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2022, 09:11 AM »

Oh - and just in case anyone thinks I’m being metrically evangelical - yeah, we’re TOTALLY metric in the UK. Apart from the inconvenient truths that we drink our beer in pints, we measure our fuel consumption in miles per gallon, when asked for directions we say ‘turn right in 100 yards’, our railway track gauge is 4 feet 8.5 inches, we still go into stores and ask for 4 ounces of our favourite candy, we buy pints of milk, we weigh ourselves using stones and pounds, and measure our height in feet and inches.


That's the nice thing about standardized systems..... there's so many to choose from!

 [big grin] [big grin] I visited the yard this morning to collect half a dozen doors and a pile of timber for an upcoming job. In the queue in front of me was a DIY guy pricing up materials for a home project. I swear the following conversation is EXACTLY how it happened;

Customer - “What sizes do your MDF sheets come in?”
Yard - “10x5, 8x4 and 6x3”.
Customer - Ah, OK. What thicknesses do you carry in stock?”
Yard - “25mm, 18mm, 15mm, 12mm, 9mm and 6mm.”
Customer - “I’ll need some skirtings (US = baseboards). What sizes do you carry in each profile?”
Yard - “5 inch, 7 inch and 9 inch. All 18mm thick”.
Customer - “What lengths do they come in?”
Yard - “5.4 metre, 4.8 metre, 3.6 metre and 2.4 metre.”
Customer - “Finally, I’ll need fence posts. What do you carry?”
Yard - “4”x4”, 5”x5” and 6”x6”. All in 3-metre lengths”.

 [eek] [eek]



Offline Steve1

  • Posts: 177
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2022, 09:54 AM »
... for lengths longer than 12" I've been using a FastCap metric tape measure with a flat tape. Thing is, the measurement can be millimeters off depending on how square the end of the tape measure is on the reference surface,

I don't get it.
Of course your tape measure has to be laid parallel to the measurement axis.  If this is difficult near the center of the board, measure and mark along the top edge of the board, and another mark along the bottom of the board, then complete the line with a straight edge.
How is this a metric vs inch issue ?

Offline Kpp80202

  • Posts: 50
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2022, 09:58 AM »
For longer lengths I’ve been using the Festool branded stabila folding rule.

^ this
Trion
CT22E
CXS kit
ETS EC 150/3
FS1400/2-LR
FS-WA/90
TS55FEQ
FS1400/2

Sold: ATF55E, FS1400 (x2), Rotex

Offline Mini Me

  • Posts: 193
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2022, 10:10 AM »
Back in the late 1970's I had a rude introduction to metric when the plans for my workshop arrived all in metric and me then having to buy new tapes and learn a new language so to speak. Looking back it was the best way to convert as I had no choice and I have never reverted to imperial except for one thing and that if someone asks me how tall I am I answer in imperial! Buy some good tapes and rules, Steel rules and BMI Quickies as shown above are my go to measuring devices in the workshop and Hultafors longer tapes outside it. The Quickie comes in two lengths 2 & 3 Metre, the 3 metre used to be both imperial and metric but now seems to be in metric only.


Offline SRSemenza

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  • Finger Lakes Region, NY State , USA
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2022, 11:11 AM »

But an 8’ x 4’ sheet of plywood? NO !! It’s 2440 x 1220mm !!!!

Good luck in your new world.


No, that's backwards,  it's 4' x 8' .  [smile]

Seth

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2220
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2022, 11:33 AM »

Oh - and just in case anyone thinks I’m being metrically evangelical - yeah, we’re TOTALLY metric in the UK. Apart from the inconvenient truths that we drink our beer in pints, we measure our fuel consumption in miles per gallon, when asked for directions we say ‘turn right in 100 yards’, our railway track gauge is 4 feet 8.5 inches, we still go into stores and ask for 4 ounces of our favourite candy, we buy pints of milk, we weigh ourselves using stones and pounds, and measure our height in feet and inches.


That's the nice thing about standardized systems..... there's so many to choose from!

 [big grin] [big grin] I visited the yard this morning to collect half a dozen doors and a pile of timber for an upcoming job. In the queue in front of me was a DIY guy pricing up materials for a home project. I swear the following conversation is EXACTLY how it happened;

Customer - “What sizes do your MDF sheets come in?”
Yard - “10x5, 8x4 and 6x3”.
Customer - Ah, OK. What thicknesses do you carry in stock?”
Yard - “25mm, 18mm, 15mm, 12mm, 9mm and 6mm.”
Customer - “I’ll need some skirtings (US = baseboards). What sizes do you carry in each profile?”
Yard - “5 inch, 7 inch and 9 inch. All 18mm thick”.
Customer - “What lengths do they come in?”
Yard - “5.4 metre, 4.8 metre, 3.6 metre and 2.4 metre.”
Customer - “Finally, I’ll need fence posts. What do you carry?”
Yard - “4”x4”, 5”x5” and 6”x6”. All in 3-metre lengths”.

 [eek] [eek]

Too funny.

IIRC the advent of 32mm frameless cabinets was after WW2 as a means of getting by with limited materials and no surviving industrial base.

Sooooo brits were using a rational system and got reinfected by our system and never recovered... Else, who would'a standardized on 2440/1220? [poke]

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Online bwehman

  • Posts: 136
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2022, 11:48 AM »
Honestly, the biggest challenge about switching to metric is having a concept of size. Like... I can picture in my head what 3 feet looks like, for example, but not 915 millimeters. That's just gonna take time I suppose.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1315
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2022, 11:56 AM »
There are online calculators and they are only as far away as my phone.  If I am converting a plan, then I make the imperial notations on the plan. 

My digital vernier toggles between mm, inches and fractions.  So any measurement under 6" is instantaneously available. 

But to the greatest extent possible I avoid measuring at all.  I transfer dimensions with a story stick, or marking directly onto the stock. 

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2220
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2022, 12:44 PM »
Honestly, the biggest challenge about switching to metric is having a concept of size. Like... I can picture in my head what 3 feet looks like, for example, but not 915 millimeters. That's just gonna take time I suppose.

I've been transitioning for around 10 years and still think Imperial. "I need 4"... that's ~100mm".

Throw in fastener thread pitches and things get jumbled really fast.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline woodbutcherbower

  • Posts: 222
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2022, 01:34 PM »
Honestly, the biggest challenge about switching to metric is having a concept of size. Like... I can picture in my head what 3 feet looks like, for example, but not 915 millimeters. That's just gonna take time I suppose.

Understood - but the easy way is to remember that a yard and a metre are about the same (36” vs just over 39”). You know what 6 feet looks like? 2 yards? It’s 2 metres or 2000mm. Another easy way to visualise stuff is to remember that a foot is around 300mm.

Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 54
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #25 on: May 13, 2022, 04:25 PM »
I also recently converted to metric after years of saying I would. Won't go back now.

I find that the Shinwa metal rules are the best for me. No glare, sharp markings, reasonable price. I choose the ones that don't have ½ mm markings, as that just makes it too hard for my old eyes to read. I can easily split a mm if I need to. Starrett rules are great, too, but way more money. Some metal rules mix up mm/cm units in weird ways that make it hard for newbies on the longer ones (eg 600mm), but Shinwa's are straightforward, just counting mm.

For tape, the Komelon PG85 8m by 25mm Metric Gripper Tape is really good as well.

Both available on Amazon.

Offline thudchkr

  • Posts: 195
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #26 on: May 13, 2022, 05:42 PM »
I've gotten the Woodpecker rules in 900, 600 and 300 lengths but tend to not rely on their measuring capability.  I will often use the multiple Starrett rulers that I have in my combo squares and double squares but my most consistent go to's are the Shinwa rules that I picked up off Amazon.  I also have some PEC hook rules that are nice as well. 

For longer measurements I use Tajima metric tapes that I've found to be spot on when compared to both the Shinwa's and the Starrett's.

I have some of the metric Fastcap's but don't use them from precise measuring.

Clint

Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 54
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #27 on: May 13, 2022, 05:46 PM »
In a related note, I also use Incra metric scales/locking teeth on my tablesaw sled fence and on my miter saw fence. The dual flip stop is very stable and can be analog-micro adjusted to lock in repeatable weeks later length cuts.


Offline Coen

  • Posts: 1565
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #28 on: May 13, 2022, 06:02 PM »
And the date today is 44694  [tongue]
Seriously, open Excel, format an empty cell as date, input 44694, hit [enter] and it will promptly convert it to 13-5-2022  [tongue]

I’ve always felt that for the North American woodworker, being introduced to the metric scale must be like learning a foreign language. For Brits, Europeans and Scandinavians - it’s a common language we all speak. We can easily point out the flaws in the Imperial system - but it’s what you guys have grown up with, it’s what you know, and what you are comfortable with.

The greatest single advantage of metric, however, is its linearity. Everything  - like EVERYTHING -  can be measured in mm rather than yards, feet, inches, halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, thirty-seconds and sixty-fourths. There’s virtually zero math involved when you need to add two bizarre lengths together, for example = for us, it’s just 242 + 147 = 389. The Imperial equivalent of that would inevitably involve a world of fractions. I couldn’t imagine subtracting 4 and 3/8ths from 12 and 17/32nds all day long.

To answer your question = a quality square-ended tape is a must - a good one will give accurate measurements in almost every case. For most applications involving accurate short-scale measurements - high-quality steel rules are your best friend, usually bought over here as a set of four - 1000/600/300/100. Check out the UK Axminster Tools website. There’s some beautiful stuff on there and they ship worldwide.

Oh - and just in case anyone thinks I’m being metrically evangelical - yeah, we’re TOTALLY metric in the UK. Apart from the inconvenient truths that we drink our beer in pints, we measure our fuel consumption in miles per gallon, when asked for directions we say ‘turn right in 100 yards’, our railway track gauge is 4 feet 8.5 inches, we still go into stores and ask for 4 ounces of our favourite candy, we buy pints of milk, we weigh ourselves using stones and pounds, and measure our height in feet and inches.

But an 8’ x 4’ sheet of plywood? NO !! It’s 2440 x 1220mm !!!!

Good luck in your new world.

Weird gauge you have. But nice that the Eurostar fits on it too. It rides on 1435mm on the continent  [tongue]

I've always said you Brits were kinda weird. I also said that if the Eurocrats in Brussels had not have stiffed Cameron Brexit would have never happened.

Untill I joined the FoG I had never realized 2440x1220 comes from some imperial origin.

That being said, for lengths longer than 12" I've been using a FastCap metric tape measure with a flat tape. Thing is, the measurement can be millimeters off depending on how square the end of the tape measure is on the reference surface, and when I'm trying to nail the position of a domino, it matters.

Huh? If you hold your tape diagonally it's gonna be off no matter the end of the tape  [huh]

Offline FestitaMakool

  • Posts: 1289
Re: New to metric but not to Festool - need advice for measuring
« Reply #29 on: May 13, 2022, 06:10 PM »
When on the move.. consider trying folding rules as well.
And no; don’t put the end of the workpiece and the look up the number you want.
Do the opposite; place the measurement/number you want at the end of the workpiece, then mark at the end of the ruler - just as you would with a combination square.

Another thing; get those flat carpenters pencils, sharpen to FLAT/WIDE/knife edge tip, never round like some (Ie: Irwin) pencil sharpeners that make wide flat pencils with a round tip.. [crying] Use a sharp knife. Can also be fine tuned on a piece of fine grit sanding paper. [wink]
The tip when sharpened correctly will stay sharper way longer than any round tipped pencil.
“Hairline” thick that is.

Place pencil at a 45° angle at the end of the folding ruler and mark. Cut the pencil line just away.
“The Stig” Yes, it is true, at least some part of it..
“If you have an old Land Rover and a fit wife, you’re most likely always busy”