One of the many consequences of Globalization is
that the American Consumer is encountering, and
sometimes forced to deal with, THE METRIC SYSTEM!
It's a Euro Plot I tell you. And I'm certain it's the
French who are behind the plot. How they got the
Germans to participate in their Evil Scheme remains
a mystery, given the two countries' history of
I first encountered The Evil Scheme when I bought
a Robland X-31 combination machine - made in
( wait for it ) --- Belgium! Laguna Tools, the U.S.A.
distributor managed to disquise the Evil Scheme
by putting an "imperial" (read "inches") tape on the
rip fence and cross cut fence. Only when trying to
fit an "imperial" allen wrench into a Metric allen head
bolt or set screw did I become aware that "something
is different" - and only on certain sizes 8mm being
close enough to 1/4" and a 250 mm diameter blade
is too close to 10" to notice. A minor irritation, not
requiring any mental math to make the conversions
back and forth - and metric allen wrench sets are
cheap - now.
They (the Euro folks) snuck 8mm collets and metric
screws, nuts and bolts into the U.S.A. woodworking
power tools market. But they were subtle about it.
But now - with the FESTOOL INVASION - the folks behind
the Evil Scheme are blatantly coming out from behind
the curtain (think Wizard of Oz, not The Iron Curtain).
These Metric Evangelicals are going to give the Christian
Evangelicals a lesson in how to be evangelical. The
Metric Evangelicals have tangible - see for yourself -
objective, measurable facts, rather than mere "faith",
to support their claims of Metric Superiority.
To support my hypothesis I give you the Festool DOMINO.
EVERYTHING IS METRIC - and it's printed right on all
the controls! They took our beloved mortising machines
and router jigs, and our hallowed biscuit joiner - and
COMBINED THEM INTO ONE HAND HELD POWER TOOL!
Not only that, but they made it easier and quicker to do
functions of both of our "old favorites" - along with
some things our "old favorites" can't do.
You can cut mortises of various widths, depths, thicknesses
and offset from a reference edge, face or end - in side, face
or end grain - with the flick of a switch or lever, and maybe
a quick and easy bit change - AND with the speed and
convenience of a biscuit joiner, albeit one on STEROIDS.
But The Devil Is In The Details.
The first detail is the mental gymnastics involved with
thinking in millimeters rather than the old familiar,
sixteenths, eighths, quarters and halfs - as well as
whole inches. QUICK - hold your thumb and finger
16 millimeters apart. OK, what familiar fraction
of an inch is closest to 19 millimeters? (3/4")
The second detail is the apparent simplicity of
Four different "bits" that look sort of like a spiral
router bit or an end mill - 'til you examine the grind
on the end.
- 5, 6, 8 and 10 mm diameter bits -
Add a little stair steps looking "distance from
reference face offset to the centerline of the
mortise - with steps printed in white letters
- 16, 20, 22, 25, 28, 36 and 40 mm
Then there's a selector nob on top with three
positions that determine the width of the mortise
WITHOUT the diameter of the bit you're using.
When you actually examine (not just glance at)
the manual you find that the three positions
- 13, 19 and 23 millimeters - PLUS the
diameter of the bit being used
There's also a little Flip This Up, Push That
Foreward and the spring loading will pop
IT foreward and click IT into one of FIVE
- 12, 15, 20, 25 and 28 millimeters depth of
Thankfully, the fence angle is Degrees - no
metric conversion required as it has detentes
at 0, 22.5, 45, 67.5 and 90 degrees. Why
22.5 and 67.5 degrees I'll worry about later.
Now if you had Permutations and Combinations
in some math class somewhere in your past,
or for some of us, in our DISTANT past, you
begin to see the built in - preset - possibilities
- 4 bit diameters (see how they sneak meters
into words we are familiar with?)
- 5 depth of mortise
- 3 mortise widths LESS one of four bit diameters
(there it is again - meters!)
- 7 offsets from a reference face, edge or end
MINUS half the diameter (they did it again) of
one of four bits.
4 x 5 x (3x4) x (7x4) = ?
ready for this?
5,040 different combinations - all in METRIC.
(and that's without any fence angles
or "stops" distances (more about the
latter another time).
There are things about metric that are
good - going 105 Km/Hr sounds a lot
faster than a mere 65 mph. A 250 mm
table saw blade sounds more Tool Time
BIG than ten inches. Metric just makes
things seem FASTER/BIGGER (Don't even
think about saying it. OK - you thought it
- just don't say it!).
Because I see things in "imperial" mental
images, I'm doing a bunch of tables and
charts and scale drawings of what all this
metric stuff the DOMINO uses "looks like".
And when I think I understand what on the
DOMINO does what - and how wide, how deep,
how long and how far from - THEN I'll make
a bunch of real world samples and label
them (fence offset, bit diamter, plunge
depth, mortise widith selector switch
position - until it all becomes second nature
to me, or I die first.
And speaking of Death - have you been
- Born Again?
You ain't gonna get inta heaven 'til ya unerstand
Come on down tuh da shop and I'll make ya
a BELIEVER. Never to late ya hear?