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Greg Flanagan, director of operations at The Mill makerspace in Minneapolis, got this precisely scaled inch/centimeter ruler tattooed on his arm. As a bonus, it’s exactly 8″ from the tip of his pinky to the start of the ruler.

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


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Comments

  1. I sure hope he’s a fully grown adult. I’d hate for the scale to change.

    I don’t need a tattoo to measure things with my arm. I just measure everything in cubits.

  2. dr.ivan says:

    I believe he is way over-thINKing this…. Hehe… ;)

  3. cde says:

    Extreme biomods. Frankly, I just memorized the width of my thumb joints. 1.1″ for first knuckle (nail is half inch), second knuckle is another 1.1″, third is 1.3″. I round it out, 3.5″ from tip to base. My father has done the same with his walking pace. Simpler, but I do like the concept. I wonder how much it will vary between summer heat and winter cold (Skin tends to get looser/tighter/shrink/expand with temperature) or over age.

  4. R Buchman says:

    As someone who also has a tattoo of a ruler, I have some tips for anyone looking to also get one:

    – The skin on your arm moves and twists an amazing amount, far more than you probably realize. Get the tattoo made with your arm held in the position you will use the ruler in. This is the only time it will look actually completely straight.
    – It will look curved/bent to some extent in all other positions.
    – Tattoos bleed eventually (takes a long time, though). Millimeter lines for example aren’t going to last forever even if the artist can actually make them, because they are so close together.
    – The curvature of your arm (e.g. bulge “out” from muscles) will affect the ruler. An “inch” where your arm bulges out (like at the upper part of your arm, under the elbow) will appear shorter than an inch at the other end of your arm. If you are measuring something laying flat against your arm, like a string or paper, it will be accurate. If you are measuring something held above [the slightly curved ruler on] your arm it will under-measure it a wee bit.

    If you are considering a ruler tattoo, some suggestions:

    – Prototype and test the placement by drawing one on your skin with marker or pen. Observe the results (how it looks and what position your arm needs be in to get it “straight”) to decide if you like it there.

    – If you expect you will be using large parts of the ruler (more than just a few inches) at a time, the curvature of your arm will affect the result (it doesn’t matter for one inch on my ruler, at 6 inches it does.) If you want to correct for this, you’ll need to scale the ruler to compensate for your arm shape. But don’t look at me for how to do that, I’ve never done it before.

  5. Pookums says:

    Pretty stoked to use his arm to see how I “measure up”. HO HO HO.

  6. eric anderson says:

    seems like a lot of work for the calibration department.

  7. Zadaz says:

    Most of the real hard-core makers I know can estimate most of those distances with remarkable fidelity. Ask an experienced wood/metal worker to cut a something to 5″ without measuring it and it will likely be within 1/8″. 2″ will be spot-on. Knowledge and experience trump tools.

    But if you must go for a tattoo I’d follow the suggestions of R Buchman above. I’d probably put units under 1/4″ along my thumb with the indicator marks as long as the unit (ie 5mm line is 5mm long) so when they bleed together they wouldn’t be completely useless) and plain inches from wrist to wrist. (Though I know that measurement for me is exactly 60″ or 1.52m fully stretched.)

  8. Colecoman1982 says:

    In addition to the things everyone else here has said, if you get a ruler tattoo in that location never gain/loose a significant amount of weight and never take up weightlifting. Adding/losing a significant amount of fat/muscle will probably expand the spacing between the marks making them inaccurate. As someone who works in a metrology department, I can attest to the fact that eric anderson is right. Calibrating such a rule after the fact would require severe effort.

  9. miroslava von schlochbaum says:

    Just needs a logarithmic rule on the other arm and he’s a human slide-rule.

  10. chuck says:

    I wouldn’t want a ruler for the reasons given, I am planning a tattoo as a cheat sheet with several formulae I use for instrument making. Fret placement and string guage info, finger hole placement for flutes, info for tuned percussion like xylophones and kalimbas, a chart of notes and their frequencies, a scale chart, etc. The other arm will probably get basic electronic formulae and common pin-outs for the stuff I use the most. I’m constantly wasting time looking this stuff up and having it all there at arms length would be awesome.

  11. Goli Mohammadi says:

    That ink looks frrrresh! Like he *just* got it (still raised). Nice!

  12. snowrail says:

    I don’t mean to be NSFW here, but traditionally this is a fisting tattoo… A lot of bears (of the big furry human sort) and the like are going to making assumptions.

    1. Manda says:

      As someone who falls under the queer & kink categories, I’d smack the crap out if any bear that made such an assumption. Any kinkster, queer person, or anyone of any other non-traditional sexual persuasion should know better than to EVER make assumptions like that based on something so widely used and common as a ruler. If you have a rainbow flag or a leather flag or the bear symbol tattooed on you, okay, people have a right to assume. But a ruler, which is used by everyone from four year olds in pre-school leaning to measure pencils to 90 year olds putting up shelves, is not something anyone should make assumptions about.

      1. sergio says:

        bella va !!!! secondo te , è una scusa plausibile ???? di sicuro usa il braccio per misurare gli interni dei suoi amici, e quelli fanno a gara ! ciao sognatrice.

  13. Viadd says:

    I guess that is easier than having your finger bone lengths adjusted. I’ll cancel the surgery. (And I won’t have to remember which hand is imperial and which is metric.)

  14. [...] the article Ruler Tattoo for Handy Measuring, user ColeComan1982 writes: In addition to the things everyone else here has said, if you get a [...]

  15. [...] the article Ruler Tattoo for Handy Measuring, user ColeComan1982 writes: In addition to the things everyone else here has said, if you get a [...]

  16. [...] ¿Tatuarías una regla de 16″ en tu antebrazo? por Porto Diao on sep 25, 2012 • 9:36 am Sin comentarios Un tatuaje que no solo es decorativo, sino práctico. Greg Flanagan tuvo una idea mientras trabajaba en su garaje (es mecánico); acto seguido, fue a tatuarse una regla de exactamente 16″ pulgadas de longitud en su antebrazo izquierdo. El resultado es el tatuaje que ves aquí. Greg lo pensó muy bien, hasta la posición exacta de su tatuaje: no solo ahora puede medir cualquier cosa hasta 16″ de largo, sino que también fue precisamente calibrada para estar a 8″ pulgadas de su dedo meñique. [vía Makezine.] [...]

  17. METRIC SYSTEM says:

    INCHES!?!??! FFS, haven’t we moved beyond imperial units yet?

  18. wallaishi says:

    This is by far the most efficient tatt I’ve ever seen

  19. [...] (10 Marital Harmony Points earned). If I were, though, I would have to get something practical, and my first instinct would be one like this. However, given how often I find myself lost during sports conversations, maybe a tattoo of this [...]

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