Picture of Lasercut Measuring Tool
I've been working in various shops for years and I often run across unlabeled shelves of material that have different thicknesses. What's a shop rat to do?

This simple measuring tool fits in your pocket or a tool drawer and circumvents using the measuring tape, which is less accurate and more work for quickly determining the depth of a piece of wood in the scrap bin.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Open up Illustrator and make a Rounded Rectangle

Picture of Open up Illustrator and make a Rounded Rectangle
If you have another vector-editing program other than Illustrator, you can replicate these steps in your program of choice.

Use the Rounded Rectangle tool, make a 3" x 2" rectangle. Set the stroke width to .001 for laser-cutting (or whatever your laser-cutter requires for vectors). A 3-inch by 2-inch piece piece of acrylic comfortably fits in your pocket.

Step 2: Create slots for the material

Picture of Create slots for the material
The material I use typically comes in 1/8", 3/6", 1/4", 5/16" and 3/8". You can set up your own sizes — smaller, larger or go metric.

Create rectangles that are 1.25" wide and for the height, the thickness of each sheet that you want to measure.

Step 3: Position slots

Picture of Position slots
Position the slots with an equal amount of space between each one. 1/4" is about right.

Step 4: Pathfinder subtraction

Picture of Pathfinder subtraction
Use the Pathfinder tool to subtract the area of the rectangles from the rounded rect shape.

Step 5: Add fractional numbers

Picture of Add fractional numbers
Add your number values to the left of it's matching slot.

Just in case you're not familiar with laser-cutting, you will have to use Create Outlines to convert text for raster-etching.

Step 6: Laser cut and use

Picture of Laser cut and use
Laser cut this simple shape. I'd recommend using 3/16" acrylic.  It will take only a couple minutes, so be sure to make extras for your friends.

I left the paper on for better text legibility.

I've included the Illustrator file (the text hasn't been converted to outlines just yet).

Jobar0071 year ago

If you don't have a laser cutter, you could always order the part through Ponoko or a similar laser cutting service.

Bill WW1 year ago

What can you tell us about a laser cutter? Don't have one in my shop.


scottkildall (author)  Bill WW1 year ago

I'm not sure how to best set them up, but they do require a venting system. It opens up a lot of possibilities for fabrication — they're pretty amazing.

sweet! I wish I had a laser cutter to make one