A measuring tape was one of the first tools I learned how to use, though I don’t directly remember the specifics of learning how to use one. Who knows. Maybe it was the ruler in elementary school. I took drafting in the seventh grade and we used rulers in that class. Took shop class, so theoretically there was one there. By the time I dropped out of school to crawl under houses and go full time into construction, I had somehow learned how to find measurements on a tape and distinguish between halves, quarters, eighths and sixteenths in relation to whole numbers.
Keith King and David Buchanan, the master carpenters I cut my teeth with, helping them do the work on high end homes in the old part of San Antonio, taught me phrases like, “half inch light,” or “a strong nine sixteenths.” Curtis Miller, the framing contractor who taught me how to build the structure of a home, used this method as well. “Cut the next one ninety six and a sixteenth strong.” Now, when I am making a window sash for a typical Tampa historic home, I like my finished thickness to be one and three eighths, on the light side. I know the exact spot where my machines need to be set to achieve that too.