Rulers For the Home Doer


I suggest a 25' x 1" wide steel tape as a do-it-yourselfer's first and basic ruler.  The Stanley model 30-825 Leverlock is probably a good choice.   Update:  I've recently bought a Lufkin CS8525 Control Series Power Tape.  There are reasons to believe it's a little more versatile but it's more expensive and you'll do fine with the Leverlock.  UPDATE: I've put the Lufkin aside for special uses.  It's pinched my hand multiple times, so I've go back to the Stanly Leverlock.



Probably the second tape you want to buy is a 100 footer.  You won't use it often, but when you need it, you need it.  Mine's a Stanley model 34-500.  It's nothing special, but it gets the job done.

I use a pair of calipers almost as much as my 25' steel tape.  They're very convenient for measuring smaller (less that 5 inches) objects quite accurately.  Mine's low-midrange quality.  I was given mine 40 years ago, or I probably wouldn't have bought it and never realized how useful they are.  Cheap ones ($5-$15) will do routine jobs adequately.  Good ones are expensive ($50-$200).  I now have an expensive pair, but I rarely use it.  It's less convenient to read. Instead of giving the size in inches and fractions of an inch (e.g., 3 5/8") it gives the answer in decimal inches.  Who remembers that .4375 is 7/16" inch?  And, it you have to change the battery.


Now For the Real Reason I'm Writing This Article

I chose the title of the article because I only do homespun fix-up projects, and don't know if these next gadgets would be efficient for people who do this stuff constantly, but now that I've discovered them, I won't do a job without them.  They're quilting rulers.  My wife is an obsessive quilter (an illness), and when she saw me trying to measure an outline on the side of a 2x6 she said, "Move over, let me show you how to do that;" and plopped one of these on the board and had it done perfectly in no time.  I haven't been without this hand-me-down since.  She won't let me use her rulers because I scratch them up.  (By the way, NEVER EVER use a quilter's scissors!!  Rumor is, that's the real reason Ms Bobbit bobbed it.)  

I consider the 6x12 incher the most versatile size.  I suggest you get it first and see if you find it as useful as I do.  The 6x24 is the next most useful, on occasion the 12x12 is good to use to see if something's square, but these last two are large and hard to store.  They do have holes in them, and I hang the big ones on screws on the inside of a cabinet door.

My wife organizes her collection this way:  

I have trouble finding the right words to explain why they're so great.  You almost have to use one for a while to learn all the ways it helps.  One big thing, they're clear, so you can align them with any edge or mark or line beneath it.  For example, if you want to mark a line at 3 and 5/8" from the edge of a board, looking through the ruler, align the edge of the board with the 3 5/8 line then mark along the end.  It's perfectly square so you can align one edge with the edge of anything.  The yellow lines are easy to see.  You can use the edge as a straight edge to run a pencil along for a straight line.  If you're very careful you can run a utility knife down the edge to cut things like cardboard.  I do this sometimes, but I don't recommend it.  If the knife cuts into the edge of the plastic you'll have to buy a new one (or have an unsmooth, unstraight edge, which destroys much of its usefulness).  

You can find these things at quilt shops, and most fabric stores, including their Internet equivalents like these:

Nancy's Notions  -- I've never met Nancy, but she seems so nice on TV I'd probably buy from her.

Also at Joann, Hobby Lobby and Amazon  (You may be able to get a discount coupon for Joann's here, or for Hobby Lobby here. )

They're a little pricey, but not bad.

My wife uses Omnigrip exclusively.  I'm sure there are other brands, but I have no experience with them.  

Main Page