Using the Ruler Tool in Tinkercad

Introduction: Using the Ruler Tool in Tinkercad

For those that may not know Tinkercad is a web based 3D modeling tool. I use Tinkercad almost exclusively for all of my 3D designs that I plan to 3D print. I say almost exclusively because I have uploaded some 2D outlines to extrude.

I have made things such as, cookie cutters, robot platforms, robot wheels, and figurines.

I have been using Tinkercad for almost a year and only just now discovered the full use of the ruler tool. Discovering this has changed the way I design things on Tinkercad forever. I figured I couldn't be the only one who didn't know about these features so I thought I'd compile them all into an Instructable.

What you'll need:

- A computer with access to internet (Tinkercad is web-based)

- A tinkercad or autodesk account (it's free!)

Step 1: Find the Ruler Tool in Tinkercad

The ruler tool is in the helpers section on the right hand side of the Tinkercad window.

Drag an object and a ruler onto the Workplane. I use rectangles, which may or may not be cubes, in this Instructable to demonstrate.

Step 2: Measuring Distances: Negative Distances

The ruler tool is like an axis. If you click on an object near the ruler it will show distances from the ruler in two directions. Like an axis the ruler has a positive and negative side.

As you can see in the image my shape is to the left of the ruler, so it shows a negative horizontal distance.

Also note that the arrow for the distance points across the shape. This means that the width of the object is included in the distance.

Step 3: Measuring Distances: Positive Distances

As you can see in this image, the object is to the right of the ruler so it shows a positive distance.

Since the arrow does not cross the width of the shape, this time the width of the object is not included in the distance. This is a very important factor to remember when using the ruler tool.

Step 4: Typing in Dimensions

Quite possible the best feature of the ruler tool is that once you have a ruler on your Workplane, you can now type in dimensions. Simply click on the dimension you want to change, type in the new dimension, and hit enter.

Gone are the minutes wasted trying to drag your shape to the exact dimensions. This is life-changing if you often create objects that can't use the lock grid tool.

Not only can you type in dimensions, but you can also type in distances, so no need to drag your objects around willy nilly.

Step 5: Using Multiple Objects

The ruler tool can be handy for dimensions when using one object, but how often do you do a 3D design with only one object, probably never. So lets move on to using multiple objects.

Drag another rectangle on to the Workplane.

Step 6: Zoom Into the Shape to See 2D

Something that I only recently discovered was incredibly useful is the fact that you can zoom into an object to see the 2D projection of the object on the Workplane. This come in handy when trying to line up an object exactly with the ruler tool, especially if you aren't using the lock to grid function, which sometimes you cannot use.

Step 7: Line Up the Ruler With the Shape

For the next demonstration one of the objects will need to be lined up with the ruler. Only one side of the ruler should be touching the object. If two sides are touching then the measurement will include the width of the box, which would be okay, but require some math.

Step 8: View Distances

Now if you zoom out and click on the other object you can view the distance between the two objects. Really what you are seeing is the distance of the second object to the ruler, but we aligned the first object with the ruler.

Step 9: Change the Distance Between the Objects

You can also change the distance by typing in a new distance, as you changed dimensions. Remember that whatever shape you are clicked on is the one that will move. That seems simple now, but may not be so when you have a few objects that you are trying to align.

Step 10: Distance Can Include Width of Object

This is an example of if the ruler touches two edges of the first object. Note that the distance now includes the width of the object.

Step 11: Making Holes

The ruler tool can also be handy when making holes in objects. If you line up the tool with two edges of a shape, you can see the distance of the holes from those edges.

Step 12: Vertical Distances

The ruler tool itself can only give measurements in two dimensions. If you need to do something vertical simply rotate everything 90 degrees so it is horizontal and you can use the ruler tool.

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    3 years ago

    Measure vertical distances by changing the workplane.

    Example: Press 'W' to generate workplane and place via mouse and click on a vertical side. Then press 'R' and position the ruler anywhere upon the vertical workplane.


    5 years ago

    Thank you for putting this together. I have only recently started using TinkerCad but by far it is the most approachable for beginners like me. I also tried Fusion360, Blender, Sketchup, etc but found them all a little too advanced. The only thing I was really missing that those other programs seemed to offer was a way to enter dimensions directly instead of fiddling with the mouse so much. This is a lifesaver. Thanks!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    You can also use it to measure distances from center points which is super helpful especially for lining up objects.


    6 years ago

    Thank you very much. I just "discovered" Tinkercad this week and you just helped me out tremendously.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! You have saved me from future frustration ;)


    Reply 6 years ago

    I know... Literally mind blown :-)