Throughout the years I've read a lot about the golden ratio from a design perspective. The Greeks noticed there was a common ratio in nature that was pleasing to the eye. This ratio is 1:1.618 (i.e. 1 to 1.618) and is referred to as the golden section. Today, you will find this golden section reflected in design of buildings, logos, products, artwork, etc.

I wanted to create a durable measuring gauge that would allow me to refer to this ratio when designing things that I build with wood, metal, software and other materials. The gauge in this instructable allows you to measure drawings or on screen items and keep the scale and proportion of elements in a design. And, because the golden section is about things that are visually appealing, I wanted the gauge to be visual appealing as well.

The gauge has 3  points, which always retains the ratio of 1 to 1.618, even as you expand and collapse the gauge. In the picture, the distance from the center and right point is always 1.618 times the distance of the left to center points.

WOOD magazine has great video regarding the golden section with examples of the golden section in nature (your body),  greek architecture and an example of how to use it to design furniture.

And you can read about it in Wikipedia as well.

I was able to build this instructable for $1 and your results should be similar. 

SIMPLIFICATION OPTION: If you don't want to hassle with cutting plastic on a bandsaw and torching it to get a nicer edge, there is an alternate approach (that I do not currently explain) that will reduce the effort and tools required for this instructable. I will create a followup instructable showing a simplified approach using wood.

Step 1: Gather materials and tools

Wood would be nice for the material to build this measuring device, but I decide that plastic would be more durable and last longer. I wanted to find plastic that would be the desired thickness (1/8") to provide the right rigidity, but not be too bulky. So I walked around the local Dollar Store and wandered until I found what I thought was the most suitable plastic piece for reuse...a Betty Crocker cutting board. And at $1, the price was right.

I also assumed I would use 1/4" aluminum rivets to hold the pieces together. However, as you will read later in this instructable, I found through experimentation, that rivets did not provide the best mechanical joint and, possibly worse, looked horrible. For this device, that measures what is pleasing to the eye, it is a requirement that the device itself is pleasing to the eye. I decided using machine screws provided the best option to holding the tool together. But I'm getting ahead of myself...let's about the parts and tools you'll need.

- Band saw or some other saw to cut the plastic
- Printed PDF of parts template (http://www.scrollsaws.com/images/Lathe/RicksGuage.pdf)
- Phillips screwdriver
- Propane torch or lighter
- Straight edge
- Tape
- Scissors
- Sharpie marker
- Safety glasses
- Wood or metal file
- Center punch
- Hammer
- Drill
- Drill bits (1/8", 9/64", 1/4" and 7/8")

- Plastic for gauge pieces. I used a Betty Crocker cutting board I bought at the Dollar store for $1. I'd recommend material that is about 1/8" thick, although you could vary depending on the material you choose. For example, some people might use cardboard or wood rather than plastic. Bring your template (see step 2) with you to the Dollar store to find the appropriate dimensional material. The cutting board (without the handle) is about 5.5" x 8" and just barely fits the template pieces.
- 4 6/32 - 1/4" machine screws

Great Instructable. I make my guages out of wood scraps and don't put in the scissor handles (it's easier for a klutz like me) and use rivets to connect the pieces. <br> <br>I get the wood when I rip a larger piece of wood. For example, when you remove the round-over on a piece of lumber, keep the thin section. It's perfect. <br> <br>Great gifts for my math and wood working friends. <br> <br>j
I'm having trouble understanding what kind of screws you used. You said machine screws. You also said they thread directly into the plastic. Machine screws normally thread into a nut.
Charles, I must not have been clear, I will review the instructable and try to clarify. <br><br>I'm suggesting something a bit unconventional. Through my experimentation on this instructable I discovered that machine screws will thread into the right size (unthreaded) plastic hole. If you simply screw the recommended machine screw into the unthreaded 1/8&quot; hole slowly with a screwdriver by hand, it will start threading the plastic as you tighten the screw. The metal screw is able to carve the threads into the hole. Obviously, do not over tighten as you could fairly easily strip these threads that are cut...but you don't want the screw so tight anyway so it allows the pieces to move as the gauge is opened and close.<br><br>If this is confusing or if you have any trouble, you can definitely buy a tap and tap the threads in the plastic, but I found that to be an unnecessary step.
Can't wait to make this. Thanks a bunch
excellent job, greate idea,,,,
Great idea! Automates the design process. Very handy, I could use this for design &quot;on the fly&quot;.
nice 'ible and very helpful tool
Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you find it helpful!

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Bio: I'm a maker and love building things using 3D printer, wood, metal, software, microcontrollers, fabric and other materials. I love to use creativity to ... More »
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