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Engineer Rulers

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Engineer rulers are must-have tools for drafters, architects, and engineers. Unlike conventional measuring tools, these aren't used for measuring distances. Instead, they measure ratios between lines in a diagram and lengths in real-world objects. Rulers of this type may be adjustable or three-sided, with a different aspect ratio on each edge. Switching between ratios allows for drafting large structural components or rendering tiny details. Most interval markers end an inch short of each edge, so the end hatch marks never wear away. Staples carries a wide variety of measuring devices including protractors, yard sticks, and more.

Choose Engineer Rulers With the Right Ratio
Which ratio you need is the first thing to consider. Standard rulers offer ratios from 1:10 to 1:60, with decimal intervals between the extremes. Use the 1:60 scale for drafting the components of large structures, such as automobile frames and machine components, and then flip to the much smaller 1:10 scale for detail work that's ideal for watch components, small gears and electronic circuit diagrams.

Architect rulers are a subset with a slightly different design and modified aspect ratios. Instead of stopping at 1:60, they typically run up as high as 1:125, to better handle the greater size of buildings that architects work with.

Variations of Engineer Rulers
Different drafting tools call for variations on the basic engineer ruler configuration. Those with straight edges, for example, are acceptable for most drafting jobs, especially when using a pencil. When using a technical pen, however, be sure to get one with a grooved edge to prevent ink spreading out from the line you've drawn.

Another factor to consider is the material you're comfortable using. In the past, most engineer rulers were made from solid hardwood that didn't easily warp or chip. Later models use solid but lightweight materials such as aluminum. Metal rulers are especially reliable, but low-cost alternatives made from polystyrene are nearly as good for most purposes.

Special Features of Some Engineer Rulers
Unlike mesuring tape, many engineer rulers have optional features that can significantly enhance their use. One such feature is a clear plastic strip that runs down the middle of the tool and acts as a magnifier. Slide the ruler over a ray you've drawn to get an enlarged view of how angles intersect or whether you have truly straight lines.

Colored tabs on the edges are another helpful feature many engineer rulers have. Triangular-shaped rulers have three extensions from the center line with a different ratio etched into each side. Little colored spots near the edge tell users at a glance which ratio they are working with, reducing mistakes and preventing them from drafting a line that's out of scale with the rest of the blueprint.

What Is an Engineer's Scale?
Engineer's scale is an industry term that refers to any tool for measuring distances and line ratios. Engineer rulers fall into this larger category, along with a few miscellaneous other common tools.

What Is the Scale of Engineer Rulers?
Rulers intended for general engineering applications often have ratios of 1:10, 1:20, 1:30, 1:40, 1:50, and 1:60. Specialized options may have larger or smaller scales, such as the common 1:125 scale architects use.

How Is an Engineer's Ruler Used?
Lay the ruler down over a drafting paper. If you're examining a diagram, measure distances and multiply by whatever the ratio is. If you're drafting, you can draw a line from one point to another and be confident all of the lines drawn with a single edge are on the same scale.
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General® 6 in (L) SS 16ths Inch Flexible Precision Ruler, 15/32 in (W)
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Westcott® School Ruler, 12", 36/Box
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Calculated Industries Wheel Master Pro 12" Measuring Wheel
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