Question

Dear Mitch,

I invented something that's kind of like the thing I've seen that your website used to sell. I mean the thing called 'perfect out'. To be honest mine is inspired by your invention, but it's also different too, so I hope you don't mind. So anyway I showed it to a couple of grownups in construction, that my father knows, and one of them said I should make it square instead of rectangular because then it will be "only one cut instead of two".

What does that mean?

Wouldn't a rectangle and a square both be four cuts, one for each side?

Dan B.

Answer

Dear Dan,

First, congratulations on your invention, whatever it is! I certainly don't mind a bit if you were inspired by anything of mine, in fact I'm honored, because that's how new ideas often come about, one inspired by another! In that way, all inventors and thinkers work together to produce more and more helpful things, which is the process we call "progress". At the same time, you are also wise to keep the details of your invention secret for now, so that you do get the credit and rewards you deserve for your time and creativity.

To answer your question, I'm not exactly sure what that builder meant by "only one cut instead of two", but I *think* I know, and, although I haven't thought about it in a long time, I think I may have heard the exact same phrase from someone at the time I was showing my own invention, "Perfect-Out", to potential builders.

Here's what I think was meant: When someone is actually building your product, they have to think about how it can be done in the least amount of time and with the least amount of mistakes and wastage when they are building thousands at a time (if you're lucky, and it becomes popular!). This is called efficiency, by the way. So, if a giant board has to be cut into smaller ones to make your product, then the large table-saws they use would only have to be set once, for a square, instead of twice for a rectangle that is not a square. (Readers, recall that **all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares**, as a **square is a special kind of rectangle, one with all four sides the same length. A rectangle is any quadrilateral with four right angles. A quadrilateral just means a four-sided figure, and includes the rhombus, which is four-sided, all equal length, but not necesarily any right angles, like if you had a square box with no bottom or top, and it was sitting on one of its sides, and a slight wind blew, that wind might 'unsquare' the angles, but all four sides of the box would be the same length, so the box would no longer have a square edge, but it would still be a rhombus **). Anyway, since a square has the same size for its 'length' as it does for its 'width', a board can be brought through a table-saw one way, which would cut it into a long, narrow board that is as wide as your square, and then that long, narrow board can be sent through the cutter the other way, and one square at a time would be cut off of it without the person doing the cutting having to set a new distance between the blade and that little metal wall that is set to guide the edge of the wood you are cutting.

So, in a nutshell, as they say, a shape that has the same measurement for each of its edges only requires the cutter to make one **measurement when setting up his equipment.** Though,** **you are right in thinking that it is still four cuts all together to make a square. ** The difference is that there is only one measurement, and not two different measurements,** as any rectangle that is not a square would require two different measurements, and each measurement has to be set up separately on a table saw.

I hope this helps,

Mitch