In the EU, measurements are normally given in metres and millimetres. This means that 54cm is written either as 0.54m or 540mm. 2m + 37.4cm is always 2.374m or 2374mm. Many DIY goods on sale in the UK will only list the metric measurement.

Linear Measurements

1 metre (1 m) is approximately 3ft 3in (39.37in).
1 inch when converted to metric, is 25.4mm.

However, when you go shopping, you will find that there is slight difference between the actual conversion and the manufacturers' conversion, so that items measuring 1 inch could be manufactured as 25mm. Because the manufacturer's conversion is always fractionally less than the actual conversion from imperial measurements, you should always measure in metric to avoid mistakes.

Imperial (inches)

Actual (mm)

Manufacturers' Conversion (mm)

1

25.4

25

2

50.8

50

3

76.2

75

4

101.6

100

5

127

125

6

152.4

150

7

177.8

175

8

203.2

200

9

228.6

225

10

254.0

250

11

279.4

275

12

304.8

300

24 (2 ft)

609.6

600

36 (3 ft)

914.4

900

39 ^{3}/_{16}in

1000.0

1000

48 (4 ft)

1219.2

1200

60 (5 ft)

1524.0

1500

72 (6 ft)

1828.8

1800

84 (7 ft)

2133.6

2100

96 (8 ft)

2438.4

2400

For example, if you want to buy a 6 ft long piece of timber you will find that the shops sell 1800mm or 1.8metre lengths.

If you continue to calculate using imperial measurements, you will have to convert them into metric measurements using the following conversion factors:

Imperial to metric

Metric to Imperial

in x 25.4 = mm

mm x 0.0394 = inch

ft x 0.3048 = metres

mm x 0.0394 = inch

yd x 0.9144 = metres

metres x 1.0936 = yard

Bricks and Blocks

The metric brick is slightly smaller than the old imperial one. It is posssible to bond metric bricks into old brick work by slightly increasing the mortar bed joint as shown in the table below.

length

width

height

typical joint

Metric

225mm

112.5mm

75mm

10mm

8.86in

4.43in

2.95in

0.39in

Imperial

9in

4^{1}/_{2}in

3in

^{3}/_{8}in

228.6mm

114.3mm

76.2mm

9.5mm

Brick quantities

It takes 60 bricks to build 1 square metre of brick wall, the table below shows the number of bricks needed to build various sizes of wall.

Area

Quantity

1m^{2}

60 bricks

2m^{2}

120 bricks

5m^{2}

300 bricks

10m^{2}

600 bricks

Building Blocks

One block covers the same area as 2 brick lengths and 3 brick heights. To cover the same size walls as the brick table above you will need :-

Area

Quantity

1m^{2}

10 blocks

2m^{2}

21 blocks

5m^{2}

53 blocks

10m^{2}

106 blocks

Buying Timber

Timber can be purchased sawn, planed all round (PAR), or, planed both sides (PBS) (with the edges left sawn).

Sawn wood is very rough and is mostly used for structural work where the surface is not on show.

To make furniture or cupboards, you will need planed wood. Planing timber means that between 3mm and 5mm of wood is removed, so a 25mm piece of planed wood ends up as 22mm. A board measuring 152mm wide will end up as 146mm wide, as 3mm at each side will have been planed. You should note that when buying wood at timber yards or DIY stores, the sizes referred to are still sawn wood sizes — even after it has been planed to make it smooth. So a piece of 50 x 100mm PAR wood is actually 47 x 95mm.

When you buy timber, it's a good idea to try and buy the standard sizes as these are cheaper. Allow a little extra on lengths, in particular for cutting, and to compensate for any 'dirty' or damaged edges. A good rule of thumb is to add an extra 13mm for every 610mm.

Always reject wood with large knots as this is the sign of weak wood. Where there's a knot, there's often a bend or twist in the wood. End splits are another common fault and can sometimes extend right up the board. These are usually caused by rapid drying and you'll lose length because the split wood has to be cut away. Other defects to look out for are 'cupped' boards, where there is a warped curve across the width of the board.

BASIC LENGTHS OF SAWN SOFTWOODS:

Softwood comes in standard lengths of 1.80m (6 ft equivalent) 2.10m 2.40m 2.70m 3.0m 3.30m 3.60m 3.90m 4.20m 4.50m 4.80m 5.10m 5.40m 5.70m 6.0m and 6.30m

As stated above when buying planed softwood timbers, deduct 3mm from sawn sizes of the width and depth. For example, 25 x 50mm PAR (planed all round) is normally 22 x 47mm in actual size.

MAN-MADE BOARDS:

Plywood comes in sheets with thicknesses ranging from 3mm to 18mm.

Standard sheet sizes are : 2440 x 1220mm (8ft x 4ft), 1220 x 1220mm (4ft x 4ft) and 1220 x 610mm (4ft x 2ft). It is sometimes possible to have whole sheets cut to size by the timber yard (or DIY store), this can make using the sheets much easier and also makes it easier to get the sheets home if you are not having the boards delivered.

Chipboard also is sold in sheets with thicknesses of 9mm, 12mm, 15mm and 18mm. Standard sheet sizes for chipboard is 2440 x 1220mm (8ft x 4ft). Again it is someties possible to have the sheets cut to size by the timber yard.

Melamine and timber finished chipboard comes in a standard thickness of 15mm with plank lengths of 1820mm (6ft), 2440mm (8ft) and widths from 150mm (6in) to 600mm (2ft)

Hardboard is sold in sheets of 2440mm x 1200mm (8ft x 4ft) the thickness of standard hardboard is 3.2mm