Sep 14 2012
One of the most important tools in a woodworkers design arsenal is the Golden Ratio. It is the ratio that balances the long sides of rectangles, with the short side of rectangles, and as a ratio it can be used for either interchangeably as long as one leg length is known.
The Golden Ratio , or Phi as it is commonly called is a ratio that is described as:
Phi= 1 + the square root of 5 over 2. (approximately the ratio of 1 : 1.618)
It has been used in design work going back some 2,400 years. It is still commonly used today for design in Architecture, Engineering, Furniture, Art, Publishing, even Web Design. It has even been found in Nature. If you would like to know more, the Wikipedia Article on the Golden Ratio is very good. A search engine will turn up even more information.
There are tools available, made of various different sizes to aid woodworkers with the task of physically scaling the Golden Ratio to their creations, but I find that I prefer the mathematical calculation, and applying the numbers directly to the ruler. It’s clean, and utilizes the basic layout tooling most woodworkers have.
In an effort to make woodworking with the golden ratio easier for us all, so we can make our calculations and get back to the fun part of designing and building, I have added a Golden Ratio Calculator to our website that is optimized for woodworking and other craft work. The conversions it is capable of are made not only to the decimal quantity, but are also rounded to the nearest fraction for your tape measure.
A nice perk of this calculator is that you can define to which nearest fraction you would prefer it to round. The calculator is preloaded with a number so you can study it and understand how the numbers it processes will interrelate. You can click into the text boxes on the calculator and load your own dimensions, and then click out of the box. When you click out of the box, it performs the calculation. Really simple.
Give it a try! It’s easy and fun!
I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts.
Please consider this calculator as but one tool in the designer’s arsenal. One tool of what is and should be several to many. In other words, the more we learn, the more tools we have, and the more control over any design we have. There are plenty of mathematicians and designers who argue the viability of every theory. You will find arguments about this all over the internet. Personally, I’d not reccomend over-thinking it too much. This theory has it’s arguers, but that does not interrupt it’s usability. It is always your choice, and in every case, it is worth evaluating anything’s usability. Call it troubleshooting if you like.
This ratio is usable for design, but keep it in moderation. Use it when you can’t find plans and want to design something for a space that fits the space and yet will look good proportionally. Use it if and when it makes sense, or when you want to. There are other ways to find attractive proportions, and this is but one of them, but it will begin you remove the chains that bind a design when you don’t want to work from someone else’s plans. No one thing will appeal to all people.
In all, this calculator is simple, and it gives you real world fractional numbers that are representative of this ratio. You can go right to work with from the ruler or tape measure you have. This is a tool you can use, or not, your choice.
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