Paper World

Aluminum Grip Ruler


No slip-ups while cutting paper

I’m sure everyone has experienced the minor frustration when drawing or cutting a straight line and your ruler shifts.

I’m no physicist, but essentially you’re trying to apply vertical pressure on the ruler with your fingertips while simultaneously applying lateral pressure to the ruler edge with your pen or knife. If the friction between the paper and ruler is low, or your fingers fatigue, the ruler slips. Cork-backed rulers can help, but they leave a minuscule gap above the paper that can still ruin intricate work if you’re tracing the ruler edge with a fine marker or hobby knife.

I found this aluminum grip ruler ($6) at my local Staples about 2 years ago and it has transformed my workstation. (The Westcott version is here, but currently out of stock at Staples.) The raised central spine allows me to grasp the ruler with a pincer grip, so the vertical pressure is being applied by my entire hand instead of my poor fingertips. This is noticeably less fatiguing for repetitive tracings. For longer tracings, I can span the ruler at the 2” and 10” marks with ease, obviating the need to shift my fingers along my pen or knife. The spine is trapezoidal and ribbed, so it’s impossible to not get a good grip every time. It may seem like a superfluous convenience, but I think drawing or cutting a straight line should be easy and intuitive. I spend less time restarting or retracing, and more time building my actual projects.

If there was one thing I could change, it would be the choice of metal. The ruler is by no means flimsy, but for someone who buys a lot of US and German-made tools, I pine for the solid heft of steel. For $7 Canadian, I’m not complaining though.

For you Americans, I wasn’t able to find this exact Staples-branded ruler at Office Depot or Amazon, but an identical model seems to be this Westcott ($8) (it may even be the same OEM). You also might consider an architect’s (a.k.a. tri-scale) ruler, although the nicer metal ones can be expensive and I personally don’t need that functionality. For sheer utility-per-dollar, this one does the trick!

-- Nabhan Islam 02/3/19