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Reply with quote  #1 

ProjectCalc Tool

Let me introduce you to another workshop tool I use regularly.
To me, it is, a shop essential when building projects outside of toy making and for toy making also.
We are all quite aware of the problems that exist when using stock materials such as MDF, Particle Board, Plywood and various types of natural woods and mixing these board types on one project.
The biggest culprit is Plywood, we know and have experienced/discovered that the 3/4" plywood is not 3/4” and is indeed 23/32” and similarly 1/2” plywood is not 1/2" but is 15/32”.
It may not sound or look like a big difference, but when making cabinets, the difference between using a 3/4" router bit and a 23/32” router bit for joinery is a big deal.
But let us not worry about that right now.

There is a shop tool that can help you … it is a calculator, but not a common calculator, it is one that can accept entering measurements in fractions, fractions as small as 1/64” of an inch. It is quite versatile allowing you to perform all common mathematical functions and more.

Here it is.
It is called a ‘ProjectCalc - Calculator” made by ‘Calculated Industries’.
When it was first released to the market place it was rather pricey and has come down in price to an affordable cost, around $24.00 CDN, and can be found for even less on EBay and some local shops.

 1 Basic.jpg              2 Plus.jpg 

Displayed above is the basic version on the left and the more advanced on the right.
As you can see, it is not only focused on doing simple woodworking calculations but supports other common calculations for a home handyman also. If you wish to learn more about what it can do, I would suggest that you go to their website and download the instructional manual pdf file.

Let us get back to toy making and examples of where it shows its strength.

Problem 1 – How long to cut an Axle Pin or dowel for proper wheel attachment.
I have drilled a 3/4" deep hole in a board to accept a common Axle Pin.
My wheel thickness is 1/2" and I would like to have a 1/64” space between the wheel and the board it is to be secured to for freewheeling of the wheel.
How long does the tenon of the Axle pin need to be?
Let us work out the math using the basic ProjectCalc and I will show you the screen shots of the display.

Enter the value 1/2” for the wheel thickness as per their calculator’s instructions.
3 One Half Inch.jpg 
Then press the ‘+’ key.

Now, enter the value of 1/64”, for the freewheeling space.
4 One Sixty Fourth.jpg 
Then press the ‘+’ key.

You will see the results of both of the entered values, being 33/64”.
  5 33 Sixty Fourths.jpg 

Now enter the value of 3/4", for the depth of the hole made for the axle pin tenon.
And complete the calculation by pressing the ‘=’ key.

Here are you results.
6 Problem 1 Results.jpg    
The length of your axle pin tenon should be 1-17/64” supporting your dimensions.

OK, I have a feeling of what you are thinking … that is a pretty high level of accuracy just for attaching a wheel.
I agree with you 100%, and in practicality, the tenon can be cut shorter and still work and if you used a 1/64” spacer between the wheel and the surface of the wood it is being mounted to there will be no problems inserting a shorter tenon into the glued hole and end up with a freewheeling wheel.
My purpose here was to demonstrate the calculating capabilities of the tool, presenting to you that measurements as low as 1/64” can be entered and calculated.

Let us do something a little more down to earth and repeatedly done while toy making.


Problem 2 – Do I have enough wood for this project?
I have a piece of wood which is 2 feet, 3-3/4” in length or 27-3/4".
My project needs cut pieces of 7-5/8” in length.
How many project pieces can I cut from the length of wood I have in hand?

Enter 2 feet, 3 and 3/4”, which represents the length of wood you have in hand.
7 Problem 2A.jpg 
Then press the ‘÷’ key.
Here I am demonstrating entering dimensions using feet and inches, you do not have to convert to inches before you do your additional calculations.

Enter 7 and 5/8”, the length of the wood you need, and want to know how many you can get from your wood in hand.
8 Problem 2B.jpg 

Lastly press the ‘=‘ key for your results.

9 Problem 2 Results.jpg   
You can cut 3.6 pieces of 7-5/8” from the wood at hand.
Notice the display is not in inches or feet, that is not what you asked for.
You asked for how many pieces of a specific length you could get, that is why it gave you a whole number and it decimal equivalent.

How much wood is left over?
Using the calculator again enter 7-5/8” multiply that by 3 and you will get 22-7/8”.
Now clear the screen and enter 2 feet 3-3/4” (or 27-3/4”) and subtract 22-7/8” and you will see the remaining piece of wood is 4-7/8”.

Ah … but it is not … you did not compensate for the thickness of your saw blade, which we will say is 1/8” and the three cuts required to make the three pieces.
So from the calculated 4-7/8” you would subtract 3/8” (1/8 x 3 cuts) which leaves you with 4-1/2”.
That math is only necessary if you really need to know how much wood is scrap because of a secondary piece part requirement for the project.

It may have been easier to calculate this if you added the width of the saw blade, 1/8”, to the length of the piece part you wanted, 7-5/8”, which would be 7-3/4”.
Multiply that by 3 to yield 23-1/4” and then subtract that form the board length at hand being 27-3/4” you will end up with the same result being 4-1/2”.

I hope I have not really confused you with the math, but believe me, using the calculator for simple or complex mathematics is really simple and no scratch pad, eraser and pencil is required.

With today’s technologies and ‘apps’ available I know you can buy an ‘app’ for your phone that does the same thing and software to load onto your computer if you wish.
This calculator is much easier to carry around in the workshop, in the garage or helping a friend build a deck at his house.

Take a look at it and see what you think.
Remember, at some point in the near future, someone is going to ask you – what do you want for your birthday, Father’s or Mother’s Day, or even anniversary.
Be prepared have the answer or get another shirt and tie.

Happy Toy Making


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Posts: 171
Reply with quote  #2 
This is absolutely mind boggling stuff Udie.
My mind is absolutely boggling as I type.
.If only I knew what fractions were [crazy]
Here in Doc's Wood Den we only deal with millipedes [thumb]


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Reply with quote  #3 
Doc - I agree, it is a mind boggling tool and I love it. Just to let you know, I went to their web site and they do have a Metric version, the ProjectCalc Plus MX. I did not see a button specifically for millepedes but there are buttons and functions to calculate in mm, cm and m.

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Posts: 208
Reply with quote  #4 
Hi Udie,

Fantastic tool! Have you checked into the 8510 model? I was wondering if it is as useful at a lower price (older model). They don't seem to provide to much detail in the description.

Frank Galica

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Reply with quote  #5 
For full details about this calculator you should go to the manufacturer's web site which is Calculated Industries. You will see that it supports almost all of the calculation needs of the average home owner. 
Watch their product videos for excellent examples on the use and capabilities of this calculator.
Now, let us focus on the toy makers needs.
Yes, it will do calculations allowing you to enter measurements as low as 1/64th of an inch.
Perfect for the workshop.[thumb]
Hope this helps.


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Reply with quote  #6 
I have a 4050 Construction Master 5 and it was 50.00 us about 4 years ago and I tell you that it does about every thing that you can think of. - Don

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Posts: 1,617
Reply with quote  #7 
If you have an Android smart phone take a look at fraction calculator plus. Its free, works great and its brain dead simple to use.
Advanced techniques are the basics perfectly applied.
Odin's Toy Factory Etsy Store
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Reply with quote  #8 
BadBoy - Great tip on using a fractional calculator app on your cell phone.
When I purchased the calculator, cell phone apps did not exist.
Now there are so many of them, it is just a matter of downloading the ones offered as free and give them a try.
I now have a couple on my cell phone and are a great tool to use.

Posts: 153
Reply with quote  #9 
lol know how many times a week I say that? lol.....
   As for not knowing what fractions are, I kid you not. I was on a construction site and a kid was brought on as a new carpenter's apprentice...he had NO idea what the little tickies on the tape measure were....I'd call out a dimension: I need 72 7/16" he say "what's a 16th? is that the big ticky the little ticky or the really small ticky"?
   He lasted for a half hour with me.....btw, he DID have a high school a kid could graduate without knowing what a fraction was is beyond me.....
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