14 Dec

I buy my timber by the cubic foot. I design and build in old Imperial yards, feet, inches, eighths of an inch and sixteenths. Most of my clients think metrically so I offer a conversion on my drawings, but in my head and body imperial holds sway.


Here my selected stack of chocolate heart ash is being measured up to calculate my invoice in amount per cubic foot.

I am not trying to be a Luddite because ‘this is the way things are’ in the world of timber.

It so happens that an inch is the length of the first digit of my right index finger; one and a half inches the second digit; nine inches the span between outstretched little finger and thumb and so on. I internalised these measurements 40 years ago when at 16 I had stopped growing.

Dimensions are best appreciated with reference to one’s own body. Nature can blow your mind without this frame of reference:

Here I am standing at the base of a giant coastal redwood in John Muir park California – a mere speck, dwarfed by the scale of a 300 foot high colossus.

Inches and feet are human dimensions; metres, centimetres and certainly millimetres are measurements of science, of precision. Tell me I’m old fashioned, but if it fits in the hand and can be weighed in your palm doesn’t it feel right?

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