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Theres a Better Way

How to Avoid Complicated Fractions When Measuring a Workpiece

comments (0) January 6th, 2012
grateful.ed Chuck Miller, editor at large

For use with multi-clip THERE's A BETTER WAY BLOG posts only

Video Length: 1:53
Produced by: John Ross

If you need to divide a piece of wood by some inconvenient fractional number like 11/64, you could do some fractional conversions in your head or on paper, but there's a better way.

David Kalin, from Oahu, Hawaii, likes to take the lazy man's approach to this by dividing numbers that are easily divisible in his head.


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What I'm doing is simply taking my tape measure, and instead of measuring straight across the workpiece, I'm taking it at an angle until I find a number that is easily divisible by 2. In this case, there's 18 inches. So I'll line up at 18 and mark 9 (though in the close-up you'll notice we split 16 into 8s instead of 18 into 9s). That is the halfway point in this board.

Let's say I need to divide this into 5 equal increments. So I find something that's easily divisible by 5, like 20. Then I mark at 4, 8, 12, and 16, and I've got 5 equal divisions.

Now let's pretend this board is a room, and we need to find the center point of this room. We take our tape measure and we measure out to a point that we know is a little more than halfway, or a little bit less than halfway (it doesn't matter which). We've got a 47-foot room here (representing feet with inches for this demonstration). So we're going to come out to 24 feet. Then we're going to go the other way and measure 24 feet. And now all we have to do is measure the distance between these two marks and split that short distance in half. That's the halfway point of our room. And we haven't had to do anything more complicated than that.

Thank you, David. That's a great tip.

posted in: measuring and marking tools