Nonstandard Measurements

Axe Handles

The old man couldn't read a tape-measure, but he had notches and marks on his axe handle.

His most common measurement was the length of the handle that was 24" or 2' long.

If he needed a log 24', how many axe handles is that?
A 30' log?
A 16' log?

Nonstandard Measurements
A hand is 4"

Nonstandard Measurements
A hand plus the thumb is 6"

Nonstandard Measurements
A hand span is 8"

Nonstandard Measurementsstandard
height of
sled cross


Hand measurements:

Measure your hand and see how close it comes to these measurements. Measure a doorframe, piece of plywood etc. with hand measurements and then measure with a tape measure. See how close the hand measurements come. Can you combine these to make 10"? 12," 16" etc?

To this day, horses are measured in ìhands." A horse over 14 hands is a true horse. One smaller than 14 hands is a pony. If a hand is 4," how tall is a horse 15 hands? A pony 13 hands? A horse 14.5 hands?

Fathoms and net length

Nets are measured in fathoms. A fathom is supposedly the length of a man's outstretched arms.

One fathom equals 6'.

How long is a 150 fm net?
How long is a 350fm net?
How long is a 20 fm net?

How many fms is a 150' net?
How many fms is a 250' net?
How many fms is a 100' net?

Nonstandard Measurements

To measure the length of mesh needed to hang a net, hangers figure double the length of the net.

That is, a 200' net will use 400' of stretched mesh, a 150fm net will hang 300 fm of mesh.

How many fms or feet of stretched mesh will the following nets require?

240 fm?

325 fm?



Nonstandard MeasurementsAtlatl. According to hunters in the Y/K Delta, the traditional measurement for an atlatl was from the elbow to the fist.

How long on you is this measurement in inches and centimeters?


Later, when larger boats came on the scene, and hunters could stand up in the front of the boat, the atlatl was lengthened to go from the elbow to the first knuckle. How long on you is this mea-surement in inches and centimeters?
Nonstandard Measurements
Nonstandard Measurements

This is similar to the Western measurement of a cubit, which was from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. The length of the traditional spear was from the elboe to the finger tip. How long is this measurement on you in inches and centimeters?

Nonstandard Measurements

Return to Village Math