Just a Fraction of an Inch

In 1970, when I was working for a millwork subcontracting company in a small town in northern New Hampshire, I was given the task of coordinating the machining of approximately 1,000 wood doors with metal frames (“bucks”) for a hospital addition and renovation project in upstate New York. As part of its subcontract, my employer was to coordinate and supply all of the wood doors for the project.

My assignment took me to the job site, where the frames had already been installed. It was an interesting scene. None of the interior partitions had been built, so the 1,000 standing door frames looked like a forest. I had to locate each frame by number (fortunately, they were marked) and verify dimensions (height, width, rabbet, latch, and hinge (“butt”) locations). From my perspective at the time, they all looked the same. I had not yet heard the saying “measure twice, cut once”. Instead, I measured once, and every one of the 1,000 doors had to be cut twice. First, the door manufacturer followed my dimensions and machined the butt cutouts on the door edge, and then the contractor did it again in the field, because my field dimensions between the butt locations in the metal frames had been off by 1/16 inch. Sometimes, a fraction of an inch really does make a difference.

Posted in Oops

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