Imperial Input - Those pesky imperials



TL;DR what’s the most efficient way to input imperial measurements?

After living in the bliss of the metric system for the vast majority of my career I now live in Canada. Yes, it’s supposed to be metric but that’s all a lie. The construction industry here is still stuck in the dark ages and I have a big project coming up.

So, with SketchUp in metric (mm) I cruise around modeling away happily, left hand on 3D mouse or shortcuts and right hand smashing mm numbers into the VCB. Great. When it comes to imperial my hand has to use Shift+’ to get the inches and type a load of ’ and " and / everywhere. It really jars my buzz… man!

How do you do it? Should I learn decimal inches? (that concept itself is totally nuts!)


Why not just change the Units to Architectural or Fractional? Then inches are understood and feet are just a ’ away.

I use decimal inches for common dimensions and with practice, I’ve found I’ve memorized more decimal fractions than I used to know.


Ya; I’ve been using fractional units, but the difference between typing some numbers in mm and inches is tedious, 0000mm vs 00’11 2/3" … you know what I mean!

So you use decimal inches and just convert them from fractions in your head? Maybe I should print out a conversion table and stick it to my monitor!


If you set the units to Architectural or Fractional, you only need to type 11 2/3. No units entry required. (Do those Canucklians work in thirds of an inch? :smiley: ) For something over a foot you can either type it all as inches, i.e. 34, or you can type it as 2’10. No spaces required and no inches because they are implied.

Then for the few metric dimensions you can type mm, cm, or m as needed.

Mostly yes. If I’m not sure what the decimal equivalent is, I use the fraction. I can work the number keypad on my keyboard without looking at it so it’s quicker to enter decimal equivalents if I can.

That’s not a bad idea. You’ll get so you know most of the commonly used ones in short order.


As a Canadian woodworker I use feet and inches just for contracts but switch to mm in the work shop. Since I support plugins I support fractional inches, decimal inches and mm.

Best example is laying out curved stringers for stair cases. Say we are using 5/8" plywood, 2 X 12 floor joists and standard 2 X 4 studs. This works out to a total rise of 9’ 1 1/4" which is 2774.95 mm

You want a 15 riser stair which works out to 185 mm. or 7 9/32"

Laying out risers in mm is easy. In inches it is a headache.


Inches are indeed a pain in the rear.

Good advice from @DaveR though… I’ll have to do a table on a spreadsheet and learn it!

Where are you @gkernan?


I’m In Kamloops BC Canada


And practice your mental math. Quick! What’s half of 3-7/16? :smiley:


4.365625cm, obviously :thinking:


Why, one and a half and 7/32nds


You guys are doing Jason’s school work! :smiley:



Who came up with this insane system anyway?

Don’t start quoting classical architecture at me…

*goes off in a hurumph


Some crazy emperor? What else would the word “Imperial” mean in this context…


And perpetuated buy USA software companies

Have a look at the default metric paper sizes in Microsoft Powerpoint

Been like that for over 20 years


And the base unit of measure in Sketchup

1" - try and convert an imperial coded dynamic component into metric :slight_smile:


And the base unit of measure in Sketchup

1" - try and convert an imperial coded dynamic component into metric :slight_smile:

didn’t a metric <> Imperial glitch cost dimension error cost NASA $300 Million?


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