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Use a lot of W Shapes? Here's something useful!

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I "discovered" an interesting conversion factor today.

Let's say you are at a meeting or on a jobsite and need to know the area
of a W shape  - and the battery in your cell phone is dead and all the
phone lines in the office where you are meeting are cut, and no one else
has a cell phone - so you can't call back to your office to have someone
look up the area in their brand new 3rd Edition AISC Steel Manual.  All
you have to do is take the weight of the W Shape (pounds) and divide by
3.4 and "presto" - your area (in square inches).

Try it out on a couple of W Shapes - it's darn near pretty close to

(This conversion factor also works if you are sitting in your cubicle in
work and are just too lazy to reach for your book.)

I'm sure someone must have previously noticed this short-cut, but I'm
surprised that I never heard it mentioned anywhere.

Cliff Schwinger

(If anyone finds this equation useful - feel free to send me as much
money as you'd like - small unmarked bills preferred.  <---That was a

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