Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 12/17/98

BY James E. Keehan, M.D.

In order to make this highly technical topic more comfortable to read, I have eliminated any and all graphs and mathematical formulas.

Before I hurry into the subject matter, let me acknowledge that my wood working friend "Bubber" fostered my interest in this small but valuable and all but imperceptical measurement.

Lest you think this is not a measurement worthy of discussion,
let me remind you that without it...

  • Disney could never have come up with: "It's a small, small world".
  • Well -------- if per chance you don't know what a smidgen is --
  • A smidgen is an integrated, digital concept with total incremental flexibility.

Perhaps you feel that smidgens are not part of your vocabulary...


Whenever you've thought of a systematical logistical contingency which is compatible with a reciprocal capacity...you...whether you knew it or not, were thinking in smidgens.

Looking it up in the dictionary won't be of any help.

In order to save your rushing to the library...let me advise you as to what you will find.

For openers:

  • it's origin is unknown.
  • Webster's mistakenly believes a smidgen to be:
  • a bit or particle.

The inaccuracy of this information is OBVIOUS to any and all persons with even minimal mathematical skills....


A smidgen doesn't relate to anything as inaccurate as a 'bit" or "particle".

Let me remind you that a smidgen is: (and it would be prudent to underline this)....

A very precise measurement which embodies a variable concept of an approximation bordering on an accurate dimension.

In order to appreciate the essence of a smidgen.... let me advise you:

You must be able to appreciate and comprehend the concept of an exact variable...

which is actually an inconsistent constant....

And a non-definable finite measurement whose variability and inconsistency...


From a practical point of view please be advised:

that if you are going to work with smidgens....

  • Quality tools are a must!
  • The $19.00 special just won't hack it.

As you know, smidgens can be either positive or negative,

Therefore you can use them in measuring either:
long or short boards.

Smidgens are best known for their ability to express the concept of size and dimensions to a degree of precision...

not available to other instruments such a a gnats hair or shadow.

The practical application of smidgens can be illustrated by:

  • It's 13 3/4"+ a little line - a smidgen.
  • It's 3 1/2"+ a shadow - a smidgen.

It's comforting to know that smidgens come in both English and metric sizes.

Smidgens are finite and cannot be subdivided!,

e.g. you can't have.... 13/64th of a smidgen.

Please bear in mind that the accuracy of a smidgen is directly proportional to the operators expertise in precision measurement of precise inaccuracies.

N.B. dedicated to those of us who insist on precision work.

James E. Keehan, M.D.

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