We’ve been making a lot of stars lately. Hundreds and hundreds of stars; which is awesome because someone is paying us to make stuff! How much cooler of a job can you have? But, as we’re making hundreds at a time, it’s best to be efficient at it.
So the stars are laid out on the wood before cutting (no, even though I’ve cut more than a thousand stars, I can’t cut them from memory). So I laid out a few stars and then measured to see how many stars would fit onto so many feet of board. It’s something like a word problem:
Don has to make 100 stars. If 7 stars fit onto 1.8 feet of maple board, how many feet of board will he need to make 100 stars? (assuming no knots or other defects in the wood that would have to be cut out)
Except there’s no calculator in the shop – only old fashioned long-hand math.
I also figured up how many square inches of wood each star used – this told me my raw materiel cost for each piece.
So yes, math is important. I don’t use calculus in the shop very often, but geometry and algebra are very important. Kids! Pay attention in math class! Don’t end up being the person that needs a calculator to double check his 7 + 7 math.
As a side-diversion:
Before I made toys, I was an architect (technically I still am, I just haven’t done any for-hire work in a while now). The number one response when telling a stranger I’m architect: “You must be good at math.”
Well, I am good at math, I think it’s fun – like solving a puzzle – but surprisingly to most people great math skills aren’t essential to architecture. Basic geometry and a little algebra is all you really need to be competent. A high-schooler would be able to handle most of the math work.
So what’s the number one skill essential to being an architect? Working an unspeakable number of thankless (and unpaid) hours.
As a toy-maker at Happy Bungalow I work more hours, but they are the opposite of thankless. I have fun every day, almost without pause. I mean come on! We’re making toys here. My job is to make toys!
Stop into our online toy shop to take home some of our work.