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Shop Math: How to Find the Center of Anything



The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing?

Kevin Caron: I'm wondering who cut this piece of metal. It starts out at 8 inches on that end and winds up just shy of 8 and a half on this end. Must've been me.

How do you find the middle of something?

The Voice: I don't know.

Kevin Caron: You can measure it with your ruler. You can measure across; come half over. But what do you do if you've got a weird measurement like 8 and a 16th? The answer would be four and a 32nd, but it's really hard to mark a 32nd.

When you get down in here and you've got just shy of 8 and a half; how do you find that middle? How do you find the middle quickly?

The Voice: I don't know, but I hope you're going to tell me.

Kevin Caron: Measure diagonally. Zero to, let's say, 10 inches. Mark it at 5. Hit it right in the middle. It works down here; even though this is 8 inches and this is 8 and a half inches, you can do the same thing down here on this end. Zero to 10. Mark it at 5. You're right in the middle.

The Voice: Does the diagonal matter?

Kevin Caron: No. It doesn't matter what diagonal you have on your piece of metal. It doesn't matter what numbers you use, as long as you can go to the middle. You know: Half of 10 is 5, half of 20 is 10. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how wide it is.

It speeds things up. You don't have to do high math; you don't have to sit there and figure out what half of a 32nd is and then try to find that little tiny line. You can just work with the big lines.

It's real quick; real easy. Back to work on my contemporary art sculpture!

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