Alvin Architect’s Scale


Three-sided ruler

Most of my analog design tools now sit longingly in a cabinet, but one I still use daily is my architect’s scale. Aside from a pencil, my scale is the most versatile tool on my desk.

I use a three-sided Alvin brand imperial unit model with inches and ten different fractional scales. It’s a handy basic ruler and straight edge for drawing or cutting, as well as for measuring and creating scale drawings. The aluminum model also makes a fairly intimidating weapon during heated meetings (the corners do tend to bend if it’s dropped).

Though so much of my process is digital now, I still use this tool for drafting and measuring drawings almost daily. It’s far quicker and less cumbersome to pull out a scale and create an accurate drawing on the back of a document right in a meeting than going back to a workstation and building a digital model. Sometimes I’ll need to explain why something will or will not work because of scale without breaking the flow of a conversation.

Our analog tools were once so precious. Designers built collections over the course of their careers. The most prized ones were cherished and passed down from mentors and older family members in the field. Who cherishes his copy of AutoCAD — much less carries an old floppy disk around in a velvet-lined box?

I still cherish my aluminum Alvin ruler. And it rules.

-- Michael Doyle 06/12/09