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Cheap Ruler Review: You Get What You Pay For

Right between drill presses (#1) and shop-vacs (#3), measuring devices are some of my favorite tools.

A few months ago I was rummaging through the stationary and school supplies section at the 99 Cent store and saw the perfect companion to my office cutting mat: a two-pack of translucent plastic rulers. It’s a real benefit to be able to see the object you’re measuring through the device that you are using to measure it with, and just 99 cents? Sold.

I’ve been using them pretty regularly for various small projects, including last night, as I brought some supplies into my garage to make some revisions and alterations on a build I’m doing. Suddenly, nothing would line up. Double checked, triple checked, determined the straightness of the material, checked that the edges at 90º angles.

It finally dawned on me to check the plastic ruler. Sure enough, it came up short. Checking it against my steel ruler and digital caliper, it turns out that each inch on it actually measures as 0.983″ — over 12″, that’s a 1/5 inch difference.

How many school kids out there have inadvertently struggled on projects due to such a shoddy product?

Also, sorry to anyone who’s gotten something from me 1.7% smaller than requested.

Pros: Dirt cheap. Translucent. Graduated markings appear to be consistently placed. Makes things seem bigger than they really are, if you know what I mean.

Cons: Inches and centimeters? Not even close. Flimsy plastic feels a few grades firmer than a fruit rollup. Exacto blades slice through it like paper.