No, I am not at the Woodworking In America conference being held outside Chicago. I just read Christopher Schwarz 's blog about the event and more specifically, his attendance of Jim Tolpin's lecture.

Chris's Blog Link

It is an interesting discussion about Jim's take on how design is more numbers driven with machine work while hand work design can be more "organic".

Much of what is in Chris's blog I heard directly from Jim at one of his classes. Probably the biggest thing I came away from his class was to make dimensional decisions (or design decisions) based not on any number, but using the tool itself to determine the sizing. For example using your chisel to determine the size of your mortise and tenons. Nothing earth shattering in that, as craftsmen have been doing that for years, but he demonstrated that it was faster and more accurate to use the tool itself to transfer the measurement (using your marking gauge or calipers). In fact, he does not recommend using a rule or tape measure at all. He is a very strong believer in using story sticks to transfer all measurements. I have incorporated much of this in my own approach to woodworking.

Chris's blog talks about Jim taking design measurements directly from the human body. Check it out.