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 the options.
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 in millimeters - 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 are for - 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 positions - 12, 15, 20, 25 and 28 millimeters depth of mortise
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 METRIC.
Come on down tuh da shop and I'll make ya a BELIEVER. Never to late ya hear?