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The Best Ruler

Last updated on October 9, 2023
Best Ruler

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Whether you need it for your work, studies or everyday home use, having a good ruler comes in handy. You’ll most often use your ruler to make sure that you get the right measurements for something you’re making, purchasing or calculating. But at the same time, you can use the ruler’s straight edge to get an even line for cutting materials and even drawing.

When shopping for a ruler, the most common version you’ll find is the plain rectangular ruler that measures 12 inches long. This type is likely the most familiar to you since they’re used in schools and everyday life often. Also known as a desk ruler, this measurement tool will usually have one edge with measurements in inches and the other edge with measurements in centimeters.

You can find desk rulers in various colors, designs and materials. Some will be made of plain brown wood, while others will be made of plastic, sturdy metal or even a flexible material so that you can bend it around objects. Some plastic desk rulers are transparent.

While a standard desk ruler will work for many household purposes, you might need something with more measurement scales if you’re doing home improvement work or planning architectural projects. This especially becomes true when you need very precise measurements or need to make scaled drawings.

For construction and architectural purposes, you can find triangular architect rulers that give you three sides and are 12 inches long. Each side will provide two scales for the most flexibility. You can sometimes also find standard stick rulers that use special scales for the same purpose if you don’t need the wide variety a triangular architect ruler provides.

Our Picks For The Top Rulers

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Product Overview
Our Take
 Best Scale Ruler

Arteza Triangular Architect Scale Ruler, 12-Inch

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Triangular Architect Scale Ruler

Whether you're an architecture student or need multiple scales for construction work, this aluminum ruler has six scales and three sides with plenty of options. The colored grooves make it easy to tell which side you're using.

Overall Take

Upgrade PickDesigned for architecture and engineering uses, this ruler offers good accuracy and great flexibility with many Imperial scales.

 Best Anti-Slip

Officemate Metal Ruler, 15-Inch


Metal Ruler, 15-Inch

One thing that sets this ruler apart from other models on the market is the cork backing. It's soft and not only prevents scratches, but also keeps the ruler firmly in place while you take your measurements. The ruler itself is made out of stainless steel, so you can count on it lasting for many years.

Overall Take

Won't Scratch Your DeskThis ruler measures 15 inches in length and has a width of 1.25 inches.

 We Also Like

Mr. Pen Stainless Steel Student Ruler Set, 4-Pack

Mr. Pen

Stainless Steel Student Ruler Set, 4-Pack

Since this ruler set is made using a durable stainless steel, you can count on it lasting for many years. The set includes four rulers in the following sizes: 6, 8, 12 and 14 inches. One side is etched in centimeters, while the other side features marks in inches.

Overall Take

Heavy-Duty OptionEach of the rulers in this set have a hole at the end for hanging.

Westcott Warp-Free Non-Slip Ruler, 12-Inch


Warp-Free Non-Slip Ruler, 12-Inch

If you're looking for a basic office ruler, this steel option will withstand heavy use. It comes with a cork backing to prevent slips and is flexible enough to curve slightly.

Overall Take

Durable OptionThis 12-inch steel ruler allows for precise measurements and won't bend or warp during use.

What to Look For

  • When buying a desk ruler, opting for a transparent plastic one offers advantages due to the visibility underneath. This is especially helpful for students who need to measure objects from a textbook.
  • If you want the most sturdy type of ruler that will last and not get destroyed easily if you use it with cutting tools, then consider a metal ruler. Although they can take more work to find and tend to cost more than the plastic and wooden alternatives, you’ll likely find it convenient not to have to replace the ruler often even with heavy use.
  • In situations where you need a ruler that can act more like a flexible tape measure, look for one made of flexible plastic since these can twist and withstand being bent around objects. You can pair this with a standard inflexible ruler for general household use.
  • When measuring with your ruler, it helps to mark your measurements with a pencil rather than a marker or pen so that you don’t leave any permanent marks on the ruler.
  • While checking with a ruler can help you determine if you’ve got a straight line, consider using a level as well, especially if you’re installing something permanent in your home.

More to Explore

Check out these interesting facts about rulers and measurements throughout history:

  • Around 5,000 years ago when people didn’t yet have rulers, feet and hands would serve their purpose. In fact, that’s how the unit “foot” came into use since it referenced the body part being used for measurement, even though the measurement varied from now.
  • Ancient rulers have been around since 2650 B.C.E and were made out of materials like ivory and copper.
  • While flexible rulers might sound like a very modern invention, a man named Frank G. Hunt patented one back in the early 1900s. It was unique in that it actually was made of steel and lacked scales, so it served more of a purpose for drawing than measuring.

More to explore