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.