# Changing Building Materials to Metric

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• posted on March 12, 2006, 5:34 pm

There are calculators available that do that.
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 5:41 pm

Here's a good description: http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060219/news_1hs19carey.html
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 5:45 pm

Here's a specific one: http://www.calculated.com/4/prd101/Construction+Master+Pro.html
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 6:07 pm

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• posted on March 12, 2006, 9:07 pm

SAE is a plot by calculator manufacturers to sell more calculators.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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• posted on March 13, 2006, 7:20 pm

Not sure what standard window sizes exist in metric, but a 32 5/8" window would be measured as 82.8 centimeters, so halving that is pretty easy.

What makes you think one can't measure fractions of a millimeter when needed?
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• posted on March 14, 2006, 2:50 am
snipped-for-privacy@xs4a11.nl wrote:

Can't find the original so replying here.
Why would one need a calculator to half a metric measurement? It is simpler than the Enlish (actually American now) system. Or do you mean to convert from 32 5/8" to metric then halve it? If so, why the hell would you want to do that? If the naysayers would just forget about converting back and forth they would realize their objections are baseless.
For another exampe, try 37 11/16, quick what's the 1/2 point? In metric it is just as simple no matter what the size.
Harry K
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 5:36 am
snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

You're missing the beauty of the whole system. Right now you're doing conversions when you need more accuracy, and more complicated conversions. If you are measuring a big distance you speak of miles, and think 5280 feet, if it's a room sized distance you talk of feet, and think 12 inches, if it's the width of a board, you think inches. If you need to be more precise you have to switch to fractions (remember the fun you had learning fractions as a kid?).
Now compare that to the metric system where to increase or decrease the unit of measurement you just change the name of the unit, and think 10 - either multiply or divide. There are no decimal points necessary to deal with as you just change the unit of measurement. The unit of measurement is the decimal point. If you want to stick with a particular unit, you'll have to use a decimal point, but the conversion is still less complex than dividing by 12, 5280, 16 or whatever.
Now, about your point about plywood - I'm glad you brought that up - how thick is 1/2" plywood? It's 7/16", not a full 1/2", and that works out to .4375". Do you ask for .4375" plywood, or even 7/16" plywood? Of course not. It's rounded off as a convention. Everyone learns that the first time they use a building material. Whether it's a 2"x4" not being either 2" or 4", plywood, or whatever. You've already learned to make that mental conversion and don't even think about it. The only time you need to think about it, say when you're building up members or sheets, you remember it and make the mental adjustment. Metric plywood doesn't work that way. The number designation for the thickness of metric plywood indicates the actual thickness - no conversion necessary.

A lot of the older houses I work on have studs that are close to the full 2" thickness for lumber, and the actual height for the old materials is also greater than the current materials you buy. You know it, and you just deal with it.

Maybe they'd change the size of the box, or maybe you'd just ask for it by a rounded off number designation. They could call it a B series box. It really doesn't matter.

That article I linked to goes into that. Right now I have to shim out, or cut down to make current materials match up with the old stuff. How would the situation be any different. I'm not that old of a guy, and I've seen the nominal lumber and plywood sized drop significantly. When I started out a 2x was 1 5/8" thick, then they dropped to 1 9/16", now I'm seeing 1 1/2". This is before shrinkage! It's like the "improvements" that candy bar makers make when they make the bar smaller and the packaging larger. You know, annoying!

Wouldn't have to.

That's another idiotic thing about the measurement system we use. We use 16d nails, the d stands for penny, and we ask for a 16 penny nail, even though the letter designation is the wrong letter and the penny hasn't had anything to do with the size of the nail for over a century. A 16d nail is ~3.5" long, which is 8.89 centimeters, you'd just ask for a 9 cm nail. Since the 16d nail doesn't relate to anything about the nail _anyway_, they might keep the name and it wouldn't matter. You'd still know it was roughly the right size.
Getting your mind around an idea, particularly one that seems to represent a major shift in thinking, can be problematic. Switching to the metric system would be one of those situations where the thought and apprehension beforehand would be worse than dealing with the different dimensions once the conversion to the new system had been made.
R
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 8:09 am
wrote:

Yes, i know it means penny, which you'd think would be "P" not "D", but the guy was probably a real bad speller. However, WHAT DOES penny have to do with a nail? Is that what they used to charge per nail? (Which would be very expensive even today), so I am going to take a wild guess that was the price per some quantity of them.
It's funny, we learn all these things and never question them until one day it slaps you in the face, like this just slapped me....
Mark
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 3:17 pm

d is the symbol for penny. It started a long time ago in England. 16d nails cost 16 cents per hundred. Smaller nails cost less per hundred so you get 8d, 6d, etc.

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• posted on March 13, 2006, 7:46 am
wrote:

Thanks
Now I know that. Sure cant buy them for that price today. 100 16d's would probably be a little over 2 lbs and at todays price, be around \$2.50
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 6:30 am

The above are purely arbitrary naming conventions, they don't have any direct relationship to specific measurement systems.
And how long is a 16d nail anyway? First, you need to know what _kind_ of nail it is. Back when they were really measured that way, you also had to know the inflation rate.
And just how big is a barrel? It depends on what you put in it. There are dozens of different size "standard" barrels in the US alone.
SAE/Imperial grew by accretion by a whole host of arbitrary "measures" which weren't measures of the relevant things. I mean, indicating nail length by how much a 100 of the things cost more than a century ago? Is that silly or what?
The value of metric is that all of the measures (length, weight, volume etc) are directly related by simple rules. And secondly, things specified by metric are actually based on _measurements_ other than bizarre centuries old irrelevancies.
Wouldn't it be nice to know how big a #36 or "A" drillbit is without having to resort to a book?
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 2:13 pm

I noticed that the National Electrical code is now referencing sizes in metric as well as the conventional American system.
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 4:40 pm

That isn't anything recent: I know that's in the 1993 Code, and I *think* it was there as far back as '87.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 3:13 pm

I ran into the other side of that problem some time ago.
We bought a teak shelf system that was made in Denmark. I wanted to screw the vertical standards into studs because this was a fairly heavy item even before the shelves had stuff on them. The horizontal spacing of the standards was determined by the shelf size as the shelves were keyed to the standards.
The whole thing was metric. If I centered a standard on a stud, then the standard on either side just barely lined up with a stud. The fourth standard missed a stud completely and I had to resort to toggle bolts for that one.
All was well until we moved. For three of the standards there were just small holes where wood screws had gone in, but for the last standard I had some ugly holes to patch. Since this was a living room location the patches had to be well done and not slap dash.
Charlie
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 4:08 pm
Charlie Bress wrote:

<snip>
What am I missing? They were toggle bolts so why would you be left with big holes?. All that should be there wouild be a hole the size of the screw. I just remove the screw and let the toggle fall into the wall.
Harry K
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 4:15 pm
Harry K wrote:

OOOPS! Correction: a hole large enough to pass the toggle - still not a major problem.
Harry K
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• posted on March 12, 2006, 7:04 pm
On 11-Mar-2006, snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

40cm, 60cm. Pretty difficult, huh?

2.4 by 1.2 m. Thickness? One inch is 25mm. A two by four is 50 by 100mm nominal. No need to be more accurate. Construction accuracy is 1/8 inch in imperial units and some dimensions (like wood dimensions) are nominal anyway. If you are concerned with accuracy, you have to know the difference between nominal sizes and finished sizes.
Canada switched to metric for construction in the 70's and the construction industry didn't fall over and die. Arguments against switching to metric are based on fear of change, not logic.
Mike
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• posted on March 13, 2006, 3:58 am
Michael Daly wrote:

Amen. And once the change was made, they would be wondering why they ever opposed it.
Harry K