Introduction: Ruler - Measuring Lengths

The following information is a single lesson in a larger Tinkercad project. Check out this and more projects on Tinkercad.

Project Overview:

A machine shop, where any idea can become a reality, can cost millions and million of dollars. Still, the most important tool in the shop is the humble caliper...which costs as little as three bucks.

Moving ideas between computers and the real world (and back and forth) takes understanding the relationships between physical objects...measurements! Design and measurements go hand and hand.

So let's make the tools to help us make more tools!

Step 1: Introduction

Welcome to the Measurements project! This is a project building tools to measure the world! It stands to reason, then, that we'd start with the world's most recognized measuring tool, the ruler.

A ruler is an instrument used to measure distances or to rule (draw) straight lines. The ruler has a straight edge, which contains calibrated lines, corresponding to a standard unit of measure such as inches or centimeters.

The ruler we will be making is 10cm long with demarcations for every millimeter and centimeter measure.

Let's begin!


  1. Continue to the next step.

Step 2: Create the Basic Shapes

This step will create the basic box for the primary shape of the ruler.


  1. Drag a box to the Workplane.
  2. Resize it to 100mm along the X axis, 20mm along the Y axis, and 5mm along the Z axis
  3. Continue to the next step.

Step 3: Create the Rounded Edges

Now let's create the rounded edge for the ruler by adding a cylinder on a side of the rectangle.

To assist in positioning this cylinder, we'll need to change the distance of the Snap grid. We'll use .5 mm instead of 1 mm.


  1. Change the snap grid to 0.5mm.
  2. Drag out a cylinder to the Workplane and resize it so that it is 5mm in diameter and 100mm along the Z axis.
  3. Rotate the cylinder 90° about the Y axis and then push "D" to drop it to the Workplane.
  4. Align the cylinder to the box so that these objects share the lowest limits on all axes.
  5. Deselect the box so you can nudge the cylinder -1.5mm along the Y axis. It should protrude 1.5mm out of the box.
  6. Select all of the objects and group them.
  7. Continue to the next step.

Step 4: Create the Marks for the Ruler

This step will create the small tick marks, or demarcations, for measuring millimeters and centimeters.


  1. Drag a green roof to the Workplane and rotate it 90° about the X axis so that the point is facing towards you.
  2. Resize the shape so that it is 5mm along the Y axis, 1mm along the X axis, and 2.5mm along the Z axis.
  3. Duplicate the shape and use the arrow keys to nudge the shape to the right 1mm.
  4. Duplicate the shape 10 times so that there are 11 total.
  5. Change the size of the 1st and 11th mark to be 7mm along the Y axis (to create the demarcation for the centimeter intervals).
  6. Use the inspector to turn the tick marks into holes and group them.
  7. Continue to the next step.

Step 5: Move the Marks to the Ruler

This step will move the marks to the top of the ruler.


  1. Align the demarcations to the ruler such that the ruler and demarcations share the same lower X and Y limits, and the upper Z limits.
  2. Nudge the demarcations -0.5mm along the X axis (so that the first tick is halfway off of the ruler).
  3. Duplicate the demarcations and position them in 10mm increments along the edge of the ruler. If you nudge while holding Shift, the duplicates will hop 5mm.
  4. Group all the shapes.
  5. Continue to the next step.

Step 6: Create the Numbers

This step will create the measurement numbers on the ruler.


  1. Drag the numbers one through nine to the Workplane and turn them in to holes.
  2. Center all the number to each other along the Y axis and then proportionally scale the numbers until they are 5mm along the Y axis.
  3. Resize the numbers to 2mm tall along the Z axis and then center them along the ruler's Y axis and align them to its upper Z limit.
  4. Deselect the ruler, leaving the numbers selected.
  5. Nudge the numbers 1mm along the Z axis (Shift-Up-arrow)
  6. Nudge the numbers along the X axis to their corresponding centimeter tick mark. Remember, holding down Shift speeds things up.
  7. Group everything.
  8. Continue to the next step.

Step 7: Printing Your Ruler

Congratulations! You've made a usable tool! The first of this project.

Because we are printing a measuring tool with a 3D printer, we might discover that this ruler is not completely accurate. For example, the ruler I made was 99.99mm long!

It is necessary to always be aware of tolerances* when making physical objects and there is no better way to explore this than making, and then measuring, a ruler.

Personally, I think 99.99mm is within tolerances for every-day use, don't you?


  1. From the Design menu, click "Download for 3D Printing."
  2. Click the button labeled "STL."
  3. When your browser has completed downloading, load the file into your 3D printer software.
  4. This object doesn't require any special settings.
  5. Print!
  6. Stuck?

*Tolerance: the variation or deviation from a standard, especially the maximum permitted variation in an engineering measurement.

In the next lesson you will learn to make a cup!

Next Lesson:Measuring Cup - Measuring Volumes