For most crafts, accuracy is vital. No matter what type of materials you’re working with, at some point, you’ll need to consider measurements, whether to draw an angle, cut a piece of fabric, or saw off a block of wood.
Metal rulers are some of the best additions to any craft station since they’re more resilient and versatile than their plastic and wooden counterparts. Sure, these may be cheaper, but once you have a metal ruler, it will stand the test of time, granted you maintain it properly.
While you can use a standard straight-edge metal ruler for various creative hobbies, some models suit specific projects and mediums more than others. Below we’ve rounded up our top picks for the best metal rulers to meet your crafty needs!
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What to look for in a metal ruler
A ruler is a ruler, right? In part, yes. On the other hand, a metal ruler will feel different than a plastic or wooden alternative.
They’re manufactured in various designs, weights, and lengths; some work like a charm across multiple surfaces, while others are a little more specialized and curated for specific purposes.
The most important thing to know is what you need to get the job done, depending on your craft, skill level, and budget.
And although you can make things work with a standard ruler at first, it won’t be long before you begin looking for a metal ruler to craft with greater accuracy and flow. If you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about.
That said, here are a few thoughts to consider when looking for the best metal ruler for you:
- Stainless steel metal rulers are more durable than plastic or wooden models. Plus, no splinters! On the other hand, they will require some level of maintenance to enhance longevity.
- Metal rulers are less likely to warp, bend, or chip with use.
- Good quality metal rulers will have etched vs. printed markings. This ensures they won’t fade over time.
- Be sure to purchase a metal ruler that you feel safe using. Some have rounded edges, while others can get pretty sharp. Keep this in mind before buying a metal ruler for young children and teens.
- Stainless steel is an eco-friendly material and can be recycled again and again. Metal rulers are a great option to keep crafting sustainable!
- Rigidity and sturdiness may vary: select a metal ruler that matches your prime materials, whether paper, fabric, wood, or others.
- Heavy-duty metal rulers are also helpful for cutting materials and laying out lines on surfaces as guides for your project.
- Prices will vary depending on your metal ruler’s size, weight, and quality: there’s no need to purchase a heavy-duty metal ruler if you’re a papercrafter, for example. Try to stick to an option that will suit a specific need instead.
- Understand graduation ranges (markings that indicate a particular space/distance). A straight-edge metal ruler will display linear graduation in imperial and/or metric increments.
Best metal rulers
Buying a metal ruler is a no-brainer if you’re an avid hobbyist. But which style or size is the right fit for your pastime or profession?
Here are our top picks for woodworkers, illustrators, leather workers, and more — diamond painters included!
Best for woodworking: Mayes 36 Inch Straight Edge Aluminum Ruler
If there’s a craft that requires accurate measurements, it’s woodworking. The age-old motto of measure twice, cut once still holds true today! Even if you’re working with lighter types of wood or plywood, having a sturdy, heavy-duty metal ruler will be worth the buy.
This straight-edge, sturdy aluminum ruler by Mayes measures 36 inches in length and is 2 inches wide. Besides being particularly large and rigid, it’s also thicker than standard craft rulers: 0.125 inches. This makes it the perfect match for large-scale projects and a great supplement to marking gauges and other marking tools.
Read also: 12 essential woodworking tools for beginners
For example, besides wood, you can use this metal ruler to cut through coarse textiles like leather with a rotary cutter or electric scissors. The ruler’s thickness/height will allow you to craft safely without the concern of having your sharp cutter sway or “jump over” to the other side.
It also features thermal-bonded embossed graduations in 1/8 and 1/16 inches. This means markings are not only very accurate but easy to see — being embossed makes them resistant to fading over time. Considering the durability, versatility, safety, and size of this tool, it’s pretty inexpensive, costing ~$26 on Amazon.
Plus, if you have a crammed work desk or are limited to a corner of your home to craft, the ruler’s hang hole will allow you to save up on storage space; hang it on the wall, garage door, or wherever you see fit! All in all, what I really like about this metal ruler is that it’s accessible, high in quality, and suitable for both skilled and newbie hobbyists.
Best for sewing: KEARING Vary Form Curve Ruler
There are lots of rulers you can use for garment making. However, having a metal sewing ruler is, once again, a step up from cheap plastic alternatives and will provide greater precision when measuring and cutting.
And although you can use a regular ruler for certain stages of your sewing ventures, once you get into more angled, elaborate work like pattern drafting and fitting adjustments, you’ll require something a little more specific. That’s when a curved sewing ruler comes into the picture!
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You can find lots of plastic curved rulers, but a curved metal sewing ruler or armhole curve ruler will be more resistant and long-lasting. This model’s measuring scope is 1-12 inches and has printed marks on both sides.
Also, it’s very cheap at only $12 on Amazon — you won’t need anything more expensive if you’re just starting out. This metal sewing ruler will help you tackle necklines, sleeve holes, and pocket contours much more efficiently than a standard ruler and is suitable for seasoned tailors and hobbyists alike.
Kearing is a great place to source sewing, fashion design, and needlecraft tools and materials, no matter your skill set. For example, if you prefer to get started with a standard, straight edge 6-inch metal ruler, the brand sells one curated for sewing here.
Best for paper crafting: Westcott 10415 Metal Ruler with Non-Slip Cork Base
One of the most sought-after models on our guide is this metal cork-backed ruler by Westcott. It’s popular across crafters of all ages and versatile enough to accommodate a wide variety of lightweight projects.
Measuring 24 inches long (1/16 inches graduation), this Westcott ruler is made of durable, resistant metal while providing lots of flexibility to work on curved surfaces. Its cork backing allows it to lay steady on paper surfaces without little to no budging as you cut, trace, or draw lines.
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This model also features a hang hole to store your tool without taking up more space in your craft desk. Note that this ruler isn’t magnetic, so it won’t stick to a magnetic tool wall. However, I really want to point out just how cheap this metal ruler is on Amazon, currently at a little over $1 (originally ~$5)!
That said, whether or not this turns out to be the ruler for you, considering its uber-low price and quality, it’s definitely worth finding out! The Westcott ruler is also suitable for children and teens since the edges are rounded vs. pointy and sharp (this is one of the common disadvantages of many craft metal rulers!).
Remember that this isn’t a suitable option for heavy-duty crafting or materials but rather for papercrafting and stationery-related creative hobbies, from journaling, bookbinding, and card making to collage art and more.
Best for leather crafting: Esamero Leather Tools Punching and Positioning Ruler
Leatherworking is one of the oldest art forms, and while still viewed as a somewhat niche creative hobby, it has resurfaced in recent years thanks to the offer of accessible leather crafting kits and toolsets.
If you’ve been experimenting with this medium or want to update your toolbox, check out this heavy-duty metal ruler by Esamero. It’s a great pick, especially if you’re putting together your first set of leather crafting tools. Trust us; skip plastic rulers if accuracy and sturdiness are what you’re after.
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The Esamero ruler is a versatile, all-in-one tool that accommodates different functionalities. Its unique pyramid-like design allows you to work with various scales (six in total!), with clear engraved markings and five different hole punch scales — it’s more than just a ruler with this one.
Like an architect or engineer scale, this tool features a vertical “fin-like” side that you can grasp to hold your tool down securely as you use Xacto knives and rotary cutters to slice pieces of thick leather. And, of course, this is a great way to protect your fingers and avoid having your hand block your view as you work.
Mind you, there is only one ruler included in this order, plus a transparent plastic slip/case. Because this is a more professional-grade tool with somewhat sharp, pointy edges, we don’t advise it for young crafters or teens. Also, be aware of the ruler’s corners when crafting to avoid piercing your leather.
Best for drawing: Breman Precision Metal Ruler
One of the most popular needs and demands for a high-quality ruler is for drawing. Whether you’re an illustrator, architect, urban sketcher, or designer, having a straight edge cork-backed metal ruler will be necessary at some point.
There are several variations of this Breman tool. However, I recommend the 12-inch metal ruler: it’s a standard size to accommodate most drawing projects and costs under $9. Its simple design features easy-to-read laser-etched markings and is made from flexible stainless steel.
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This means you’ll be able to work on curved surfaces while also benefitting from a sturdy straight edge ruler when needed. Note that although durable, this tool will require some TLC and maintenance if you want to preserve it over time.
In addition, this ruler is nonslip and designed with rounded edges: a kid-friendly option! Due to its smooth backing, you won’t have to worry about tearing paper or damaging surfaces. This metal ruler also features imperial and metric measurements to make crafting intuitive and uncomplicated.
A hang hole is also integrated into the ruler’s design for extra convenience and easy storage. Besides individual purchases, these rulers are available in packs, too, coming in different graduations and sizes; perfect if you’re sourcing materials for the office or classroom!
Best for jewelry making: Juland Retro Vernier Caliper
The last options in this guide are more specialized metal measuring alternatives designed for specific tasks and crafts. First up is the perfect measuring tool for anyone taking jewelry classes or well-versed in jewelry making: a metal caliper.
While not your traditional metal ruler, this solid brass, non-magnetic caliper is an excellent tool to integrate into your jewelry-making ventures and is scaled in millimeters and inches.
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You can use a mini metal ruler for this pastime when measuring wire, string, or macrame cord, for example. However, a caliper will allow you to get down to the nitty-gritty and register dimensions and different angles for tiny objects like beads, crystals, gemstones, etc.
The tool’s sliding brass gauge measures up to 3.15 inches (80mm) with a graduation of 1/16 inch (1mm). While there are electric, plastic calipers available, this retro, metal model is best if you prefer more artisan hand-crafting techniques vs. modern shortcuts. Don’t get me wrong, these can be very handy too!
Remember that you’ll need to care for this item since the coating will eventually oxidize — but relax, this will take years. Its pocket size is also convenient if you tend to craft in different spaces, whether on a daily basis or enjoy crafting during your getaways.
Best for diamond painting: WILLBOND Diamond Painting Ruler
Last up is one of the most innovative takes on metal rulers, this time for diamond painting! Again, this is not your traditional ruler with numbered markings, but instead, a specifically designed stainless steel ruler for 5D art.
This tool features a stainless steel grid that aids in speeding up the diamond placing process while ensuring more accuracy. Your set will include three different styles: 599 blank grids, 520 blank grids, and 699 blank grids to accommodate square and round drills.
Read also: Best diamond painting kits
If you’re looking for super neat layouts, no matter if for larger or smaller canvases, this tool will give you a hand — you won’t need to constantly adjust and tweak your drills after placing them on your surface. This also means you’ll be working more efficiently and in less time.
These are extra lightweight items but don’t be fooled: they’re super durable and flexible, allowing you to craft freely without the thought of potentially snapping them in half! If taken care of properly, these diamond painting rulers will take a long time before they rust.
One of the most significant advantages of this tool is that it won’t stick to your canvas. For ~$16 on Amazon, these simple but very useful metal rulers make the perfect addition to your diamond painting supplies as well as a thoughtful, affordable gift for anyone delving into this popular creative hobby!
More metal rulers for crafts
Want more options?
Below I’ve listed a few more metal rulers worth considering, all of which are affordable, durable, and easy to purchase online. Remember, opt for a product that will match your project needs and medium!
- Blick Aluminum Rulers (Blick)
- Officemate Classic Stainless Steel Metal Ruler (Amazon)
- LeatherCraft Scale Ruler by KemovanCraft (Etsy)
- 6-inch Marking Rule Set by INCRA (Amazon)
- Square Leathercraft Metal Ruler by Things and Joys (Etsy)
- Fairgate Aluminum Straightedge (Blick)
- Helix Flexible Stainless Steel Non-Skid Ruler (Amazon)
- Alumicolor Drafting Fan (Blick)
That’s it for this guide to the best metal rulers for crafts! If you have any other questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below, and we’ll address them as soon as possible.