Measure Twice, Cut Once

Measure Twice, Cut Once

You may have heard the old phrase “measure twice, cut once.”  This tried and true motto applies as much (if not more) today as it did the first time it was spoken.  The idea is to be sure of what you’re doing in order to keep from wasting a valuable or hard earned commodity and to carefully plan your actions.

In years past, industrial lumberman would have to go to great lengths to create a piece of nominal lumber:

  • Chop (or hand saw) a tree down
  • Remove the limbs
  • Split the timber with hammers and wedge
  • Plane or smooth the wood using hand tools
  • Cut the board to specific lengths and widths


At that point the wood was ready to be applied to the purpose it was originally cut for. Click here for an idea of what I am referring to. What I am saying is; that’s a lot of work only to make a mistake in your measurement and have to start all over!  Imagine how many times you would have to do this to produce just one 40 foot roof truss. Thankfully we live in the industrial age, with “smart” saws. Yet the modern application of this phrase is just as relevant, even if it’s not the first consideration.

The modern world we live in is quickly becoming a disposable society.  We seldom have to worry about the consequences of making a mistake; our only consequence is the cost.  If a mistake is made, we just go buy another board and start again. The problem is this: We are losing a way of thinking that ultimately benefits everyone.  That way of thinking can be summarized in one word:  Consideration.

Consideration not only helps the individual become more efficient, productive and cost effective; when applied to other aspects of life it has a very profound effect on the people you come in contact with. When people believe you are considerate of them, that belief may begin to build trust and faith. Simply put, these are cornerstones to good business relationships. I would much rather hire someone whom I believe is trustworthy, than someone whose primary interest was what is best for them regardless of the effect on other parties involved.

After all it’s my money that I am using because I don’t have the time to cut down a tree, remove the limbs, split it, plane the boards, measure, and cut them to build my house. Most of us don’t even have the time or skill to build a house, so we exchange our resources for a skilled professional. We all want to have faith that the skilled professionals we employ to design and build our house will have a “measure twice cut once philosophy.”  Or at least we ASSUME they do.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to use a tape measure! And some just cannot be trusted. A consumer always wants the very best deal, I know I do. Don’t you? Finally, it becomes a quality for cost issue. When faced with two potential paths we almost always want to take the one that is going to cost us less. But does it REALLY cost less? What may appear to cost less in the beginning can and usually does cost more in the end. Simply because everyone needs to make a profit, and everyone wants to spend less, including the person you hire to work for you. Is it more expensive to pay the farmer for quality food? Or the doctor for the sickness low quality foods cause?

Since trust is earned and demonstrated through reviews of others, it behooves the consumer to check into the history of any professional considered for ANY project. It is true that there is not a failsafe method out there. So each of us has to take a leap of faith to some degree or another and employ trust in a reciprocal relationship:

  • The consumer trusts that the professional they hire is capable and honest
  • The professional trusts that the consumer is honest and fair

We all want the person who holds “themselves” to a high standard, whose reputation is more important than the financial gain. We all need our trusty tape measure!

So as a consumer and a professional, it benefits us all to measure twice and cut once. To take the extra minute to ensure you are proceeding in a manner that will ultimately benefit everyone involved. But if all you care about is the cost, then you really can’t complain when the quality isn’t up to par. There is another old phrase you may have head of: “you get what you pay for!” When it comes to measuring what’s best for your business and its customers, measure twice. And don’t be afraid to ask how others measure too.

Be sure that you are using the right tool to measure with. Remember: Your customer ONLY sees the finished product, which, to them, is a direct reflection of you and your company.

Charles Burke – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.