- Free Plans and Projects
- Furniture Projects
- Jigs And Fixtures Projects
- Shop Projects
- SketchUp Models
- Shop Storage
- Free Woodworking Downloads From Lee Valley
- Premium Streaming Video Site
- Experts Guide to Gluing & Clamping Wood
- Mastering Built-In Furniture
- Simple Live-Edge Slab Table
- CNC – Designed for Woodworkers
- Milling Your Own Lumber
- Advanced Bandsaw Techniques
- I Can Do That! – Simple Woodworking Projects
- Woodwright’s Shop with Roy Underhill
- Tricks of the Trade
My AccountWe independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products-learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
- Popular Woodworking Magazine
- Digital Editions
- Give A Gift
- Woodworking Magazine Reprints
- Premium Streaming Video
Measure Precisely With the Best Folding Rules
When you have a killer idea in mind, or you’ve drawn out blueprints, the next step is transferring it to the workpiece. The right approach when measuring minimizes the chances of errors and makes projects a lot easier and much faster. If you have been using a tape measure, you might already know the hassle of putting it in place for accurate measurements. Here the folding rule (not a ruler) comes into play. Folding rules are a bit stiffer than usual tape measures and can become the handiest tool in your kit for precisely and accurately measuring wooden planks.
Though many woodworkers agree that tape measurers work well for beginners, accuracy is often compromised. So, you will spend a lot of time making corrections to get exact cuts. A nice vintage folding rule is ideal in such a situation because it slips easily into your toolkit or pocket, and you can always rely on it for quick and accurate measurements. We have studied the market and reviewed the leading folding rules in 2023 so you won’t have to worry about ending up with a dud.Show contents
Buyer’s Guide: Finding Your Great Folding Rule
It’s true that you can get a lot of woodwork done with just pencils and tape measures. But to be consistently accurate with markings and cuttings, woodworkers and carpenters need more than just basic tools and accessories. Yes, we are talking about folding rules. You can find a variety of folding rules online and in stores but searching for the right one can be challenging. The greatest folding rules will always give you accurate measurements, but there’s a lot to find high-quality examples. So, we have compiled the necessary information for buying folding rules so that you invest your money in the right product.
Why Are Folding Rules Better Than Tape Measurers?
Most people confuse tape measures with rules, and that’s perfectly normal if you’re new to woodworking. While these tools do perform the same job, the accuracy and convenience vary. And, they are drastically different in terms of structure and design. To clear away any doubts, we’ve compared tape measures and folding rules, helping you better understand which tool is the superior choice depending on your project.
Tape measures are easily folded, flexible, and smaller than the average carpentry rule. They are also easy to use while taking measurements in compact spaces, they aren’t rigid, and you can drop one end while holding the other end while marking. Additionally, tape measures are usually made of plastic, or other similar materials, and are completely resistant to weather changes and humidity. The only drawback is that you need to use the sliding lock to keep most tape measures in place, which can be a bit flimsy.
On the other hand, folding rules are more accurate, sturdy, and ideal for inside measurements. If you regularly work on intricate and difficult projects, the built-in extender comes in handy for quick measurements with the utmost accuracy. All in all, folding rules are a good choice for professionals valuing accuracy over everything, tape measures are a good option for starting your DIY journey.
How To Find High-Quality Folding Rules
Finding the perfect carpentry rules can be confusing with an abundance of models with eerily similar features. However, if you read through these basic pointers, you will quickly discover the ideal choice.
Design is one of the most critical factors to observe when shopping for a folding rule. The design translates into functionality and gives you an idea of whether it will work for your project’s needs. Moreover, the best option is getting a unit in striking color combinations, ensuring it will be easy on the eyes. Make sure the markings on a rule are bold and easy to read, even from a distance.
Also, the folding rule should have strong hinges, joining links together to fold and unfold the rule without any hassle. And, the rule should extend quickly without parting away and wearing off.
The most common complaint most woodworkers have is that folding rules are made of subpar materials and break apart easily. But how can you know if a rule is high-quality or not? You can look at the material the tool is made from as well as scroll through reviews from customers who have already purchased and used the rule, allowing you to know the truth about the manufacturer’s claims.
Also, avoid buying a rule made from only one material because the durability isn’t the highest in those models. A better choice would be to get your hands on a tool that is a combination of wood, steel, and polyamide for excellent sturdiness. And, the inclusion of fiberglass makes a unit waterproof and weather resistant.
You can find folding rules of 2 meters to 8 meters in length or even longer, the ideal length completely depends on the project you’re working on, your workspace, and your individual preferences. So, there’s no point in purchasing a professional-sized unit if you only engage in DIY projects.
In general, the ideal length choice for casual carpenters is 6 feet long. A tool of this length will work well with small to medium workpieces without making a mess. On the other hand, if you are a DIYer, a carpentry rule 2 meters long should suffice.
Compare The Premier Folding Rule of 20231– Best Overall
The first folding rule on our list is this wooden version from Lufkin, a brand synonymous with dependability and quality when it comes to woodworking tools. This folding rule is ideal for both novices and professional woodworkers for getting accurate readings. One of the biggest advantages of this tool is that it’s made of durable wood, so it won’t snap during work or wear out after a few months. And, it folds into a handy rule, fitting nicely in your toolkit and offering great portability.
The measurement system of this rule is metric, you can count on it for industrial or DIY projects since it’s extremely accurate with an error probability of ± 0.5%. And, the snap pivot is dependable, staying secure in both extended and folded positions. This 72-inch long rule has black markings with intervals at sixteenths, marked red, for quicker and better readability2– Runner-Up
The next option on our list is from a renowned brand, Klein tools, offering durable and high-quality woodworking tools. Whether you are a veteran carpenter or painter, preferring traditional folding rules over the contemporary options, or a beginner who just loves the feel of classic tools, this folding rule is an ideal choice. This rule’s minimal wooden design and appealing aesthetics make it a go-to option for industrial woodworkers who want to work in style.
The nylon and fiberglass construction make it ideal for outdoor use since it’s waterproof and capable of withstanding different weather conditions. And, this tool is resistant to chemicals and different abrasions, enhancing its durability. Measurements are engraved on both sides in black, offering better readability even in darker workspaces. Lastly, the stainless steel hinges provide additional strength, ensuring that this tool won’t snap and the locking joints work properly.3– Highest-Quality
The Festool folding rule is simple to use and a convenient choice for novice carpentry enthusiasts. This wooden rule is built with high-quality wood, offering durability lasting for years of service and withstanding routine wear without scraping or denting. The simple design has wooden links joined together with steel spring hinges and unfolds, becoming a long rule. At first, you might think this tool is just like any other model, but the chic black sideways, its white surface with black and red markings, and the company logo give this option a unique and trendy look.
The markings are engraved, not printed, on the white background, offering improved readability and endurance. This rule is 2 meters long and consists of ten links, which fold compactly in a zigzag pattern, providing great portability and storage. And this tool boasts a decent amount of hardness and strength, ideal for a beginner working on smaller to medium-size projects.4– Perfect for Regular Use
If you are looking for a folding rule for regular use, this one from Rhino is a great choice. This strongly-built scale can withstand regular worksite abuse, providing you years of satisfaction. And, the blend of fiberglass and polyamide adds to the tool’s toughness and durability, making it last three times longer than a regular rule.
This option is also waterproof and wear-resistant, meaning it will maintain its structure and shape no matter how roughly you use it. The soft body color and prominent markings enable you to take accurate measurements on the go. The greatest feature of this tool is that it comes in different sizes according to any workspace or project needs. The deeply embossed writings, visible colors, and aesthetics make it a versatile and useful alternative very much worth consideration.5– Great Value
If you are on a budget and looking for a folding rule offering great accuracy without digging a hole in your pocket, you can count on Wiha. This option comes with a more affordable price tag than its competitors and provides accurate measurements with minimal error probability. And, if you’re more into aesthetics, the classic white and black body will attract your attention. You might even flash a knowing smile when seeing the same folding rule in pro carpenter videos.
It folds into a compact rule that fits in any toolbox, or you can slide it into your pocket and carry it around. This tool also has both a metric and inches measuring system, and the markings are embossed, ensuring they won’t fade away over time. Plus, the rugged polyamide blended with fiberglass makes this option scratch and wear-resistant as well as completely waterproof.
People Also AskedQ: How accurate are folding rules?
A: Folding rules are without a doubt one of the most accurate tools when it comes to measuring. And, the name folding rules indicates these tools offer a foldable design, letting you fold these tools into compact sizes. This doesn’t impact their accuracy by any means, though, these rules are as precise and accurate as any other measuring tool.Q: What is the ideal length of a folding rule?
A: You can find these handy tools in different sizes and choose one compatible with your needs. However, the standard size of these units ranges between 6 feet to 8 feet, and when folded, they can be compacted to 6 inches.Q: How can you use a zigzag rule?
A: You use a zigzag rule for measuring short distances and marking workpieces for accurate cutting. This kind of rule has markings in feet or inches, accommodating different users.