Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vintage Wood Ruler Charms

I just LOVE vintage wood know the ones I'm talking about ~ those nifty rulers we used to sneak into the garage to play with when Dad or Grandpa wasn't looking...  Well today we're going to repourpose them by creating funky charms from them.

Ruler Charm 002

I am always on the look out for these little devils.  Sometimes you can find them at garage sales, estate sales or flea markets.  Be careful, some people want to charge a premium for them but if they are grungy or broken you can get them for little to nothing.  I normally don't pay more than $1.00 but most of the time get them for $ 0.50.  I lucked out earlier this year...I got a couple of them at an antique tractor swap meet for free!  The guy told me they weren't worth anything and I told him they were perfect to make art so he just gave them to me :)

Below are the broken ends of that very ruler.  I like to make 2 different types of charms ~ first I like to break off the ends with the swivel on them to create one type.  If you can get the two side apart that's super other wise you simply have a double sided charm.  They are a bit more bulky but it all works great.
Ruler Charm 004

Here are two different ways I like to finish the end charms off.  One if your edges are messed up you can simply fold them over into themselves for a tapered "tag" looking top portion.  The one on the right I simply left as it because the edges were still in fine condition.   You will need to drill or punch a hole near the top and you're set to go.

Ruler Charm 005

Here is what they look like before adding anything else...

Ruler Charm 006

Now for the second type of charm I simply use a pair of side cutters and crimp the wood at 1" intervals.  I like to cut on the 1/2" marks so that the numbers are left whole.  It drives me nuts when I see charms that have a number on each end because someone cut them in two.

Ruler Charm 009

Once the wood has been crimped on each side they break apart easily.

Ruler Charm 010

Now you will need to drill holes in each of the individual pieces. 


Last night I was drilling a few more charms I was in a hurry and turned the dremel speed way up....  NOT ADVISEABLE!!!  I ended up going too fast, broke my drill bit, cut my finger in two pieces (with the wood tile), the tile went flying ~ hit my arm (leaving a huge bruise) and went zinging across the room!  NOT something I would recommend!!!

Soooo please take care when drilling the holes.  This is my ds drilling the rest for me :)
Ruler Charm 011

Sand both ends of each tile.  You don't want any splinters left on your charm.

Ruler Charm 012

Now you can embellish them however you like.  I would suggest using Archival Ink if you want to add color to the edges.  Distress Inks are nice but will just rub off the painted rulers so you'll need to use something more permanent.

You could also wrap metal tape around the edges if desired for a totally differnt look.

Another option is to add different little extras either directly on the charms or hanging off the jump ring.

Ruler Charm 014

So there you go...
a fun way to incorporate a bit of the tool shed into your art!


  1. So cool, and here I thought I was weird because I'm such a sucker for these types of rulers and buy them at antique shows all the time.

  2. Roni --these are adorable! when I first saw the ruler I thought "huh?" will she make charms out of that?? are amazing. Love love. Now to find one of those rulers.

  3. Very cute! I think my dad would hurt me if I starting thieving more stuff out of his garage though!

  4. This sounds like something I would do! Get in a hurry and end up getting hurt!! Hope you didn't do any "real" damage to yourself or surrounding area!! These are too cute and would be perfect for a ton of stuff!

  5. Fantastic idea! I see those rulers at the flea market all the time, now I need to buy one!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Oh, fab! I have one of those rulers sitting on my work table!

  7. Super cool charms. I love old working tools. Hope you are healing quickly. Sunshine Summer Smiles to you...

  8. What a great idea- I will have to keep my eyes open for these old rulers! Great charm or embellishment!

  9. these are SOOOOO stinkin' cute!!! Thanks for sharing and sorry you made the injured list in the process = (

  10. Hi Roni -

    I love how these turned out. They are so sweet. Now I have to try and find some of these old ones.

    Elaine Allen

  11. These are fantastic Roni! All the wood rulers I ever find are priced out of this world.

  12. I wasnt sure how you were going to make charms out of the wood ruler, but the ARE so kewl!! Thanks for sharing how to make them. Now I am on the lookout for an old folding ruler!

  13. Love these!!! So glad you linked up to artsee bloggers!

  14. These are just wonderful! Makes me sorry that I tossed out all the old stuff from my Dad's workbench years ago. Who would have thought you could make art with them?

  15. I simply love your charms, sorry to hear of the mis-hap tho! hopefully everything is healing. Please take care.


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!