American Woodworker

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Winter 2013-2014

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Fractions Made Easy





Did I do the math right? Woodworking often calls for addition and subtraction of fractions. Fractional math can make your head spin and leave you with that nagging doubt. A fractional calculator is cheap insurance to make sure everything adds up.

The ProjectCalc from Calculated Industries ($25) is specifically designed for the construction trade and do-it-yourselfers. This little genius is designed to do everything from fractional math to figuring board feet to calculating how many bundles of shingles are needed to cover a roof. Commonly used formulas, like board feet, are stored in the calculator. Enter the dimension (thickness x width x length), then convert and you’ll have the board-foot total. Not only does ProjectCalc handle fractions, it “thinks” in inches, yards and feet and can convert from one to the other.

You can also walk into almost any office supply store and for as little as $8 you’ll find calculators that handle fractions. If possible, use the calculator before you buy it. Make sure entering whole numbers and fractions is intuitive so you don’t go nuts trying to master the calculator. Many of these calculators handle fractions, but they don’t work in feet and inches. You’ll also need to memorize the formulas for calculations like board feet.