UPDATE: **Shop Math** v1.01 is now available for download at the iTunes App Store. This update includes a new graphical interface designed by my 16 year old nephew Daniel. It also includes two minor bug fixes. If you already have **Shop Math** the update is free. For new downloads it is now the budget bending price of $.99. That’s 99 *cents*, just to be clear!

I’m going to be straight up honest with you, I hate math! I’m awful at it, I can’t see straight when more than two numbers appear in a row and expect to be added, or subtracted or anything else, and I avoid it all together whenever possible. Unfortunately, there is a lot of math in woodworking and, worst of all, there are a lot of fractions and decimals and even weird things like millimeters and centimeters. Because my brain shuts down when these things show up I usually compensate by just trying to count the tiny lines on the ruler instead of doing any real figuring. Not surprisingly, my way of working with numbers is not always especially accurate. I needed a better solution and now I have it: **Shop Math**

I designed **Shop Math** for people like me who love building things but do not love math. **Shop Math** does all of the figuring for me. I can convert decimals to fractions, fractions to decimals and, decimals to millimeters. I can also calculate board feet and by entering the price per BF figure out how much I’m about to put on my credit card. (Disclaimer: **Shop Math** cannot stop you from spending too much on tools or lumber but at least you’ll know before you pick up the pen and sign your life away.)

Developing **Shop Math** has been quite a journey, it was both easier than I thought and more difficult than I hoped. It turns out that getting someone to do the programming and the graphics is not that hard. There are literally thousands of gifted programmers looking for work and even more graphic designers. The hard part is conveying your vision in such a way that your app comes out looking and acting like what you wanted. That took a long time and a lot of trials. I can’t say that **Shop Math** is 100% spot on in terms of my mental image but it’s pretty close. There are some rough edges still and I didn’t put in everything I first had in mind but, things can always be changed and added as you go along. For me, it was finally just time to put it out there and see what other people have to say.

Let me take you around the app and show you what it does:

This is the opening screen, not much to explain here except that “Angles” & “Levels” are actually the same screen. I guess I missed that during the design phase.

This is the basic math **calculator** for all of your general math needs like: If I spend $500 on a new scroll saw I don’t really need can I still afford the lumber for the project I’m supposed to be working on?

Here is one of my two favorite screens – **conversions**. Have you ever picked up a really nice looking plan and then taken a closer look and found it’s all in metrics? Instead of 1/4″ it says 6mm? Guess how I knew that 1/4″ equals 6mm! Yes, **Shop Math** figured it out for me. Just incase you really wanted to know…1/4″ = 6mm, .6350 cm & .0063 meters. I am a math genius at last! You can also convert that 1/4″ into a decimal or vice versa. Slick, huh?

Okay, now we move into one of the scariest of all areas of woodworking math – **FRACTIONS**. Yes, the dreaded fractions, those terrifying moments when you realize that you must subtract 1 1/4″ from your 22 3/8″ board. Your brain starts smoking, the overhead lights overheat, your saw freezes up and worse of all, your pencil breaks! Relax, **Shop Math** has you covered and, (just for demonstration sake) here is the answer to the above calculation 22 3/8″ – 1 1/4″ = 21 1/8 (21.1250) Trust me, I cannot do that in my head!

The **Board Feet Calculator** is pretty straight forward – just enter width in inches, thickness in inches, and length in feet and there you go. Enter the number of boards for total board feet and the price for your total coast. (Less sales tax, shipping and handling, unstocking fees, restocking fees, a bribe for the delivery man, the extra charge to pick your own pieces,etc, etc)

And finally, we come to the **angle and level finder**. I originally considered having just a bubble level but I thought there might be more value in an instrument that read out actual degrees. The first version read out about 6 decimal points but it was impossible to keep it at an even 90.00 so we scaled back to 2 decimals. It still wants to readjust a lot but its much easier to read. My brother in law has since suggested that it also include a plumb bob so we will look at that in future versions.

That wraps it up for **Shop Math** v.1. I really would like your feedback. I know the things I would like to improve but you might think of something I haven’t or think the things I want to improve are fine the way they are. Please let me know. **Shop Math** is currently free although that might change in the future. It is also only available for the iphone, ipod and ipad. Droids will just have to wait

Nice article in ShopNotes (vol 20 issue 120, Nov/Dec 2011). Gee, wish I could find something like this for Windows Mobile. Nice work.

Hi Don, Thanks for leaving a comment here. I would really like to be able to port the app over to Android but it adds a significant cost. Each of these systems has their own programming code, apparently hoping to keep lots of programmers working. Having already put a fair investment into this I’m hoping to reap enough profit to adapt it for Android in the next few months. So, tell all your iPhone/iPod/iPad friends to buy it so we can move ahead. I haven’t really looked into the smaller markets like Windows Mobile and Blackberry yet, but I am certainly open to exploring the idea.

Hello, I don’t have a cell that accepts apps. Can I download your app and use strictly on my computer. thanks, ted

Hi Ted,

I’m sorry but Shop Math won’t work on a desk top, or laptop. Every operating system has it’s own code making it very expensive to create a universal app. I am currently having it coded for the iPad so if you run right out and buy one you could use that:)

Lucy

Shop Math is a complete bust. None of the programs works at all. e.g.

a. the calculator has no “divisor” key.

b. The conversion program gives me only one answer, no matter what fractions I enter: “nan”

c. Fractions: whenever I enter a fraction (say 1 3/4), the screen responds with: “Please enter number only”, and I can go no further.

d. the board feet screen issues wildly inaccurate results. e.g.:

aboard stated as 4″ wide, 3/4″ thick and 6′ long , lists the total board feet as 6. Does that make sense?

e. Finally, I couldn’t make the “leveler” work at all.

This whole program is either a joke or a scam. Please return my money.

Hi Richard, I am sorry you are having problems with Shop Math. I stepped through each of your issues:

a. the calculator has no “divisor” key.The divisor is the “/” below the MC on the right of the keyboard. This is a standard divisor key on calculators. It is, for instance, the same as on the calculator of my PC.b. The conversion program gives me only one answer, no matter what fractions I enter: “nan”I could not duplicate that problem on this version of Shop Math. If you have not upgraded from an earlier version you might want to try that. Upgrades are free.c. Fractions: whenever I enter a fraction (say 1 3/4), the screen responds with: “Please enter number only”, and I can go no further.I think you are entering 1 3/4 in the first box. The fractions screen has a box for each part of the fraction. Enter the “1″in the large box, the “3″ in the top portion of the split boxes and the “4″ in the bottom. This will give you the correct answer.d. the board feet screen issues wildly inaccurate results. e.g.: a board stated as 4″ wide, 3/4″ thick and 6′ long , lists the total board feet as 6. Does that make sense?The Board Foot calculator is configured for “nominal” measurements, as are typically used in woodworking, rather than actual measurements. So, it would expect a 4″ wide by 3/4″ board to be entered as 4″ x 1″ x 6′ which will give you the correct answer of 2BF.e. Finally, I couldn’t make the “leveler” work at all.The level relies on the accelerometer in the phone, this is a very sensitive electronic device used to detect the position of your phone and to control game play. Because the level allows 2 decimal’s of angle i.e. 89.98 as opposed to rounding that off to say 90 it is much more sensitive to slight movement or variation in your phone’s position. If the surface it is sitting on has any vibration at all, even if you can’t detect it, the accelerometer will and it will reflect it in the angle. originally, the level had 4 decimals and it was really hard to look at! Once the phone is on a steady surface the range of movement is less than 1/10 of a degree.I hope this resolves your concerns about Shop Math. If not, you can contact the iTunes app store about a refund.

Lucy

I appreciate your response to my msg, and apologize if my msg seemed a little harsh. But still, the solutions you offered to the problems I described, valid though they may be, would be far more helpful if they were included in a user’s manual for your program. None of them is intuitive, and without your subsequent explanations, “Shop Math” is of no use.

Hi Richard,

Thank you for your feedback. It really isn’t all that easy to develop an app that meets everyone’s idea of intuitive or useful. I do listen to all the feedback I get. In fact, Shop Math has already gone through 3 revisions, each one trying to improve the look and feel of the app, as well as the functionality. I will continue to try to improve and enhance Shop Math. What would be helpful to me are suggestions on how to make it more intuitive. I can’t guarantee that I will implement all suggestions but I will definitely consider them. If you have some thoughts on design improvements please let me know. You can leave suggestions here or email them to me: lucy@woodworkingwithlucy.com

Thanks again,

Lucy

I just bought your fraction calculator. Can I set the denominator to respond in no smaller than 64ths.

In woodworking a smaller number is not practical as you don’t have a useable tape measure smaller than that. For example 7/16 divided by five is 23/80 where do you find that on a ruler? It may be correct but useless.