Schaedler precision rules

Friday 21 September 2007

When cubicle workers vacate a cube, they often leave behind trivial office supplies in the desk drawers: push pins, post-its, undesirable mugs, and so on. I’m an inveterate explorer of my surroundings, so I’ve seen plenty of this sort of detritus. Once though, in a cubicle farm long ago, I found a real treasure.

It was a ruler, printed on flexible translucent plastic, with very fine gradations. The design was clean and modern, both utilitarian and beautiful. I kept the ruler, and when the time came at Tabblo to get the precise details right about our printed products, it was invaluable. By now, it was scratched and dinged, but it held up to the years of neglect and abuse, and still was the best ruler I owned.

As much as I liked the ruler, I never much thought about where it came from. But when our graphic designer showed up at the office, and pulled out an identical though much newer ruler, I knew that I was not the only one who thought highly of them.

The ruler is a Schaedler Precision Rule, and they are still made. They are expensive, but worth it.

And if their status in the graphic designers’ world is in doubt, know that in some eyes, they have risen from humble tool to the center of attention: How to: Turn a Schaedler Precision Rule into a bracelet (scroll to near the end).


When my wife asks for a ruler, if I hander her one which is not one of the many Schaedler rulers, she will hit me over the head with it. The message being, if it were the correct ruler, it would not have hurt ;-)

The only time she did not do this was when we were first dating, and I handed her my 4" tri-scale galvanized engineering ruler (which can double as a pointy billy club).

Graphic designers can be more touchy about their tools than programmers about their editors.

(If anyone knows where I can find another galvanized tri-scale, I would greatly appreciate it. All I can find are plastic.)
I feel sorry for programmers. No matter what you are creating, the work environment is just a room full of computers. If a relatively nice ruler is enough to get you all excited, you really need better tools. In my workshop, we've got saws, sanders, planers, presses - all kinds of big, dangerous machines. Everything we do is noisy and creates lots of dirt and dust. When we're making something, you can by golly tell for sure that it's being MADE.

Paul Downs
Paul: don't feel sorry for us. Though our environment can be quite sterile, it can also be really flexible (I can work on my porch, in a Starbucks, in a doctor's waiting room, etc, if I want to). Also, while I would like the concrete feel of creating physical objects, we get the benefit of having our products used by thousands or even millions of people around the world.

So I guess there are pros and cons on both sides...

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