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Several readers have encouraged me to take a look at the OXO 16″ folding ruler, which is an inexpensive aluminum recreation of the classic 19th-century folding ruler. Also good: When you open up the ruler, its hinge tightens up, nearly locking the two arms in the open position.
And finally, while I love the hole through the circular hinge, I wonder how long it will hold tight. Chris is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking Magazine and the publisher at Lost Art Press.
I would offer two tips for people hunting for their first wooden folding rule in the antique shops. Christopher Schwarz has helped many of us solve some pretty frustrating problems over the years.
In some ways, it’s a faithful interpretation of the folding ruler that every woodworker once used. The ruler is substantially straight (don’t go checking handplane soles with it, however), and draws a nice straight line when open. I wouldn’t set my table saw with the tool, but it could work like a bevel gauge in a pinch. First, make certain that the rule folds up flat, because many old rules have warped with time because of being stored in bad places.
The two arms of the ruler swivel on a round hinge; when closed, the arms are held in alignment by a small steel pin. And I also like the fact that there is a hole bored through the hinge, which makes it easy to hang the tool on a nail. However, with an old-school ruler, the fix is simple: You just peen the rivet that connects the rulers arms.
Second, it is worth looking for a ruler with big bold numbers, like one of the two wooden rules in your photograph.
It is known as a blind man’s rule for obvious reasons and is much more legible than any rule I have seen in metal.
If you want to actually mark your work with this ruler, you have to rock the ruler forward.
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