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How to Easily Measure the Outside of a Shape

Kevin is looking at one of his ocotillo sculptures that has a round, dimensional base after a viewer asked how you figure out how much metal you'd need to go around something like a pedestal.

How do you figure out how long a piece of metal you'll need?

Kevin says there are three ways to do it.

The first involves math. He measures across a round piece of metal that is 20" in diameter. Then he grabs a calculator and multiplies the diameter by pi, which is 3.14. You get 62.8," which is just a little more than 62-3/4".

But what if you don't have a calculator? Or don't want to do math? There's a way to "cheat." Place the edge of your metal on your workbench, a sidewalk, driveway or wherever you happen to be. Use chalk to put a mark on the metal and on the workbench (or you can place the mark on the edge of the workbench).

Then just roll the metal along the bench and, when the mark on the piece you are measuring reaches the table, put another mark. Now measure it from mark to mark.

Kevin always cuts his metal a little longer than the measurement, just in case. For instance with this piece, which measured to 62.8", he'd probably cut the metal at 63". It's always easier to cut off a little than have to fit a piece!

What happens if you have a shape that isn't round? Kevin shows a piece of metal from a sculpture he is working on ( ). He wanted to cut a piece of 1/8" x 1" strap to wrap around a form to give himself a little clearance for later in the project.

How did he measure it? He used a piece of rope, held the spot with his finger where the rope came together, then pulled the rope tight along a yardstick and measured.

Even easier: use a cloth sewing measuring tape, which has the numbers marked right on it!

Kevin hopes those tips help you the next time you want to measure something to cut the right sized piece of metal.

He's ready to go back to work, but you might want to stick around one more moment to see Kevin check his work ....

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