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The belt. Many of us wear them every day. I measure things nearly every day. There was a time in my life that I carried a 6'ft. tape measure with me every day, but I found it cumbersome. One day, when playing with a laser cutter it occurred to me that the belt is prefect real estate for a short tape measure.

Similar to my Ruler Comb, this is an item carried every day that has un-utilized potential as a reference.

Step 1: Procure Supplies

You will need a belt.

This is the most important decision. I usually own belts for about 5 years before they become to stretched or ratty for daily use. I found trying to procure a nice leather belt online to be a very frustrating experience.

Etching your the belt you may wear everyday has several advantages- You already like it, and it is already stretched. I found that in the first month or so of wear my belts stretch as much as an eight of an inch (~3mm).

Color is an important consideration, as black etching on a black belt is hard to read.

For this iteration, I went with a Carhartt Brown Journeyman Belt because it seemed like it would be a stiff and sturdy ruler with a nice color for etching. It is not soft, so there is a comfort trade-off. I bought a size about 10" bigger than my waist so I would have a scrap to test on.

Non-leather belts have a high risk of containing PVC or other laser-unfriendly polymers that can damage your brain when etched. If you need to check if your belt has PVC, there is a really neat 'burnination' test done with a blowtorch and a piece of copper, outlined on Vimeo by Zach Hoeken.

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<p>Genius!</p><p>I want to make one when I come tot Pier9 this month!</p>
<p>THANK'S FOR BK COMMENT. READ ABOUT SOME KIND OF STIP THAT CAN BE USED IN LEATHER TO MINIMIZE STREACH. I WILL LOOK IN MY ARCHIVES &amp; REPORT BK IF I CAN FIND IT. [ VLAD ]</p>
<p>HOW MUCH OF A CHANGE IS THERE TO STREACHING. IS THERE A WAY TO RECALIBRATE? THANK'S [ VLAD ]</p>
<p>Mine is 6 months old and has stretched a whole inch over its 34" length.</p><p>Use a plastic belt, or measure things that are short. :-)</p>
Awesome! I would worry about leather stretch though. I know most of my belts are warped from normal wear. Saddleback Leather Co. uses embedded nylon straps in there leather bags to prevent stretching. Might look at some of there videos. This would also be a great Kickstarter campaign; I'd buy one!
<p>One thing I thought of was wearing the belt for a few months prior to etching, as to minimize further stretching. With some of the belts I did I worried about stretching, but the Carhartt is super stiff and somewhat plastic-y in feel. I'd be surprised if it stretched more than a few percent. As far as Kickstarter goes, I put this 'ible in the public domain. Perhaps it will make it to market on its own!</p>
<p>I might take you up on the Kickstarter thing, I think tons of people would love these!</p>
<p>very cool man!</p>
<p>Damn, I don't own a laser, can I send my belt to you?</p>
<p>One more reason why I NEED a laser-cutter :) Great Ible!</p>
Very cool and well done. Btw there are 2.54cm per inch, not 2.45.
<p>Very nice,very cleaver and a great job! Seriously how much for one of the light colored ones? :-} </p>
<p>Yea I would totally buy this. </p>
<p>Very clever. I wouldn't worry to much about belt stretching since it looks like you used a latigo Carhartt. They often use it for belt leather because it's not prone to stretching as much as, say, veg tan. Great work.</p>
<p>Thanks! I didn't know there was such thing as belt leather, but I noticed the Carhartt wasn't soft enough to stretch when I bought it.</p>
<p>This is super awesome!</p>
<p>I'm guessing that your belt is pure leather so the inner-side is probably rough. Did you consider getting one with both sides smooth? This is generally accomplished by adhering a smooth sheet of leather to the rough side. Just thinking that two smooth sides doubles the amount of engrave-able area. Nice 'ible :)</p>
<p>Both sides were smooth. I think it is a bonded leather belt.</p><p>I did another one in black out of full-grain leather, and I used the rough side. It doesn't photograph well, as it is black-on-black, but it measures fine!</p>
<p>Perfect survival item... awesome work!</p>
<p>I love this idea!! How neat</p>
Beautiful artistry. So simple yet super professional/ store quality.
Might be frustrating if you were to gain weight ;-)
<p>I love this! :D</p>
<p>Great idea! </p>
<p>I would totally use this belt.</p>
<p>Awesome, novel idea Robb. This project really got my wheels turning. Thanks for sharing.</p>
<p>Brilliant, you could sell this </p>

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Bio: Robb is an Artist-in-Residence st Autodesk's Pier 9. He went to Carnegie Mellon to study Art. He mostly does tangible artifacts that are often ... More »
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