Another one of Lee Valley’s free shipping promos ended recently. They hold these promos a couple of times each year, and there’s a $40 minimum to get free shipping.
As usual, I ordered a couple of random tools and odds and ends this time around, including the recently discussed Pocket Wrench. One of the other tools I ordered was a folding ruler.
It’s been a long time since I’ve used a folding ruler. There are benefits to folding rulers, mainly as complements to tape measures. Folding rulers don’t twist, although they can flex if you want them to, and they stay put a lot easier than many tape measures do.
Over at Lee Valley, they carry Swiss-made LongLife folding rulers in 1 meter (~39-1/4″) and 2 meter lengths. I bought the 1m version, which has metric and inch markings. The 2m version that they carry only has metric markings.
Both folding rulers have spring-action pivots, and the 2m ruler has a sliding extension that’s useful for inside measurements. The 1m ruler is ~5″ long, and the 2m ruler is ~9″ long.
I bought the 1m folding ruler for two reasons. First, it’s pocket sized. Having one in my hand as I write this, I can confirm that it is indeed quite small. This would be a great ruler to toss into your pocket, a tool bag, a work bag, or urban exploration bag (aka your man purse).
The 1m folding ruler feels smaller than a tape measure, but if you anticipating needing to measure anything longer than 3 feet, you might be better off with a compact tape, such as the 10′ Komelon tape mentioned in our 5 essential tools for college students guide. That Komelon is $9-10 via Amazon.
I love that IKEA supplies shoppers with ~1m paper tapes around the store. They can be useful, and I wish other stores did this too. Heck, there are times when I wish I had a ruler at the supermarket.
For example, I recently bought a kitchen bin that was advertised as being 6″ wide. I wanted to keep it on the kitchen counter to keep formula bottles in, for easier access. Those bottles are 5-1/2″ tall, and so I figured they’d fit. Wrong. The “6-inch” bin has tapered sides and cannot fit the bottles. If I had a ruler with me at the supermarket, I would have known the bottles wouldn’t fit.
While I wish I could say I travel everywhere with a tape measure, I don’t. It’s simply impractical to carry a large tape “just in case.” I have a couple of small Stanley tapes, but they pretty much suck. They’re okay in a pinch, but are too small and flimsy to be of regular practical use. One of these days I’ll buy the small circular 10′ Komelon tape.
Second, these rulers are only $6 each. That’s not a lot of money for something as useful as this. That’s for the 1m size; 2m rulers are $12.50. At $6, these rulers are a real bargain, especially for something that’s made in Switzerland. I’m pretty pleased with the quality so far and might buy another to keep in the car or travel bag.
I DEFINITELY recommend these rulers. Next time Lee Valley has a free shipping promo, I’ll probably even buy a couple extra to send around as gifts.
Buy Now(via Lee Valley)
Buy Now(via Amazon)
It slipped from my memory, but a former ToolGuyd contributor reviewed something quite similar 4-1/2 years ago. Jeff reviewed a Wiha MaxiFlex version of this folding ruler. Wiha offers additional models beyond the two that Lee Valley carries.
When I started working, folding rulers were more common on jobsites – with carpenters and bricklayers – than they are today. Over the last 50 years I’ve managed to collect 9 folding rulers – all Lufkin:
524 DOYLE LOG SCALE FOLDING RULER
626 PLUMBER’S FOLDING RULER
636 BRICKLAYER’S RULER
646 MODULAR BLOCK RULER
656 BRICKLAYER’S RULER – OVERSIZED
1066D ENGINEER’S FOLDING RULER
X46 CARPENTER’S FOLDING RULER
1066DM ENGINEER’S FOLDING RULER
X48 CARPENTER’S FOLDING RULER
Something I have always wondered – doesn’t the stagger of the ruler (it doesn’t lay flat) cause inaccuracy? Some of the marks are a full 1/2″ from the workpiece on most of the folding rules I have seen.
Turn it so it rests on its edge if you need more accuracy, not that these rulers are that accurate anyway.
I bought one of the 2 m ones from my local tool shop recently, its very nice but it was quite expensive.
Turning it on its side still doesn’t account for the non-linearity created by the staggered sections. I suppose it matters less if you’re measuring a length needed and the cut workpiece with the same device. I’ll still stick with tape measures and aluminum rulers myself.
I know it’s not practical to always have a tape measure on you. However, you can throw one in the trunk and you’ll always have it if you’ve driven somewhere and find you need it. You keep a bunch of “just in case” hand tools in the car for emergencies; why not a tape measure, too? Or a tailor’s cloth tape?
I am not a fan of these. I much prefer a tape measure or a steel rule.
I find them easier to use and easier to get an accurate mark. On site I keep a 2m Stanley keyring tape in my pocket for those times when I am on a ladder, in a roof cavity etc and don’t want the bulk of an 8m tape in my pocket.
At home for finer work, I think you cant go past a selection of steel rules, other than that its the good old tape measure for this old fella!
I carry a Stanley ½” X 12′ tape with me. It is small and convenient to use. I haven’t used a folding tape in over thirty years.
My father-in-law (a former electrician) always keeps a folding ruler in his tool bag. I find they general will get the job done, but I prefer a tape.
Unless I’m mistaken, it’s to my understanding that trade schools, union apprenticeships, and whatnot train electricians and pipefitters with all sorts of nifty tricks one can do with a pocket rule.
They’re way less fiddly than tape in overhead applications, which is why they still sell in numbers at professional tool shops. They may also be a requirement for some companies and unions.
Darn, I nearly got one of these last time they had free shipping. I wanted one in metric, so next time they do free shipping, I’ll get it. The small version looks handy, too.
One thing about the Wiha versions is that they don’t appear to have an extendable probe. I use this on my imperial folding rule all the time. I would only buy one unless it had this feature. It comes in handy all the time. For measuring depths and inside frames, etc. The extendable probe is the reason I got a folding rule in the first place.
Here’s a great EDC tape measure that won’t take-up space in your pocket: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000QV1L1U?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage
It’s in my EDC bag (very small laptop bag) and has come in very handy- and can also measure circumfrence/around corners. Only 5 feet though.