Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Making a Right Angle (the 3-4-5 method)

Not the most exciting graphic, I'll admit, but hear me out.

This fall, when I was marking out a garden plot, I began by just "eyeballing" it. I'm not that picky about garden layout... it's the content more than the appearance that interests me. But, frankly, my original garden layout was pretty skewed and pathetic looking.

I then employed a neat technique that, if you're not familiar with it, I think you'll find the occasional use for. It's a simple nifty little tool to have in your bag of tricks.

You can create a right angle simply by employing the following procedure:
  1. Measuring out two pieces of string or board other item that can be pulled straight and that measure 3 and 4 feet long.
  2. These will be the two "short" legs of your right triangle, so lay them down in as close to a right angle as you can get by just eyeballing them.
  3. Take a third piece of string or board or what have you, and measure it to 5 feet long.
  4. Make this last piece the "long" leg of the triangle. Once you get everything arranged neatly, if your legs are 3, 4, and 5 feet long, you'll have a right angle.
This works because of the pythagorean theorem, which states that the sum of the square of the two short legs equals the square of the long leg (the hypoteneuse). In other words, (3x3) + (4x4) = (5x5).

Sure enough, 9 + 16 does equal 25.

This will work with multiples of 3, 4, and 5, so if lengths of 6, 8, and 10 feet suit your purposes better, just double everything. I personally find the shorter lengths to be easier to work with, and they're long enough to create a reasonably right angle - easily square enough for a garden plot!


At 1:48 AM, Blogger Keith Angler said...

Great and now how far along are we to joining the Masons Lodge?

Yes that is the best simple example that even my kids can see and learn from. Nicely said.

Keith <"><

At 8:37 AM, Anonymous RDTocki said...

Thank you for this information, I'm trying to plot out the post positions for a gazebo and the plans indicated to use the 3-4-5 method to do so. I had a feeling your response was the answer, but wasn't sure, you've confirmed my thoughts, thank you.

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