Somebody Changed The Rules!
Of the most commonly used tools by a brick mason, which does not get much attention, is a folding ruler. Folding rulers are very old-fashioned tools and have been in use since the late 1800's. In modern times, the use of folding rulers have greatly diminished since the invention of the steel tape measure. In the masonry industry, folding rulers have still kept their presence because masons like to have a straight, stiff measuring instrument, or "story pole" for marking brick courses along vertical or horizontal surfaces.
The folding rulers that brick masons use have special marks on one side which indicate the proper dimension for bricks to be laid when a required height or length is to be met. As everyone knows, brick masonry is a very "tough" trade. Masons are required to work in all types of extreme weather conditions, and the weather takes its toll on their bodies and their tools. The most fragile tool a mason uses is a folding ruler ... they have always been made of wood, with painted-on numbers. When these rulers get wet, (which is usually pretty quick!) they begin to swell and warp and the paint begins to peel off (along with the layout numbers). Also, because they are made out of wood, they are very fragile and can break easily if not treated carefully.
Average price for a wood folding ruler with brick spacing is $17.50. The average life of a wood folding ruler used by a brick mason is 3 to 4 months.
Everyday, thousands of people working in their own trades think of ways to improve the efficiency of their jobs, or the tools they use. David Rael, a brick mason working in Portland, Oregon, decided that he had shelled out his last twenty bucks for a ruler. He began looking into what it would take to make these same rulers out of a better material. He found a few folding rulers on the market that were out of fiberglass or plastic, but none of them had the special brick spacing scales that he needed for his trade. Almost two years later, after countless hours or research and development, and field-testing, he introduced his new heavy-duty, waterproof "Rhino Rulers" at the 2000 Masonry Showcase in Las Vegas. The response by the masons who saw his rulers there was astonishing! People would say things like "well it's about time!" and "why didn't I think of that?"
David showed off his water proof folding rulers again at the 2001 and 2002 Masonry Showcase exhibits and was very happy to see countless happy customers from around the nation telling him that they have a Rhino Ruler in their bag back home and love it!
Average price for a Rhino Ruler is $17.50. The average life for a Rhino Ruler used by a brick mason is 1 year.
David admits that his idea was very simple, and wonders why someone in bigger boots than his didn't start making rulers like this years age. He gets floods of calls from masons all over the nation wanting to know how they can get their hands on a Rhino Ruler. They like his ruler because the numbers don't rub off and they can actually wash off the mud or mortar that gets on them without hurting the ruler.
Like any other successful new and improved tool on the market, David expects to see competition soon by other manufacturers. He has great pride knowing that the first person to make the improvement for masons' folding rulers was someone actually out there in the field using them.
About the Author
Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com.