Tool: Precision Strait Edge
Price: $36 (24″)
A precision ruler is just one of those tools that every shop should have. Let’s face it; not everything can be done digitally. You may know the iGaging name from their digital devices, but they offer traditional measuring tools as well. These Premium Straight Edges are quite nice for the price.
For most tasks, a tape measure is sufficiently accurate. Sometimes, though, it’s not good enough, such as when you’re making accurate drawings. For one thing, compared to a precision ruler, the lines on most tape measures are thicker, meaning that they’re open to a little interpretation. Also, if you’ve never checked your tape measure against a precision rule, you should. You might be surprised. When I checked mine, I found that it was pretty good; never off by more than a scant 32nd of an inch; no big surprise. What was surprising was the fact that over a three foot span, it went back and forth between measuring either long or short several times!
Premium Straight Edges from iGaging are graduated in 64th’s for their entire length and have a satin finish, which is much easier to read than a polished finish. That said, I wish the ruler markings were black instead of grey. I found they were a little hard to read, particularly with a mark every 64th of an inch.
As the name implies, these aren’t just rulers; they’re straightedges as well. They’re ground and lapped for parallel edges and straightness. The 12″ and 24″ versions are guaranteed straight to within .001″ and the 36″ version is guaranteed within .0015″.
They’re 3/16″ thick, so they’ll stand on edge on a tool’s surface without having to be held. That’s a great feature for machine set-up. Premium Straight Edges are available with either one beveled edge and one rectangular edge (pictured), or both edges rectangular. The beveled version has the graduations on the beveled edge.