Fun with rulers!


Well-Known Member
Hi guys and gals! Happy Monday!
Boy, you are gonna laugh at me - well, maybe with me. I bought the thingie in the pix a few years back. While I was starting to get my center points for bench work and major curves done I found that my previous measurements were not measuring up to what I did when I spec'd the railroad room. Come to find out there are different scales on each side of the tape. One side is 12 inches to the foot with 1/8in minor increments as you might expect, while the other is 10 divisions to a foot with 1/10 minor increments. You can see the 1 ft mark right after the 9 mark on the yellow side of the tape. Didn't even dawn on me while using it earlier. I went back and re-measured after I found this out and got lucky - happened to use the correct side of the thing. My calculations from Cartesian to Polar end up with 1/10 of feet ( I.E. 25.5ft vs 25ft 6in ) so all is well - if I use the correct side of the tape. Nothing earth shattering, just thought that ya might get a giggle out of it.

Oh don't fret, you wouldn't believe the number of times I've measured things working on bench work or other wood projects, made the cut, and then discovered something in my measurements was off.

But my most recent similar experience was about a year ago. I help out with a work-related organization doing minor communications and outreach stuff, such as designing and ordering promo items like pens, stickers, etc. We were about to place an order for 1000+ pins that could be worn as a lapel pin or on our uniform. I also wanted the pin back to be long enough to be used as a tie tac, since we have to wear ties at work. I grabbed the ruler I always keep in my desk at home, and measured a few pins I had and determined how long I wanted the pin to be.

In my specifications, I told the vendor I wanted pins with a pin back at least 3/4" long.

The vendor came back with a response that I'll paraphrase as, "Umm....we can do pins up to about 3/8" long."

I pulled out my ruler and realized I was using the wrong edge. Can you imagine a tie tac 3/4" long? It would go thru your tie and into your chest at that point.
A (at the time) major manufacturing facility which made boilers and other pressure vessels had to fabricate a vessel that was longer than the longest available sheet of plate steel. They welded an additional piece to the end of the first and then cut off the additional piece...only to find they had measured wrong, and the whole thing was too short. So they welded another piece on, cut it off, and discovered they had cut it too short again! :rolleyes:
I took a drafting class while in junior high school. One of the points of measuring that we learned was to measure from the 1" mark on a ruler instead of from the very end. This was to ensure the measurement was accurate because the end of the ruler may be worn away a little bit. I still do that today, measure from the 1" mark then be sure the number I am measuring to is one more on the ruler or tape than I actually need.
Not me, but a fellow manager at the company that I worked for was drawing up plans for a building extension to install a new piece of machinery. All of the upper management including our engineering department signed off on it and construction/excavation for the foundation began. The maintenance manager and I, who were both left out of the project due to someones ego, looked at the plan that the contractor had and the first thing that stood out to us was that he failed to allow clearance between a wall and the aluminum extruder (which was around 65 tons) to provide access to the other side. We pointed it out and construction halted while the plan was revised to add six additional feet for forklift access.
Great stories!
I usually measure from the left to the right because most tape measures roll out that way. (Yup most tape measures are left handed)
But being right handed I’ll often go from the right to the left which puts the numbers upside down in which case I tend to read from the higher number down.
Better to cut too big than too small I suppose!