In the history of measuring equipment, there is one blunder so awful that it makes me twitter (old-school twitter) like a smack-addled squirrel every time I encounter it.
It’s a 6″ steel rule that I acquired in 1997. The numbers are engraved and filled in. The markings are nice and fine. And there are four scales: eighths, sixteenths, thirty-seconds and sixty-fourths.
What’s not to like?
Well, the rule doesn’t start on zero. Nor does it end at 6″. The rule is actually 6-3/4″ long and has about 3/8″ of blank steel at both the end and the beginning. To add insult to idiocy, it actually looks like the first mark starts at 1/8″ because the 1/8″ is actually printed under what is supposed to be zero.
Who would commit such a crime against the legacy of Pharaoh Djoser?
We would, actually. When I started work here in 1996 we owned a magazine called Woodworker, which we were closing down. As the powers that be were trying to save the struggling magazine, they came up with all manner of ideas to get more subscribers.
One of their great ideas was to give away a 6″ rule as a reward for subscribing. And this is what the marketing department came up with. Is it any wonder that the magazine folded?
After Woodworker closed, we had hundreds of these rules in the warehouse and tried to pawn them off on the unsuspecting public every year when we had a warehouse sale to get rid of damaged, overstocked or returned books. In 1996 we sold the rules for $1 each. The next year, they were 50 cents. Then they were “free with purchase.”
And we still had some left when we closed our warehouse years later.
Why post this grievous error? Two reasons: To let you know that even though magazine editors act like a bunch of know-it-alls, we can get whacked by the idiot stick at times. Also, as a way of making amends, to offer you your money back (50 cents) to anyone who acquired one of these rules and wants to be done with it. Drop me a line if you have one of these in your drawer.
– Christopher Schwarz
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