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Imperial or metric for lathes and mills?

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This may well be a pointless question. Nevertheless, and just in case there is someone willing to humour me, I'll ask.


It's whether for ship modelling there's any advantage to use a lathe or a mill in imperial rather than metric, seeing that the original plans are mostly in imperial measurements. An alternative to this question is its complementary one: why would one choose an imperial-based lathe or mill over a metric one?


My suspicion is that it wouldn't make much difference, especially as scaling down by 1/48 or 1/64 will mostly involve decimals in either of the two systems.


Any takers?



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My preference would to be to use plans in decimal feet or metric, I would probably convert inches and fractions directly to decimal feet from plans before I did anyththing with them.

Generally when you are dealing with machine tools, you are working in decimals of something, ' inches or metric', as long as you are using base 10, it should make little difference when you setup the machines. Having been a Surveyor I like to work in decimals, that is what the slide rule, calculator and computers use anyway. Fractions are converted to decimals by those machines in order to work with them, if asked some will convert them back.  I don't really care for imperial numbers, an awkward way of manipulating numbers if there are any calculations involved. Mills is a much better way of measuring and displaying angles than degrees, Minutes and Seconds, unless you convert to Decimal Degrees. Any machine you will have available to you, will be using decimals, make a choice or take pot luck, they all will do the job, mine uses decimal inches, it's the 12 inches equals a foot and fraction inches that is a problem and only then when manipulating them for a math problem.


Edited by shiloh
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Buy what will be easiest and comfortable for you.  Metric is European and Empirical is here in the states,  If the plans and scales you are working with are standard go standard.  If metric go metric.  Where I used to work we always converted to decimals for measuring and set ups.  But errors could always creep in.  I think you will be happy going the metric route.  Less converting and easier to scale.

David B 

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