Measure Twice

I’m currently working on a large project that involves a lot of paper cutting. The finished piece will be made up of one hundred and forty 10.5 cm (4.125 in.) squares. Some have just pattern, some also have letters. Although there are repeating elements, no two squares are alike.

I am using rulers a lot for this project, so here are some of my assortment.

This is an architect’s (or engineer’s or designer’s) scaling ruler. Since I do the majority of my design work digitally these days, I no longer use it, but I still have a sentimental attachment.

Here are my steel rulers.

The bottom one is a ‘hook rule’ used almost exclusively for setting the bar on my board shear for cutting narrow strips.

And here are my Alumicutter rulers… 12 inch, 18 inch, 30 inch, and 48 inch. They have a steel insert on one edge, and a groove to position your thumb and finger safely when cutting. The 18 inch steel ruler and the 18 inch Alumicutter are the ones I use the most.

The second image shows our cat Poly (short for Polydactyly: she has six toes on each front foot) helping me set up the shot.

Using rulers so much has reminded me of some measuring/marking/cutting tips. When making a long cut, hold the ruler perpendicular to the edge of the table. This does mean that you are making the cut towards yourself which is not without hazards (I hate learning experiences, especially those involving blood), but it is easier to keep your cutting blade vertical and firmly against the ruler this way than if you try to cut from side to side. It is also easier to hold the ruler in position as you don’t have to shift your ruler hand along as you cut.

Never use a wood or plastic or aluminium ruler as a cutting guide as your blade can easily nick or gouge those materials.

I passed on this measuring tip in the valentine post, but here it is again:

When dividing a piece of paper into columns or rows of equal width, angle your ruler across the paper so that the upper number on the ruler is divisible by the number of rows/columns desired. Make at least two sets of marks like this to create guides for your divisions.

If you are right-handed, try drawing lines that you are marking from right to left. This permits you to see both the start and end of the line more easily. (If you are left-handed, draw left to right.)

When cutting heavier materials, several light cuts will do the job more easily and accurately than trying to cut through in one pass.

And, of course, measure twice and cut once.

Here follows an unsolicited endorsement:

I love my Alumicutter rulers, but they developed a technical problem. The store where I bought them no longer exists, so I looked up the company on the Internet and sent them an email. Since it was between Christmas and New Year’s I expected to wait until at least the first week in January for a response. To my surprise I got a response within hours, offering a perfect solution to my problem. Alumicolor not only has a great product, it has exceptional customer service!




About Byopia Press

I have been working in the book arts field for more than twenty years, and operating Byopia Press with my husband David since the late 1990s. I began producing artist's books and altered books in 2004. I also create prints and drawings that are frequently text-inspired or text-based.
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2 Responses to Measure Twice

  1. Nice selection of rulers!
    You wrote: “f you are right-handed, try drawing lines that you are marking from right to left. This permits you to see both the start and end of the line more easily.” Mhm, usually I see both start and end easily, while marking from left to right with my right hand, and marking from right to left would make me cover previous marks with my hand… But I’ll give it a try, who knows, maybe it will come as the big revelation.
    The hint with the slanted ruler is really useful. I made use of this before, but completely forgot about it. – Already enjoyed it while trying out your Valentine.


    • Byopia Press says:

      Ah, perhaps a bit unclear! I work from left to right across the page, but draw the individual lines from right to left. Seeing the start and end of the line depends a lot on your working position, so this may not be necessary for you. ; ]


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