Hamilton's Math To Build On - copyright 1993


About Math To Build On || Contents || Glossary

Math is the common thread which runs through all design and construction work. The physical work and the techniques used by different trades differ according to those trades' various requirements, but the basic math used doesn't change. Every person, from the amateur wood worker to the most skilled trades craftsman, must be able to determine the exact lengths of the materials for their work. While many skills are not transferable from trade to trade, math skills and the ability to be precise are.

Gertrude Stein said, "A rose is a rose is a rose." We could say, "An arc is an arc is an arc." Wherever arcs are used -- whether in bends, elbows, curves on tanks, offsets in sidewalks, painted designs on walls, mosaics on floors, curved staircases or logos, they are all calculated through the use of the same formulas.

We could also say, "A right triangle is a right triangle is a right triangle." Right triangles are used to calculate everything from loads on cranes to offsets in molding. Together the arc and right triangle are the base for all calculations in the trades. From this base, craftspeople can calculate any of their work. Beyond this base is the engineer's realm of calculus and analytical geometry.

It is reported that about 90% of the people in this country feel uncomfortable with their math abilities. Such a large percentage of uncertainty in areas where so much math is used is disastrous. The amount of math that we really use does not fill volumes and does not need to be intimidating. The basic principles can be stated simply, and after that it's a matter of practice. The proof that those principles work is seen when they solve problems in the field.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

Home || The Math Library || Quick Reference || Search || Help 

© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.

Johnny & Margaret Hamilton
Construction Trades Press
Please direct inquiries to main@constructpress.com
23 October 1995
Web page design by Sarah Seastone for the Geometry Forum